How to Advertise to People That Doesn’t Want to Be Advertised To
Creative & Technology-Driven Advertising Amidst an Anti-Advertising Culture
People don’t like advertisers. By inserting consistently appearing advertisements on YouTube or Spotify or margin and popup ads the clutter a website or your inbox, advertising has become a industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the advertisement industry has gained a negative image in the public as sleazy salesmen interrupting your life and exploiting your personal information to gain a buck.
Digital marketing experts estimate that Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements a day. When there are so many ads a customer is exposed to every day, there is a growing sentiment of hatred for the standard advertisement. An anti-advertising culture is growing, and it shows — platforms that offer no advertisements in return for a small fee have gained huge popularity in the culture.
What’s more, standard advertising is a dying industry. Google makes huge amounts of money by plastering ads in search results and in the margins of the browser, but only because people click on those ads. As a generation accustomed to clicking ‘Skip’ as soon as it appears and browsing over [Advertisement] search results in Google takes over the population, traditional advertising will need to be reinvented.
Already, traditional advertising is getting more and more difficult, and the need to be the one among thousands of advertisements the average person sees per day that he/she remembers is becoming more difficult. The fight for attention is mutually exclusive — one customer’s interest in one advertisement means a lack of interest for another.
Advertising to a culture that doesn’t want to be advertised to — and, more importantly, creating effective marketing campaigns — is difficult, but there are two principles we can follow to achieve this dauting task:
- Make a (frankly, rare) strong physical connection with the audience.
- Your audience shouldn’t know, or care, that this is an advertisement.
Standard advertising is despised because it doesn’t make a connection with the audience. Instead, it is a spray-and-pray approach that assumes everyone fits into one box, the ‘average customer’. This is just as absurd to stating that 313,425 people watch the Super Bowl lives every day by taking an average. A connection with reality creates effective and personal advertisements.
Take, for example, this creative subway station advertisement, in which a model’s hair blows as the train passes by. Accomplished with the help of sensors, Apotek’s creative advertisement manages to establish a long-needed sense of connection to the real world.
As a subway rider, your interest is piqued when the model’s hair flutters as the subway rushes by. Everyone — even outside the target demographic — has their attention drawn to this advertisement because of the unique physical connection. Even after they leave the subway, they may continue thinking about it and perhaps tell their family and friend. Every time they enter the subway, there’s a high chance they will think about the ad again. This advertisement does a spectacular job of mixing up the plain subway marketing scene. If you have long hair, the flutter of the wind caused by the train is a familiar feeling. The model’s charismatic smile and nonchalance at her hair, still smooth and silky even after the heavy wind, makes a quiet yet powerful statement about Apotek’s product.
Another creative example of shaking up static advertising — in this case, for a humanitarian cause — is the Anar foundation, which uses a quieter version of the subway advertisement for abused children. From an adult’s height, the child’s face is normal, with the chilling warning “sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it”; while from a child’s height, bruises and blood marks stain the face, with the message “if someone hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you” and the easy-to-remember phone number “116–111”.
In terms of commercial value, this advertisement isn’t particularly outstanding to the average adult, but that’s the point — it may seem like another of many humanitarian-charity advertisements, but speaks volumes to an abused child, who knows now that he/she has a place to go if anyone hurts them. It’s discreet and powerful. It’s also a great example of cleverly targeting separate demographics in one advertisement.
Technology is allowing in-person advertisements to stand out from the sea of static marketing pleas, creating human connections. The Internet, however, is full of creative advertising opportunities. On the Internet, it’s easier to abide by a second principle: the audience shouldn’t know, or at least care, that it’s an advertisement. The stigma around standard advertisements — that it is not useful or personal — means that it warrants a default ‘skip’. Avoiding this stereotype is also the driving reasoning behind the first principle.
Among the newest generation, a particularly popular activity has been the quiz. Feeding into a natural bit of ego and self-obsession, finding out how you would die in the popular show “Game of Thrones” is an advertisement we’re interested in interacting with. Additionally, we love to share these quizzes with our friends so we can find out what their result is, too — note the huge array of sharing methods. BuzzFeed’s immensely popular Quizzes page is full of these sponsored quizzes.
Effective advertising is about getting the audience to want to share and interact with it, not the advertiser. Another example of blatant advertising hidden in a sharable, interactable package is the Lego movie — one hour and forty minutes of funny, witty Lego advertisements. Imagine how many kids will want their parents to buy Legos after seeing all the cool buildings and structures featured in the movie! The last thing you think about when taking a The Office quiz or The Lego Movie is that it is a shameless commercial for a product. Branded movies are not always successful, though; compare The Lego Movie’s 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating with the rating of Battleship, Hasbro’s attempt to create a movie around their board game, at 34%.
Creating advertisements to a culture accustomed to ignoring them is about distancing your marketing campaign from the stereotypical advertisement. A generation familiar with technology from a young age is born to repeal standard mediums of product appeal, so it’s time to get creative.