The BEST advertising idea....EVER!
I’ve got the best advertising idea ever. Really – I do. But before I get to it I have to explain where it came from first. You see, it all started with Facebook.
Now, as we are routinely told, Facebook almost completely rules the world. Don’t think so? Well, talk to advertisers and the so-called experts continuing to send the value of the online company into the stratosphere. No one ever expected something that started life as an online catalog of college-age girls boys could rate would become something that revolutionized modern communication. Everyone is on Facebook and thousands more join every single day. And why not? It’s a fun and easy way to stay in touch with friends in a busy world. Talk about a potential honey-pot for advertisers.
Believe it or not, but last year businesses spent more than $60 billion dollars on TV advertising in the US alone. $60 Billion smackeroos! That’s astonishing – especially when I watch my children display total impatience with TV ads of any kind. They just won’t watch them for even a moment. Having grown up in an era of PVR’s and DVD’s our two year old quite literally cries and throws things if a commercial has the temerity to interrupt his viewing of Max and Ruby. You think TV commercials have a future? No bloody way.
Add to that, when consumers (that’s you and me, bucko) are polled, nearly eighty percent of us maintain that the advertising we trust the most comes from family and friends. Buddy says something is good, so we try it. And this makes perfect sense which is why Mr. Corporate Everything is messing his pants in excitement at the potential Facebook offers. They want in to this super-mega, giant, jumbo petri-dish of personal relationships and recommendations. But they’re missing the point. In fact, they’ve got things wrong. Very wrong.
What tipped me to this is that Volkswagen ran a contest in the Netherlands where they outfitted a couple of their classics – a one-off Beetle and T1 Bus with Facebook branding. Here’s a video of them. They did them up like crazy. The colors were Facebook, the horn was a Poke button, the license plate had a changeable relationship status dial, the dash printed an old-school paper feed showing your last ten Facebook wall posts, it had “privacy settings” (window curtains), an “add friends” capability (logo-ed door handles) and so on. The bus looks great and one lucky fan gets to win it and, presumably, drive it all over the place – becoming one large, super-hip rolling advertisement for both Facebook and Volkswagen. And that’s when it hit me. That’s the big idea. Advertising to the masses means so much more than simply targeting everybody with mass media. Forget the masses. Advertise to ME! Hire me to watch your ads.
Dude driving his new tricked out T1 bus is advertising Facebook and Volkswagen. He’s happy to do this because he was paid to do so by virtue of winning the free van. Good trade I say. So what about me? Why should advertisers continue to pay their ad dollars to TV networks doing little more than force feeding me commercials I always skip over anyway? Screw ‘em and let me wet my beak a little – pay me for consuming your ad! I’ll tell my friends about your deal (if it’s good) but my time and attention is valuable. Here’s where it gets really cool.
Imagine you went into a McDonald’s. Times are tough so you’re watching your pennies a little closer. You look up at the menu board. You feel like a Big Mac meal and its only $6. Great – but right beside that is an identical Big Mac meal but it’s branded by Microsoft and it sells for $5. Say what? That’s right - Microsoft pays for all the wrappers and boxes and promo stuff (basically their sales pitch for whatever it is they want to sell you) and in exchange I get the exact same meal I would have otherwise ordered a solid buck cheaper. I got paid one dollar to consume Microsoft’s advertising. If I don’t want to consume it – I don’t have to, but If I am willing, I get paid. What could be fairer than that?
Take it further. Agree to stencil a gas station logo on your car and in exchange every fill up you make saves you 25 cents a gallon. Why should Chevron advertise in magazines? Pay me – I’ll tell my friends how good your gas is. Why keep paying Tiger Woods to cart a Nike Golf Bag around? I have a golf bag. Pay me - create an ad bag that’s emblazoned with logos and sales pitches about how great it is to use and sell it to me $100 bucks cheaper than a non-promo covered bag. My choice – my decision. No more hatred of advertising. How about those fancy stainless steel Coleman coolers? Get a clean one for $200 bucks or buy one that broadcasts your support of “tar sands exploration” $25 bucks cheaper. If I want to make the deal I scored $25 bucks. That’s a new way to advertise.
I don’t know if Facebook really is the Holy Grail of ad sales or not, but what I do know is that advertising as we know it is never going to be the same. As the world grows it somehow seems to be getting smaller all the time. The personal has become everything and the sooner the big companies and the big ad firms start realizing how important actual individuals truly are – and they start allocating their ad budgets accordingly – the more exciting the world of advertising will become.