Is Ambient Marketing Good for Customers?
Posted by Becky Carroll on April 9, 2007
I recently attended a luncheon seminar at the San Diego chapter of the American Marketing Association. The topic was ambient marketing (quick definition: also called guerilla marketing or place-based marketing by some, ambient marketing is marketing or advertising wherever customers happen to be, part of the immediate surroundings). Presented were thought-provoking examples of good, and not so good ambient marketing campaigns. There was also a panel of three smart ladies who discussed their views on the campaigns: Marlee Ehrenfeld, MJE Marketing Services, Michelle Edelman, NYCA, and Maria Kniazeva, University of San Diego. The panelists shared that ambient marketing campaigns should be entertaining, non-intrusive, and meaningful. They also should provoke emotions, and according to Michelle Edelman, should provide an experience for customers. I wanted to share a few photos from campaigns that stood out and share my thoughts as well. Here we go!
This campaign had giant clam shells scattered on the local beach. When you open the shell, you find a piece of paper marketing the restaurant’s seafood festival. The panelists liked this campaign, as it involves the customer in the experience. It is also meaningful and relevant to the restaurant’s seafood festival. Some feedback from this campaign was that it was too intrusive on a beach, almost like litter.
Big Pilot Watch, Berlin, Germany
This campaign is a great experiential campaign, as the customer gets to “see” the watch on their own wrist! The only question here: would someone in the market for this watch (priced around $11,000) ride the bus?
This sewer grate says, “NEED A NEW BARBECUE?” next to it, with a BBQ fork attached to the side. Although it looks clever, the association of a sewer with food may turn stomachs. It may also turn off some customers! Some of the panelists were concerned that someone could even trip on the BBQ fork. This could be considered “urban spam” by some marketers.
My take: As I viewed the presentation and listened to the panelists debate the campaigns, my mind kept coming back to one idea. How would these campaigns sit with existing customers? The blog Shaping Youth had a recent post on how some ambient marketing can have negative repercussions, especially to youth. I believe that certain ambient marketing campaigns can have negative impact on current customers, especially those that are very flashy or don’t seem relevant. Customers may wonder why so much money is being spent on a “spectacle” rather than being spent on an improvement of the product or service experience. Other ambient marketing campaigns can be very entertaining and meaningful, even strengthening the brand experience.
Before you consider ambient marketing, think through the impact it will have on prospects and current customers. Provocative and exciting campaigns, good. Engaging visuals, great. Cool experience? This is in the eye of the beholder.
(Photo credits: binocular photo by andresr; campaign photos courtesy San Diego chapter of the AMA)