It seems that more and more advertisers are trying silly publicity stunts lately in efforts to stand apart from the pack, grab attention and create buzz. They don’t want just a print ad, or a billboard, or a commercial. But when do advertisers cross the line from grabbing attention and standing out, to just irritating consumers and turning them off to the product?
A few great examples of this can be found in an article I came across this week. Of course there are the funny billboards that seem 3D, building elevators that are done up to give the illusion of some other product or action, or employees giving out samples in the street. But what would you think if you were riding the subway and someone reached overhead in front of you and a commercial for Right Guard started to play on a tiny video screen that was in the armpit of their shirt? I’m pretty sure I would be annoyed by this playing in my face, especially since most people are not always in the best mood when riding a crowded subway car.
This is similar to the advertisements I read about a while back that started talking when a person was walking by. The ads were on a sensor to play when a person came within a certain distance. Some people might think this is a funny and innovative way to get attention, while others might feel violated by an ad speaking directly in their ears and creating noise when they haven’t given permission to do so.
For the most part, these stunts are intended to lift an advertiser’s message beyond the clutter, and as part of the advertising business we are supposed to want to step outside the norm and command attention. When, though, in the never-ending quest for new and inventive advertising and marketing ideas, does an ad just become invasive? The debate goes on.