February, 2012

Newsletter #5 billboards banners flash mobs ha! yes!

When Is 4 Inches Like 24 Feet?

This has nothing to do with the joke about why there aren’t more woman engineers. But it can be, if you want.
I spent the last month cranking out dozens of Internet banner ads for a client selling a free financial service, with an offer to upgrade. This upgrade is very important, because otherwise they provide a valuable social service but die of malnutrition, a bad business model.

So, some of the ads say “Free!” and some say “Buy!” 20 years ago, it would have been confusing; today it’s gospel.

It struck me that these banner ads are identical to billboards, though sizewise, they’re as different as Goliath’s much-bigger brother, Phil, and David. It’s all about simplicity. Speeding along at no more than 4 miles per hour over the speed limit, because faster than that would be wrong, we don’t have time to read a lot of words on a big board, when we must save that attention for the little screen on our cell phone. So the billboards have fewer words than you have fingers (unless you teach wood shop).

Conversely, we have all kinds of time to read banner ads, but their insignificant size won’t hold much. And the type has to be fairly big or it will turn to mush, so telling somebody all about everything won’t work. But they have the magical word that billboards don’t: “Click.”

I envision a day when highway advertising allows us to reach up through our sun roofs and push click buttons, where we may be regaled with more advertising, which we can watch on our phones, both relieving us of the monotony of watching the road, and enriching our lives with yet more advertising, presumably about mortuaries and hospitals.

Better marketing through being freakishly talented

Here’s how to have a million people eagerly waiting to see your next Grand Self Promotion: be able to sing, dance, compose, and choreograph. Being shamelessly charismatic doesn’t hurt, either. Be sure to call yourself Todrick Hall, which is not the name of a residence in The Wind in the Willows.

I and seven family members were invited to rehearse for and participate in a flash mob last December in a mall in southern California. No, that’s not me in the cadre of attractive professional dancers, or the mob of talented children. I’m in the lurid red shirt, appropriately grouped with a bunch of Bozo dads who can barely keep our simple steps straight, starting at 1:56. Note how I’m still doing the “can opener,” while my brother in law has already moved on to the “sprinkler.”

This was done in cahoots with the mall, so it’s likely Mr. Hall got some recompense for his labors. And now, two months after the video appeared on YouTube, there’s an ad preceding it. But I can’t help but feel that the real value to the creator is the cachet it gives his career, and his enormous “cool” factor, which is taken as legal tender throughout the western world if you’re under 40.

I’ll just stick with writing a newsletter.