Ambient Marketing for Beginners

Ambient marketing is often known as guerilla marketing, and sometimes as place-based marketing. The basic concept behind it is to catch consumers’ attention in ways that it would not normally be caught, improving the retention of the advertising message. Today’s consumers have grown very accustomed to tuning out traditional forms of advertising like newspaper and magazine ads and TV commercials. Ambient marketing could potentially help your business stand out from the crowd.

Image Credit: Salty_Soul on Flickr

A good example of ambient marketing was created for the famous watchmaker IWC by Jung von Matt/Alster. It featured unique hand grips on buses near the airport in Berlin, Germany; the straps in these grips had been modified to look like the Big Pilot’s Watch IWC was featuring. Industry experts differ in their opinions of this campaign’s effectiveness. On the one hand, the campaign ensured that public awareness of the watchmaker and the specific watch increased drastically; due to the captive nature of the audience on a bus and the creative use of interaction, people who might not normally pay attention to a watch ad were made aware of the product and brand. Additionally, due to the fact that the straps give an idea of the way the watch would actually look on the person’s wrist, the campaign was able to begin encouraging imagined ownership. On the other hand, some have suggested that most people riding a bus would not be in the market for a roughly $11,000 watch; however, the positioning of the bus line near a major airport increased the odds of passengers who could afford that type of purchase and were simply riding the bus out of convenience.

The most difficult part of advertising is actually not creating a quality product or designing an effective ad campaign to explain its benefits. No, the most difficult part is simply finding a way to ensure that your ad registers with the people who are exposed to it. Ambient marketing is an extremely broad category that includes many different strategies; the main goal behind them all, however, is to create a unique means of grabbing people’s attention in a way that is surprising and memorable. This increases the odds that the people in question remember who you are — which, in advertising, is half the battle.

However, it can be easy to go overboard in the effort be unique, memorable and eye-catching. For example, a few years ago the Lionsgate film studio launched an ambient marketing campaign to promote their upcoming movie Captivity. This campaign included posting billboards that featured revolting scenes of torture and violence in major cities. While these billboards were certainly both noticeable and memorable, they led to widespread outcry and condemnation of the responsible parties, particularly since the billboards traumatized many of the children who saw them. Stories like this are commonplace; in the pursuit of the next clever and effective ambient marketing campaign, many companies have approved campaigns that led to significant bad PR. By all means, think outside the box when designing an advertising campaign for your company; another generic series of ads might cost you more than it earns. But before you launch a new campaign, take the time to consider all of its potential consequences.

Guest post contributed by Trace Anderson, for Trace is a freelance guerilla marketing expert, who helps businesses and individuals with their marketing. He firmly believes if you implement guerilla marketing techniques, you will definitely see more sales.


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