So it's not too surprising to hear people complaining about loud and unavoidable ads playing at many station pumps these days. The GSTV network gets it from both barrels from the WSJ's Brian Carney, but most of the pump-top networks that I've come across look the same, and I suspect all would catch flak from him. However, I don't think that would be enough to cause him to write and publish an opinion piece on the matter. For that, he needed insult added to his injury, which he got in the form of an ironic ad:
The particular commercial I saw was, sadistically enough, for some
car that supposedly gets such good mileage that gas pumps engage in
various acts of sabotage when these fuel-sippers pull into the station.
"Gas pumps hate us" is the tag line.
"Well, I hate gas pumps," I thought as I filled the capacious tank
of my seven-seat, V-6-sporting, low-mileage minivan. "But I hate
watching TV at the gas station more." Oil companies, take note: If you
are worried about your public image, do not run GSTV ads that are
designed to call attention to how expensive it has become to visit your
place of business.
So yeah, probably not the best choice of ads. What could GSTV and others do at this time of economic uncertainty to endear themselves to viewers instead of alienating them, though? Well, here are some ideas, each with its own logistical and cost issues, of course :)
- Only show ads for sale-priced items at attached convenience stores (emphasizing value)
- Don't use audio on ANY ads
- Devote more time/screen area to news and information - you know, the stuff people might actually be interested in watching
- Make pump-top advertising opt-in, and offer a discount per gallon for each ad watched
It's not an easy problem to solve, to be sure. But as long as people don't start avoiding GSTV-enabled stations en masse, the company will continue trying to grow out their network, as will others. Bottom line: network owners are going to have to start making sure that their medium only adds to the environment before visitors start going elsewhere.