Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vegas vs. Philly: when are big ads most effective?

The question of how big a given advertisement should be is a key concern of the out-of-home advertising industry. Two recent stories, one coming out of Las Vegas and the other coming out of Philadelphia, serve as a good basis for judging when big is appropriate and when it isn't.

Media Post recently reported that a giant 32,000 square-foot Jim Beam ad will soon be going up on the side of Rio casino in Las Vegas. According to the article, "the larger-than-life ad features an oversized bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon and reaffirms that Jim Beam has been true to its recipe for more than 200 years with the phrase: "Not available in pomegranate." The ad will remain wrapped around the Rio through November."

This is an example of when big is certainly appropriate, or at least in keeping with the surrounding environment. The only thing that Jim Beam may need to worry about is alienating the health food crowd, but then, they might not be the most likely customer prospects anyway. Las Vegas is not a city of moderation in any way, shape or form and a large ad for whiskey fits right in. Throw in the fact the Rio is the home of the highly publicized World Series of Poker, and they might even get some free publicity from ESPN (in the form of exterior cut-aways of the casino during the networks coverage of the event).

On the other hand, there is the story about The Philadelphia Inquirer and the proposed giant ad for Bee Movie (the Jerry Seinfeld-voiced animated flick from Dreamworks) that they want to drape their building with.

This is a prime example of when big is not good. Aside from the discussion over whether displaying an ad for a kids movie on the side of the Inquirer's building will even reach an appropriate audience, the reputation of the newspaper could suffer as a result of turning the building into a giant ad. It's no secret that newspapers are hurting for money and need to get ad dollars where they can, but their long-term success still hinges on how the City of Brotherly Love views them, and if you believe the above-linked article, a lot of residents are not happy by the proposed ad, or the precedent that it would set.

In Vegas we expect to see giant advertisements plastered all over the place. Everyone knows that casinos want make as much money as humanly possible, so we don't question the placement of such a large ads, or any of the million other money-grubbing things that they do. Newspapers, however, are viewed as a trusted source of honest information, so getting so close (literally) to a huge advertisement is not in keeping with the way the we, their subscriber base, view them.

Placement is one of the most important things to consider in any form of advertising. It's not always that sound of a practice to just cover a large amount of space and hope that the desired audience will notice without any negative repercussions. It's far better to focus specifically on where your target audience can best be reached and concentrate the right message at that location.

Remember, big doesn't automatically equate to successful.

Tags: out-of-home advertising, OOH, outdoor advertising

1 comment:

Bill Gerba said...

While in this case my personal feeling is that the Inquirer shouldn't do this deal (the negative PR and subscriber backlash is shaping up to be pretty ugly), I thought it was worthwhile to point out that Times Square, an area specifically known for its over-the-top outdoor advertisements, is named after a company that was originally headquartered there... the New York Times.

Kind of ironic.