While riding crosstown this morning on 43rd Street, in thick traffic, late for an appointment, I saw three examples of outdoor advertising/marketing worth a quick comment.
1. Between Sixth and Broadway, in the entrance to a parking garage, I spied a phalanx of shiny Vespa motorscooters. I like Vespas. My dad owned one when he was a graduate student in the early 60s, and I am an Italian design snob. There were at least a dozen lined up in a row, parked next to a sign that said something to the effect that the space was free for Vespas courtesy of Vespa USA. Brilliant. Owners get a free service for their loyalty, a service that is not cheap in a big city, nor practical. How does one park a motorscooter in a city? On the street? Chained to a parking meter? In a garage? Vespa gave them shelter this summer, but in a way where the row of Vespas is visible to the world, with a little sign saying, in effect: if you owned a Vespa you too could park here for free. I saw it. I saw a lot of scooters — like a storefront dealership … only better.
- Chinatown — 174 Centre Street, between Hester and Canal Streets
- Midtown — 412-422 W. 33rd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues
- Theater District — 1120 Avenue of the Americas, near 44th Street
- Tribeca — 15-21 Worth Street, between Worth Street and West Broadway
2. On the next corner, on Times Square, the cab was stuck in traffic, and there before me, on the corner of the Reuters Building, was a big Jumbotron sign with a digital Japanese paper doll on it. This was Harajuku — the Japanese fashion movement most identified with Gwen Stefani — who is HP’s latest celebrity (Vera Wang, Jay Z, Mark Cuban, The Chopper Guy) spokesperson for HP printing. There was an 800 number on the jumbotron. I dialed it, and after connecting was told I had 60 seconds to “dress the doll” on the screen. There were numbers next to the 50 foot tall Harajuku doll. On next to the head, the torso, legs, feet, etc. I pressed that number on my phone and the number highlighted on the screen.
I pressed another number. The dress changed. I pressed the number next to the feet and the shoes changed. I looked at the bazillion people on the sidewalks and no one was aware that I was the man behind the curtain …. Freaky. I had total control over the image. Well, not total, but I was messing with it and in control and that was cool ….
Props to Eric Kintz …. great campaign, great stunt.
3. Finally. What is up with ass marketing? I got two major out-of-home ass impressions in the same cab this morning. One from some really bad but new toilet company– which apparently is selling a bidet device that washes your netherlands and makes you feel clean. Clean. Do you hear me? Clean? And which features pictures of six people’s naked rear ends with smiley faces on them. I cannot remember its name. Nor will I try. Please. This is right out of the birth of Public Relations handbook, when the way to sell soap was to convince people they smell so they’ll take more baths.
Then, on the next block, is a delivery truck for Georgi Vodka with a huge picture of another ass. This one with the brand logo across the rear-end bikini. Okay. I looked. I admit it. And while I am at it: what is the deal with words on the derriere of shorts? I delivered my daughter to college last week and while sitting in the car waiting for her to get her ID I saw three women walk by with words on their butts, ranging from the name of the college to “Juicy.”
“Juicy” is not a sentiment I would flash on my withers.