As I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s sometimes hard to convince yourself that
you’re actually doing something that is worthwhile, meaningful and
really matters when you spend most of your waking hours working in
Last week proved to be a bad one for advertising professionals trying to
retain a degree of dignity in public.
First of all there was old Mo Saatchi and his peerage. All rather
serious and important and bestowed a certain respectability on the
profession, don’t you think? Or it might have done if some of the
nationals hadn’t used the honour as a political stick to beat the Tories
with. I mean, the Mirror labelled poor Mo and his fellow peer, Peter
Gummer, ‘Lords of the Lies’. Strange, of course, that M&C Saatchi is
also the Mirror’s agency.
And when the media weren’t ranting about an adman becoming a peer, they
were getting excited about smelly posters.
‘Sky News is on the phone and they want your considered wisdom on a
crucial advertising issue of the day,’ Elly, Campaign’s editorial
assistant, cheerfully informed me.
Forget media fragmentation, the Broadcasting Act, the pressures on
marketing budgets - the advertising issue that got most people turned on
last week was rather more pedestrian, literally.
It turned out that down at Isleworth, the Sky News crew were thrilled by
the news that London’s streets were being permeated by strange smells
emanating from Adshel’s bus shelter posters.
Now media ideas that stink are nothing new, but someone somewhere (Young
and Rubicam, More O’Ferrall?) has taken the idea seriously.
Bus shelters around the capital have been kitted out with a new ad for
Del Monte that squirts a citrus smell at unwitting passers-by. As if
personal odour problems and carbon monoxide weren’t enough for the
olfactory senses of poor public transport passengers.
But I guess the gimmick achieved its aim - to generate a level of
awareness well beyond the size of the campaign. It’s the old trick of
using PR to squeeze the most out of ad budgets and I’m confident that my
appearance on Sky News helped sell a few more cans.
Anyway, the ones who don’t really seem at all clued up about this PR
wheeze are the poster people themselves. I know that this may come as a
surprise to some, but the poster medium really isn’t just about paper
and paste any more.
Posters have become quite rock and roll recently. We’ve had 3-D posters,
we’ve had Wonderbra’s Eva in her undies, we’ve had posters that make
noises. Bus shelters, let me tell you, are quite sexy now.
The Del Monte campaign may be a cute piece of gimmickry, more in line
with PR than advertising, but it’s a further example of the way the
poster medium isn’t being left behind in the gizmo, digital TV era.
This article was first published on Campaign