MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE; Posters must kick up a stink to help the medium thrive

By CLAIRE BEALE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 August 1996 12:00AM

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 advertising.

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

advertising.



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 campaignlive.co.uk

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