Ambient advertising -- ads in unusual places such as manholes, curbs, the sky, and the bottom of golf holes -- calms my conscience. It helps me forget I was once a “culture jammer” who dreamt about graffiti-ing billboards, but now angry moms think I’m brainwashing their kids. I sleep soundly knowing that people still talk about and enjoy advertising thanks to ambient ads.
Some of the best examples take McLuhan’s saying “the medium is the message” to a new level.
Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:
2) Rapp in London
While others make creative, although not entirely relevant, use of existing spaces:
Although I currently enjoy ambient advertising, my culture-jamming self questions when it will become obsolete. To better understand this process, I have created the Campbell Model of Advertising Interest Levels. This is a historically proven model, created by The Almighty Me, that analyzes emotive and action-based responses to advertising.
(Campbell, Erica. 2009. “What I do when I write blogs.” Renegade. Maryland: Intern Sweatshop.)
Currently, ambient advertising is transitioning between the Enjoyment and Ambivalence phases. It has been around for more than 10 years, so it has effectively passed Intrigue. And it's inching toward Ambivalence thanks to the anti-advertising folks who think it “clogs the cultural environment.” Either way, it's far from the Nothingness stage in which ads become more useful as bird cage liners.
M. M. McDermott hypothesized that ambient ads will lose their novelty when really bad ambient ads gain prevalence. The innovation will disappear, leaving light switches with Colonel Sander’s face on them for reasons we won’t understand. But I wonder if ambient ads are immune to a lack of creativity, especially because the only ambient ads I’ve seen are clever and innovative. This may solely be because it’s a relatively new idea in non-traditional media, but part of me hopes you need a great idea to create an ambient ad. For example, replacing a Bic razor with a chicken wing on a strip of mowed grass just wouldn’t have the same impact.
I've searched diligently for bad ambient advertising. The icing on the cake? There isn't any! But that doesn't guarantee ambient ads will stay that way nor will I always find them novel. As my model has proven, I won’t know until I pass from Enjoyment to Ambivalence. The sooner companies start paying for bad ambient ads, the sooner the ads (and I) will reach the Nothingness stage. But this is the most creative advertising I've seen in a while, so until Tammy the hologram is greeting me in the mall offering free samples of freesia lotion, I’ll Enjoy.