Seven Unusual Places to Put Your Advertising

Look Beyond the Billboard for Disruption that Works

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Advertise here. Getty Images

The terms "traditional" and "non-traditional" media crop up more and more on creative briefs these days. In fact, most clients are moving away from the traditional, knowing that they must capture the imagination of consumers in a new way.

Traditional media is usually comprised of:

Non-traditional media takes advertising to different places, including (but not limited to):

  • Coffee cups
  • Shopping bags
  • Door hangers
  • Event signage
  • Handouts
  • Sponsorships
  • Taxi Cabs
  • Elevators
  • Escalators
  • 3D Billboards or stunts
  • PR stunts

Those are not complete lists, but the big difference between the two is the expected vs. the unexpected. Billboards, TV ads, direct mail, they have all been reserved for advertising messages. And the customer knows that they will look there to get an advertising message; this is why non-traditional media is so strong, because it catches consumers unawares.

However, there are places beyond non-traditional that you should consider, because now those "unexpected" places to advertise are becoming inundated with messages from big brands far and wide.

Think Laterally - Go Beyond Regular "Guerrilla."

It's fine to put a message on a coffee cup or shopping bag, if the context is correct and makes an impact. But to just advertise for the sake of it, you will not get noticed any more than you would in a newspaper or TV ad.

You need to stand out, and make a point in a memorable and creative way. Indeed, it often takes much more creative thinking to execute a campaign that pushes the media boundaries, because you are always taking location/placement into consideration. The creative needs to support it to work.

So here then are 4 places for advertising that you may not have considered.

They will only work for certain types of products or services, but they are more likely to catch the attention of the consumer than the usual methods.

1: Fruit and vegetables in the grocery stores

Almost every piece of fruit and veg you buy comes with a small sticker on it, usually containing a code for the checkout person to key in. But why have just one sticker? Another one, larger and more prominent, could be a great way to advertise your product. How about an ad for certain alcoholic drinks on the side of limes or lemons? Maybe stain remover ads on the beets, or ads for contact lenses on carrots. Be original. People always examine fruits and veg closely, they won't be expecting an ad. And they might just be swayed by your originality.

2: The Bottom of your Shoe

There are a few ways you can pull this off. First, create custom soles for shoes and advertise with the imprints they make. Obviously this needs to be targeted to areas that accommodate footprints, such as places with snow, or wet sand. But if you're going to advertise ski-wear or beach products, hundreds of ads can be placed all around town just by having a few people wearing shoes. Another way to attack this is by placing "sticky" flyers around town.

When people tread on them, the ad gets stuck to their shoe. Why is this good? Think about it this way. What if you were trying to illustrate how easy it was for someone to follow you home, or that in some countries that would have been a land mine? Maybe it's self-promotion - for advertising that really stays with you, call X agency. Think outside of that cumbersome box.

3: Money

It's not handled as much as it used to be, now that we have credit cards, debit cards, Paypal, and even phones that accept transactions, but money still goes through millions of hands every day. And it's a great way to draw attention to your business. From coins to dollar bills, and bigger currency if you really want to make an impact, it's a great way to put an offer directly in someone's hands. On coins, something simple - maybe a message about picking up cheap dates with a dating website.

On paper money, maybe it's turning bills into big savings - take the dollar bill into a local store, they'll give you $5 off something in there. Of course, there are rules about the defacement of money, so read up on them carefully. It's a gray area, and needs to be navigated with care.

4: The Human Body

We're people watchers, but not in a creepy way (at least, most of us aren't creepy). We cannot help but look at other people's faces in crowds, on buses, waiting for trains, at work, in the grocery store, or anywhere else with other consumers. So, why not take advantage of that by using the human body as an advertising medium. There are already ways to facilitate this, with companies like Buy My Face helping broke students rent out their faces for cash. Is there a message you could put on someone's face that would be perfect for your brand? A face cream perhaps? How about other parts of the body? Arms, legs, backs, if they're exposed they are a new way to communicate with potential consumers.

5: Inside Video Games

This is not that same as the pop-up advertising and sponsored messages that appear in the apps you get from the Google Play and the App Store. No, in this instance, the actual landscapes and environments of the games people play (obsessively) every day can be used to grab impressions. Their worlds have become so sophisticated, and in some instances ultra-realistic, that they emulate the same places we work, live, and vacation in. Cities have billboards. Bathroom stalls have ad placements. There are even people reading magazines with ads right on the cover. If you have a product that ties beautifully with a game (for example, auto insurance, and Grand Theft Auto) then you should seriously think about this avenue. It can bring in a whole new audience. 

6: Baggage Claim and Airport Gates

A captive audience is an audience that is much more likely to notice, and interact with, your advertising. People are waiting for long periods of time, sometimes five to six hours, with very little to do. They have their phones, but don't want to eat up the battery life. They have books and magazines. But their eyes are looking for things to entertain them. Step up and do that job. And do it in a way that is memorable and fun. What can you do with a baggage claim carousel? Can you pay to put something on it, that goes around and around for hours? Can you print something on it? At the gate, can you take advantage of floor clings, seat covers, and even trash receptacles? These are all opportunities that can make you stand out from the crowd.  

7: The Homeless

At first glance, that is a mercenary and heartless suggestion. But...take some time to think about it. The homeless are in desperate need of clothing, food, blankets, shoes, socks, water, and many other items. Some rely solely on donations from passers-by. Others go to shelters in times of need. However, if you have a natural tie to any of those necessities, why not do something good with your advertising dollars, and get a little back in return? Provide blankets and pillows that have your branding on them. Give out food packages, and essentials for both the summer and the winter. The recipients will be glad of the assistance, and you will benefit from some positive word of mouth? Sometimes, it's better to do something good with the money rather than blowing it all on a billboard or 30 second TV spot.