You New Age DVR-ing people no longer gather round your Admiral console TV to watch Geritol commercials. You just…can’t…wait…’til morning to get your news from a PHYSICAL NEWSPAPER like good anti-communists. And so marketers and their advertising agencies are now forced to force you to look at ads where you’ve never seen them before.
This spread of advertising media placement into every physical location and aspect of your daily life is known as Ad Creep. The phenomenon started in earnest in the early aughts with innovations like advertising on foreheads. This began with small businesses offering money to young people to wear temporary tattoos between their eyes. But big businesses very much liked this idea. One of the first large-scale occurrences of forehead-vertising was in 2004 when an army of 40 people with Toyota Scion logos on their foreheads walked around Times Square to promote the newest model.
Ad Creep has exploded since then. And we are now headed steadily and unchecked toward a Minority Report Ad Creep world. And there is really nowhere to hide.
Red China? I’ve got news for you, Mao, China is Ad Creeping too. Big-time. You cannot get away from advertising that easily.
Go ahead: Buy a deserted island. You’ll be skywritten to.
Here are 10 of the most obtrusive, invasive, and downright creepy examples of Ad Creep from recent years.
1. Japanese Girls’ Thighs
We’re way beyond and below forehead advertising now.
The Japanese PR company Absolute Territory has begun paying young women to wear advertising stickers on their thighs, between the edge of their miniskirts and their high socks. More than 1,500 women — 18 and over only — have applied for the agency’s service, and their number is growing fast.
After choosing a sticker ad, the woman has to wear it for at least eight hours a day, for a set period of time, in order to receive payment. To prove these women are actively going out and promoting their thigh ads, they have to post photos of themselves wearing the stickers on their Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts.
2. Superette Women’s Clothing Boutique
How’s this for invasive? Superette, an Auckland boutique chain, wanted to promote a short shorts sale. According to ad agency DDB Auckland’s press note:
We put indented plates on bus stop, mall, and park benches, so that when people sat down, the message was imprinted on their thighs. This meant that as well as having branded seats, a veritable army of free media was created, with thousands of imprints being created and lasting up to an hour.
However, unlike the Japanese girls, these Kiwi women weren’t paid.
In 2008, Right Guard tested an Ad Creep in the London Underground that involved sewing tiny TVs into the armpits of shirts worn by hired guerrilla marketing actors. A Right Guard commercial actually played continuously on the tiny screen.
4. The Government of Luxembourg
Next: How about the meat aisle at your local supermarket?
The copy reads:
If you pay a prostitute, you’re financing human trading. Every year, 2,450,000 people become victims of human trafficking, of whom 92% end up being used for human sex. 98% of the victims used by the sex industry are women and children!”
A good cause, yes, but this is Grade A creepy.
5. Amnesty International
Let’s stay in the human rights category.
You may have seen ads on airport luggage carousels, but none as creepy as this.
In 2009, Amnesty International crammed a young volunteer into a clear suitcase and plopped her on carousels in several German airports. “Stoppt Menschenhandel” translates to “Stop the Slave Trade.” The organization apparently had airport security permissions to do this guerilla stunt.
6. ADT theft prevention systems
You want invasive?
How about your own apartment?
ADT (via ad agency DDB) invaded apartment buildings all over the Chilean capital, Santiago, and slid these spring-loaded boxes under dwellers’ doors. On the box was the ADT logo and the line: “Breaking into your apartment is easier than you think.”
That would get your attention — and maybe piss you off — wouldn’t it?
7. Papa John’s
Here’s how this campaign — in Peru, not the U.S. — worked: These delivery-boy ads were placed on doors of people who lived in a Papa John’s delivery area. They were placed in the evening, and then the doorbell was rung.
For an ad budget of $200, this campaign (by ad agency Quórum/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Peru) reportedly increased phone calls and sales by 80%.
The intrusive idea was also executed in Germany for a lingerie catalog.
8. German Publishing House Eichborn
Next: fly-powered banner ads.
Back in 2009, Eichborn unleashed 200 “fliegenbanners” on startled conventioneers at the Frankfurt Book Fair, garnering attention in an industry that may be getting a little desperate.
Ad agency Jung von Matt/Nectar says the mini-banners were designed “so that the fly could fly with it, but low and for short distances, constantly landing on visitors.”
This stunt was apparently part of the agency’s rebranding of the publisher as “der verlag mit der fliege” (the publishing house with flies). I don’t understand either, and I’m not a fan.
9. Lactacyd “Intimate Cleansing” Soap
The ad agency Grey in Stockholm polybagged flyers with samples for Lactacyd onto the seats of 10,000 women’s bikes in a few of the country’s major cities.
Seatvertising is a big-money play!
Why not place brochures for the Philip’s ballsack shaver on motorcycle seats? Preparation H ads on park benches? Colonoscopy reminders on subway seats? Beano bottle images on restaurant chairs?
Penetrate those ad messages into every orifice of our lives!
10. Zurich Financial Services
How about fake car-damage stickers?
Zurich, a worldwide insurance conglomerate, thought you wouldn’t mind too awful much if they placed some shattered glass, graffiti, and gouge stickers on your parked car to advertise their HelpPoint auto care service centers. Wait! Don’t key the jerk’s car next to you, it’s just a sticker! After you peel off the sticker, this is what it says (translated) on the back: “For car repairs that are always this simple and fast, contact Zurich HelpPoint.”
These are just a very few examples of the Ad Creep movement. Some other notable recent instances include the following: a nighttime suicide prevention projection on the surface of the Danube River; countryside hay bales; and fake puke stickers on toilet lids in girls’ dormitories (to promote bulimia awareness).
As the revenue from traditional advertising continues to drop, you will continue to see outdoor ads get bigger and bigger, TV and movie product placements get rifer and rifer, and Ad Creep get creepier and creepier.
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