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Buzzing the Traditional Media off through Ambient Advertising

Angela Lucas Snipes Undergraduate Marketing Student Savannah State University Abstract: Ambient advertising is a unique, intimate and non-traditional form of communication between the product and the consumer and uses all physical and environmental elements leading to stronger customer engagement. This innovative form of communication goes straight to the top of the consumers mind and stays there for an extended period of time. The research study explores the innovations in ambient advertising including flash mob dancing, use of structures, posters, props, the backs of bus tickets, supermarket floors, shopping carts, bank receipts, animals, and other strange and unusual venues. The study further examines how ambient advertising can effectively support both traditional and digital media. This unconventional form of advertising makes effective use of surroundings and physical environments to grab attention of the intended audience leading to positive brand and ad attitudes and purchase intentions. This research paper investigates the following questions: What are the social and economic effects on the potential consumer engagement from innovative ambient advertising techniques like flash mob dance and effective utilization of physical spaces for conveying advertising messages? Is ambient advertising the future of advertising? How is digital and traditional advertising benefit from ambient advertising, thereby revolutionizing the advertising industry?

Keywords: Ambient Advertising, Traditional Advertising, Digital Marketing, Flash Mobs, Physical Space Utilization

INTRODUCTION Ambient advertising utilizes the environment and elements of the environment to advertise a message. Generally, ambient advertising utilizes the environment in a more cost-efficient manner than traditional forms of advertising such as television, print and radio. Every year more and more chunks of marketing budgets are used for ambient media in lieu of traditional forms. In recent years with the economic downturn, ambient media has thrived in part because more people commute to work, walk in transit hubs and shopping malls. Megan Hicks writes in the Journal of Media & Cultural Studies about the use of pavement for ambient media: When companies post advertisements for their products in places that are novel, inventive or borderline illegal, they call it guerilla marketing. Urban footpaths have becomes a site for such tactics with advertisers appropriating the means and methods of pavement artists and stencil graffitists to generate brand awareness (2009). Advertising has no limits with ambient guerilla marketing. The world is literally the ambient artists

playground and in an economy like todays, the low cost of creating an effective campaign is enticing to all business owners. Ambient media also delivers what is known as proximity to point of sale advertising. The ambient media is geographically places near the point of sale to make it easy for a consumer to buy the product. In the past decade ambient media has emerged and so advertisements are showing up in the most unusual places. The uniqueness of this new advertising method is what sends the message straight to the mind of the potential consumer and makes it stay there for an extended period of time. The consumer simply cannot get the message out of his mind because of the bizarre nature of how the consumer is exposed to the message. This top of mind awareness is something that marketers all over the world have strived to achieve with print, television, radio and billboard for many years. Ambient advertising catches the consumer by surprise and this is what leaves the lasting impression in their mind. Ambient advertising is originally derived from outdoor advertising (i.e.: billboards) which is the oldest form of advertising. Through ambient advertising marketers are able to use the environment which ends up costing much less than traditional advertising and in addition the consumer is more engaged with the message, One form of ambient advertising is referred to as guerilla advertising. Some techniques of this guerilla advertising are positioning out-of-place artifacts in carefully chosen sites, and promoting products using promoters who behave in out-of-the-ordinary ways. This type of advertising catches the consumer when they are not expecting an advertisement and so it leaves an especially lasting impression in their mind about the product or service. Figure 1 shows an ambient marketing campaign that DDB Worldwide in Hong Kong did for their client McDonalds. DDB was faced with the challenge of combating flat sales and cutting through the chatter of food options to ignite excitement over McDonalds New York style burger. DDB took one of Hong Kongs most famous icons, the Hong Kong Red Taxi, and turned it yellow to imitate the New York style taxi. For two weeks passengers were offered free rides to any McDonalds in these yellow New York style taxis. Passengers could flag the taxi down, go to a taxi stand, or call a reservation line to be picked up. A redemption coupon for McDonalds New York style burger was given out with every cab ride. It was a huge success. Most

McDonalds sold out on the first day of the campaign launch. The cabs were spotted everywhere, including Twitter, Facebook, websites, blogs and even national TV. While thousands of passengers sampled the free New York Style Burger and taxi ride, thousands more talked about it and the New York Style burger became one of the fastest selling new burgers in years for McDonalds.

FIGURE 1: McDonalds Campaign by DDB Worldwide Hong Kong

The McDonalds campaign by DDB Worldwide in Hong Kong creates a buzz because it is out of the ordinary. Ambient advertising can attribute much of its success to the element of surprise that comes with the ad. When

a person reads a newspaper or flips through a magazine they expect to see advertisements and so their brain scans the advertisements in a unique way because the person/receiver expects the ad. The element of surprise is crucial to the success of an ambient advertising. As ambient advertising gets more popular and becomes more frequent, the lasting effects of the surprise element may fade. Figure 2 shows an ambient campaign that JWT in Auckland, New Zealand did for their client Nestle which owns the brand Kit Kat. The creative team at JWT came up with a poster that could be put together by passersby at concert venues and outdoor events. The JWT team embraced the slogan of Kit Kat which is Have a Break by literally giving people a break by giving them a free chair to sit in. JWT

prototyped and tested various designs to create a plywood flat-packed Kit Kat poster that could be made into a sturdy functional chair.

FIGURE 2: Kit Kat Campaign by JWT in Auckland, New Zealand

The poster chairs were placed strategically near outdoor summer concerts for people to take down and enjoy a break during the gig. (JWT.com) Each chair was stamped with the Kit Kat brand logo so that every person that

got one would always be reminded that in order to have a break, you have to have a Kit Kat. This is one extremely creative ambient campaign in which the person not only gets to take part in putting together the chair but they then get to sit in the chair and after that they can keep the chair and take it home to always be reminded of this brand Kit Kat. The once static advertising message has now evolved into a dynamic, interactive and consumer-involving content and because of this consumers are becoming actively engaged in the creation of a brand. This evolution of advertising mediums is taking place right now. From the perspective of the product creator or business owner, this new form of emerging advertising has huge implications that can lead to less money being spent on advertising and more of a profit. The key to ambient advertising is delivering the right message in the right place. This new form of advertising has huge implications in countries like China where the internet is censored. In London, for example the cosmetics company Clinique has persuaded cab drivers to chat with their riders about skin care products. Cliniques strategy is for the cab driver to then drive the passenger straight to the mall where they can purchase some Clinique product. The message and the call to action have to be right on target in order to generate revenue with ambient advertising. Now more than ever, brands are looking to engage their consumers in unique ways that will leave a lasting impression and ambient media has the ability to do just that when done right. LITERATURE REVIEW In Gambettis paper on Engaging Urban Touch Points (2010), she talks about several key factors that drive the rapid expansion of this new form of ambient media and they are as follows: perception among advertisers that these media provide high engagement, targeting options, proximity to point-of-sale, measurable impact and cost effectiveness; exposure to and recall of these media is growing as individuals spend more time commuting to work, walking in urban areas, waiting in transit hubs, and shopping at retail outlets; the vast majority of consumers view alternative out-of-home media as favorable and educational; and new technology enables companies to launch digital advertising platforms that generate higher revenues than the conventional formats they replace

The globalization of the world and the internet makes it possible to market your ambient campaign to the world.

Gambetti also says that Ambient communication is of special interest to marketers who need to make decisions about the most effective communication mixMoreover, outdoor advertising, along with Internet advertising, is the medium that has undergone the most significant changes in recent years. These changes have enhanced ambient medias ability to elicit consumer brand engagement, focusing the attention on engagement as the new effectiveness parameter for innovative brand communication. The ability of ambient advertisements to engage the potential consumer is what leaves an imprint in the consumers mind. The consumer connects this experience and the feelings during the experience with the brand. Gambetti also talks about the benefits of ambient (a.k.a. guerilla marketing): the benefits of guerilla actions are that they reach consumers in places and at times when their advertising consciousness is deactivated. Unlike a TV ad or a billboard or a radio commercial, ambient media catches us by surprise when we least expect to see an ad. For instance the pavement is becoming a popular place to advertise. Hicks talks about this in the Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. She says in recent years corporations have recognized that new technologies and new media expand the opportunities for pavement advertisingIn the near future we are likely to see even more advertisements on the ground, many of them authorized and legal as government departments lease spaces on public streets and motorways as horizontal billboards. Corporations want to advertise for less and create a lasting impression on their brand by using Ambient guerilla marketing. The following (Figure 3) ad was created by Meister Proper of Grey Worldwide in Germany and is a brilliant ambient campaign that utilizes the pavement.

FIGURE 3: Mr. Clean ad done by Proctor & Gamble Co. In The Futurist Magazine, Marvin J. Cetron talks about Advertisings New Frontiers. Ambient media can be anything from the back of a bus ticket to a supermarket floor, to shopping carts or bank receiptsanything is fair game in the world of Ambient guerilla marketing. Consumers have to notice the ads because they are being placed where they cant be avoided Cetron talk about A British company recently installing 150,000 hand dryers in washrooms in pubs, airports, and shopping centers. Each dryer comes with a digital screen showings ads, videos, and animation. That amounts to a captive audience of about 40 million people as they dry their hands. Digital media is just one form of ambient media. Chances are you probably already encounter digital ambient media when you stand at the gas pump. Most gas stations are getting on the bandwagon and have installed or will soon be installing digital platforms at each gas pump so that you can sit there and watch the advertisement as you pump your gas. Certon also talks about another growing ambient trend in dogverts. This is when a company outfits the dog with clothes that have their logos or messages on them and hire people to parade them around the city. According to Certon (2004) Sony Ericsson hired professional dog walkers to parade their canine charges proclaiming their new picture-messaging phones as something to drool about. The surprise element within these ambient marketing campaigns is crucial and some fear that after a while, the impact may wear off. A spokesperson for Henley Centre, a strategic marketing consulting firm said that While companies are trying to get notices and stand out from the crowd, ambient media is actually adding to the advertising clutter, and there

is a danger that consumers will just switch off and ignore company messages. This is one drawback of the very nature of Ambient media. Ambient media is successful now because people do not expect to see it. However as ambient media is used more often, people will begin to anticipate it and avoid it altogether.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK Figure 4 illustrates how to buzz off traditional media through Ambient Advertising using the R.I.P. Model There are three key elements that influence a consumers purchase intentions after experiencing an ambient advertisement. The first key element is the Relationship Strength between the customer and the product. The feelings towards the brand prior to experiencing the ambient ad and the relationship between the consumer and the product both contribute to the opinion of the ambient ad. The second key element that contributes largely to the effectiveness of ambient media is the Inherent Dramatic Surprise / Excitement element. Ambient advertising by nature is unexpected. The element of surprise causes drama and excitement. The third element that contributes to the effectiveness of ambient advertisements is the Prodigious / Exceptional Execution element. Prodigious means extraordinary or marvelous. Ambient media is always prodigious in one way or another whether it is the concept of the ad itself, the magnitude or size of the ad or the impact of the ad on the consumer. This trait of ambient media is crucial to ability to leave a brand at the top of the consumers mind.

FIGURE 4: R.I.P. Conceptual Model for Ambient Advertising

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY A survey based quantitative research was conducted where a sample size of 81 undergraduate students at a Historically Black College University (HBCU) was selected for the purpose of the research study, out of which 52 were women. Table 1 shows the demographic details.

Table 1: Gender, Age and Ethnicity of the Sample

Gender Frequency Valid Male Female Total 29 52 81 Percent 35.8 64.2 100.0 Valid Percent 35.8 64.2 100.0 Cumulative Percent 35.8 100.0

Age: Frequency Valid 21 - 25 26 - 30 31 - 35 36 - 40 46 - 50 56 - 60 61 and above Total 60 13 4 1 1 1 1 81 Percent 74.1 16.0 4.9 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 100.0 Valid Percent 74.1 16.0 4.9 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 100.0 Cumulative Percent 74.1 90.1 95.1 96.3 97.5 98.8 100.0

Ethnicity: Frequency Valid African American White (Caucasian) Asian Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Other Total 64 13 1 2 1 81 Percent 79.0 16.0 1.2 2.5 1.2 100.0 Valid Percent 79.0 16.0 1.2 2.5 1.2 100.0 Cumulative Percent 79.0 95.1 96.3 98.8 100.0

First Qualitative Stage 25 ads / stimuli were presented to a jury of 15 students in order to judge the degree of ambient advertising of each stimulus. The results of this qualitative stage were ordered category ranking of 25 stimuli frequency counts were conducted and finally, 5 stimuli were selected the three factors of the conceptual framework: Relationship Strength, Inherent Dramatic Surprise and Prodigious Exception, were the focus of ordered category ranking. Second Qualitative Stage - These 8 stimuli were then presented to the one focus group of 20 students in random order for each student. Randomization was used to avoid systematic measurement errors as a result of respondent wear-out. Since the population at a HBCU is homogenous with similar socio-demographic characteristics; only gender was included as a classification question. Thereafter, the findings were recorded for these focus groups and generalized for males versus females.

RESEARCH FINDINGS After conducting the research, the results were obtained as shown in Table 2 highlighting correlation analysis.

Table 2: Correlations
AdBelivability AdBelivability Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) Sum of Squares and Crossproducts Covariance N AdIrritation Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) Sum of Squares and Crossproducts Covariance N InherentDrama Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) Sum of Squares and Crossproducts Covariance N ProdigiousExecution Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) Sum of Squares and Crossproducts Covariance N RelationshipStrength Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) Sum of Squares and Crossproducts Covariance N **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). 61223.295 795.108 78 .944

AdIrritation 1 .944

InherentDrama .808

ProdigiousExecu RelationshipStre tion ngth .208 .067 3969.179 51.548 78 .173 .130 2082.538 27.046 78 .306



.000 36584.885 475.128 78 1

.000 18162.000 235.870 78 .770


.000 10379.449 134.798 78 .620


.000 36584.885 475.128 78 .808


.000 24545.654 318.775 78 .770


.000 6176.346 80.212 78 .740


10953.000 142.247 78 1

.000 18162.000 235.870 78 .208 .067 3969.179 51.548 78 .660


.000 10953.000 142.247 78 .173 .130 2082.538 27.046 78 .620


.006 8246.000 107.091 78 .306


.000 4275.000 55.519 78 .480


2141.000 27.805 78 1

.006 2141.000 27.805 78 .740


.000 5920.718 76.892 78 .480


2346.795 30.478 78 1

.000 10379.449 134.798 78

.000 6176.346 80.212 78

.000 4275.000 55.519 78

.000 2346.795 30.478 78 4042.987 52.506 78

Table 3 below illustrates the presence of three factors for measuring ambient advertising. Table 3: Rotated Component Matrix

Inherent Dramatic Surprise / Excitement


Relationship Prodigious / Exceptional Execution


(Between Product and Customer)



I agree with this advertisement.





There is a clear positive message in this advertisement.





Does this ad make you feel good or excited?




.262 .059

The advertisement is dramatic.

AmbientFeeling2 .096


There is a clear exception in this advertisement.

AmbientFeeling6 -.045



Does this ad make you feel bad or overwhelmed?

AmbientFeeling3 .474



I grew up around situations/messages like these.

AmbientFeeling9 .119 .104


Are you encouraged to support this cause or buy product after seeing this ad?
AmbientFeeling8 .168



Does this ad make you feel indifferent to the product?


Would you buy this product after seeing this ad?

Eigen Values % of variance Cronbach alpha Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization. Rotation converged in 5 iterations. KMO and Bartlett's Test Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy. Bartlett's Test of Sphericity Approx. Chi-Square df Sig. .840 582.884 45 .000




4.69 46.87 .806

2.23 22.34 .811

1.15 11.55 .759

Women feel more cheerful then men when ambient ads are conveyed. Men preferred traditional ads over ambient advertising as the elements of surprise, drama and relationships were found less significant for men than women. Brand interest, and positive emotion and impression about the brand and an ad, leads to positive purchase intention. Ambient strategies make ads more interesting and likeable leading to positive intentions to buy, while traditional strategies ignite more likeability but do not strike interest in the target audience.

DISCUSSIONS The RIP effect illustrates how and why the impact of ambient advertising is unique to that of any other form of advertising. The three elements aforementioned break down the impact of ambient media and why it works so well for bringing Top Of Mind Awareness to a brand or a product. The relationship between the customer and the product always contributes to the buying intentions a customer has about a brand. The extraordinary nature of ambient media helps to leave a lasting impression on anyone who experiences it. The inherent dramatic surprise element of ambient media is perhaps the most important element of all. Ambient media engages the customer in a way no other media can because the consumer does not expect to experience it. This element creates drama and excitement about the ad or about the brand or product being advertised.

CONCLUSION Ambient Advertising reaches potential consumers in a unique and creative and often engaging way. This emerging form of advertising cuts through the traditional advertising clutter and sends the advertised product or brand straight to the top of the consumers mind and it stays there for a significant amount of time. Ambient media pushes the traditional limits of advertising into a whole new arena. Ambient media is the future of advertising. Ambient campaigns require a lot of preparation and a lot of creativity and they must be executed well or the campaign is wasted. The engaging nature of this new form of advertising is what consumers want. Consumers want to be engaged and interact because it is human nature. Ambient media accomplishes what traditional media conquers and more.

REFERENCES Gambetti, R. C. (2010). Ambient Communication: HOW TO ENGAGE CONSUMERS IN URBAN TOUCHPOINTS. California Management Review, 52(3), 34-51. Advertising's New Frontiers. (2004). Futurist, 38(4), 11. Okazaki, S. (2010). Global Consumer Culture Positioning: Testing Perceptions of Soft-Sell and Hard-Sell Advertising Appeals Between U.S. and Japanese Consumers. 18(2), 20-34 Duran, A. (2006). Flash mobs: Social influence in the 21st century. Social Influence, 1(4), 301-315. Hicks, M. (2009). Horizontal billboards: The commercialization of the pavement. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 23(6), 765-780. Reyburn, D. (2010). Ambient Advertising. Marketing Health Services, 30(1), 8-11. Ryan-Segger, T. (2007). HOW AMBIENT MEDIA HAS GROWN UP. B&T Weekly, 57(2603), 18-20. Shankar, A., & Horton, B. (1999). Ambient media: advertising's new media opportunity?. International Journal of Advertising, 18(3), 305-321. Alarcon, C. (2005). Ambient media innovations target upmarket consumers. B&T Weekly, 54(2502), 11. Bashford, S. (2010). Out of home top of mind. Marketing (00253650), 28-29. REICH, B. (2009). Digital Media's Key to Success: Must-Read Content. Nieman Reports, 63(3), 15.


Client: Nestle Brand Kit Kat bench Agency: JWT - London (2009)

Client: Frontline Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Jakarta, Indonesia (2009)

Client: McDonalds Agency: Cossette West- Vancouver &TBWA - Switzerland (2009)

Client: Rimmel Agency: JWT - London (2009)

Client: McDonalds Agency: DDB Group - Hong Kong (2011)

Client: Nestle Brand Kit Kat Agency: JWT- Auckland, New Zealand (2010)

Client: Proctor & Gamble Agency: Grey Worldwide in