Thinking Outside The Barn

By Peter Cronin | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | No Comments

It’s been a while since a simple print ad has stopped me in my tracks. But the big black & white image of Taylor Swift promoting her new Reputation album really caught my attention. Wait, a big blaring advertisement for a new record on the side of a UPS truck? On the side of every UPS truck? That’s a bit odd. Which is exactly why it has had such an impact.

Not surprisingly, Swift and her marketing team tied their ubiquitous print ad to a sophisticated online promotion/contest around the artist’s upcoming tour. But they hooked us with a good old-fashioned, strategically and surprisingly placed print ad.

Actually, that approach isn’t so new. Back in 1925, the Burma-Shave company began advertising their “brushless” shaving cream with signs placed along the nation’s highways. After driving by five consecutive, rhyming signs, motorists were hit with the punch line, always containing the product name, on sign number six. Sales went through the roof.

The roof also provided a perfectly disruptive palette for Rock City founder Garnet Carter back in 1935. In an effort to attract vacationers to his Chattanooga tourist destination, Carter began painting his now-famous “See Rock City” message on barns across the south. By the time he retired in 1969, Carter had painted 900 barns across 19 states as Rock City enjoyed steady success through the decades.

As drawn as we are to the latest digitally driven marketing methods, it’s important to remember the considerable disruptive power of the unexpected. By thinking “outside the barn” and utilizing conventional ideas in distinctly unconventional ways, we can produce results that are anything but ordinary.

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