Off-beat Advertising
If there is one thing that almost all of us are constantly surrounded by in modern times, it is advertisements. Ads have become an almost inescapable facet of our daily lives. Whether it is the innocuous chocolate wrapper that we threw in the bin or it is the huge billboard staring at us on the highway, or the jingle blaring from the neighbour’s television sets, our senses are continuously bombarded with ads, consciously or subconsciously. Ads have become so pervasive, all around us, that we hardly tend to even notice them anymore! Thus, failing the entire purpose of why they were created, in the first place!!!Most advertisers realize very well that with so many ads jostling for attention in the consumer’s mind-space, their respective ads stand a very weak chance of retention in the target audience’s memories. So, most of them are willing to dig deep into their pockets and buy prime-time slots on various media, engage high-flying ad agencies and make all efforts within their reach just so that their respective ads would get noticed.

However, as in every field, the strategy of innovation steps in the field of advertising too, to achieve the same goals with fewer resources and better results. For instance, while the sum of $30,000 may appear to be too much to be paid to a single person for advertising a product, it will appear to be a pittance when we discover that the person is carrying the ad around on his forehead! The quirkiness of the medium carrying the ad, and not so much as the ad itself, is enough to make the ad stand out.

And while another advertiser may not have been able to grab eyeballs by putting his brand of sunglasses on the presidents of Mt. Rushmore, the publicity that his outlandish offer received, sure grabbed attention enough.

Another common ploy used by some advertisers is to make ads that outrage the public, whether by offending their sense of decency or nationalism or any other emotional issue. However, this strategy is a double-edged sword in that, it may get easy publicity and make their ads stand out, but it could also spoil the reputation of the company, in the long run. For instance, the critically acclaimed ‘UNHATE’ Campaign by United Colors of Benetton – the campaign indeed served its purpose thereby harnessing the much-needed attention for the brand, but it ignited a new debate on defining a distinct horizon for crafting advertisements to seek eyeballs with an overt reference to social justice.

Instead, companies prefer to play it safe with the other kinds of non-traditional advertising, like going for innovative guerrilla ads, product placements or even stealth advertising. Even guided tours of their factories offered by a famous Indian automobile company or by a famous brand of perfumes in Oman, go a big way in the building of the brand image. Here the size of the target audience is small, but the impact is very long-lasting.

In short, whether the advertisement is subtle or right-into-your-face kind and whether it is retro to outrageous to plain stupid, if it keeps your mind occupied even when it is out of sight, chances are it has done its job. Moreover, if it transcends the thin line of distinction between a want and a need, changing the perception of a product from that of ‘desire’ to that of ‘necessity’ it has achieved what it set out to.

As somebody once rightly said, “With a good ad, one can even sell refrigerators to Eskimos!!.”