Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Media girl, interrupted.

Here's a little tip, straight from me to you: If you don't like running on the treadmill, don't sign up for a race that will require significant amounts of training in the winter. Sure, you can bundle up and face the cold, but at some point, slippery sidewalks and freezing temperatures will force you indoors. But, as runners, we persevere. As lovers of running, we learn to also love the treadmill, to appreciate the fact that it allows us to run when Mother Nature will not. That said, I will probably not be signing up for a January race next year.

So last night, I'm on the treadmill, blissfully absorbed in my favorite playlist and the captions on CNN, when someone decides to let their three young children enter the gym unattended. They run and scream and throw the stability balls around, prancing like wildebeests for a good fifteen minutes, just long enough to totally spoil my run. The guy running next to me was giving me the "is this for real?" face, so I know he feels me, too. Despite my love-hate relationship with the treadmill, running time is my precious, peaceful me-time in the gym, my haven, and I do so hate to see it interrupted by chaos and discord.

In this time-driven culture, people, unless they are bored or looking for some sort of escape, do not like interruptions (myself included, obviously). Not to say that interruptions are bad, but they can be jarring and unpleasant for the interrupted party, and can create bad juju around the interruption if handled improperly.

As a media planner, I am in the business of interruptions. How can my brand, something my target consumer does not inherently care about, become part of his or her day? How can I squeeze it in there, and give it meaning?

*Warning: Impending Advertising Metaphor*

All too often, ad campaigns are the screaming children in the gym of life. Advertisers get caught up in the promotion, creative execution, or one-upping the competition, what-have-you, and forget about the happy consumer there on the treadmill, not wanting to have proverbial stability balls thrown in his or her face. But, there’s no need to do it like that! I love advertising, and I love it the most when it is seamless, relevant, and adds value to my life. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing to take a potentially frustrating, annoying little advertising interruption and spin it into something useful. But how?

Be seamless.
Don’t interrupt, integrate! You’ve done the research; you know your consumer and your product like the back of your hand. Be choosy in your media, and wherever you can, enhance and be enhanced by the environments you select. Really smart media placements make my little heart swelleth over.

I recently saw iPod Nano running some big, beautiful rich banners on the Youtube homepage, showing how you can use the new Nano to make your own videos. Information about a new way to make videos on a video-watching website for people who like to make and watch videos. I'm going to say video, just one more time. Video. Seamless!

Be relevant.
Not all media placements are seamless, but that doesn’t necessarily make them less excellent. If you’re going to interrupt, be cool about it. Seek media refuge in environments that have your target consumer absorbed on a related topic, or in a state of mind that lends to your message. Customize your message for the media, and watch your consumer’s eye wander over to your life-enhancing interruption.

Don Q rum touted its US launch and the LadyData experiment via tiny banners on the Happy Houred iPhone app. Happy Houred is a deal-slinging operation that shows users the bar specials in their proximity. Definitely a relevant environment and mind-state, talking spirits with drink-seekers. Snippets of LadyData’s info on how to interact with the ladies in bar environments bridge the gap. Relevance!

Seamlessness! Relevance! America!

We aim to show consumers that our brand adds value to their lives. Truth is, there's a lot of advertising out there, and it’s our job to find a way to interrupt without screaming. So maybe try being helpful.

Sample metaphorical running interruption:
“Jen! You like running! Did you know that this heart rate monitor can show you when you’re about to pass your lactate threshold and cramp up?”
Actually no, I didn’t. Heart rate monitor? That would improve my life. Tell me more! Where can I get one of these? And, thank you for not throwing the ball in my face. You respect me and my time, and therefore, I respect you.

As we move into the new year, let's all challenge ourselves to interrupt with decorum. I’m going to thank you in advance for not screaming.


  1. I agree. In the days ahead brand communication will need to focus on fitting in (with their customers lives) instead of sticking out (and getting in the way).