9 Unique Ambient Advertisements

As I researched a recent article on innovative outdoor advertising, I came across quite a few examples of ads placed in unique settings. These communications, meant to surprise consumers by making their brands stand out, are referred to as "ambient" advertising by some, and "guerilla" advertising by others. Whatever the name, they brought a smile to my face, so I thought I would share them here.

1. Big Pilot Watches

I've always found the best way to tell if I like a watch is to try it on. So these Big Pilot watches printed on German bus straps might have been a very effective way to get me in a buying mood. Then again, maybe they would only remind me of how late I was.

2. Mr. Clean

MrClean

I've seen a few of these crosswalk ads, but this is my favorite. You know those stripes are always pretty filthy, so seeing one really bright line is sure to get your attention. At least that's what Proctor & Gamble was hoping when they polished one stripe on German crosswalks, and decorated them with a Mr. Clean logo. Now let's just hope no one was mesmerized enough to forget about the oncoming traffic.

3. School of Visual Arts

sva

You're a visual arts school, and you want potential students to get in touch with their inner Picasso. Why not remind them that great ideas can happen anywhere? New York's School of Visual Arts encouraged people to write down their thoughts by printing lined paper on everyday objects like restaurant napkins, sugar packets, and even toilet paper. Inspired concept plus clean design equals effective advertising.

4. Toronto Comedy Film Festival

pie-face
Who doesn't love watching someone get a pie in the face? Next to slipping on a banana peel, it's probably the most classic physical comedy move there is. So these revolving door decals promoting Toronto's comedy film festival were sure to get Canadians in a slapstick mood. Just imagine seeing your boss coming through that entrance.

5. Cancer Patients Aid Association

smoker-funeral

If you were smoking in a designated smoking area and you saw this ceiling poster, depicting a funeral going on above your grave, do you think you might put out the butt? These morbid reminders, created by the Everest Brand Solutions agency of Mumbai, were meant to do just that. Then again, if you're so desperate for a smoke that you can't wait until you get outside, you might need more than a clever poster.

6. Purell

mag-germs

This one hits pretty close to home. I'm a bit of a clean freak, and I probably hit the Purell bottle a dozen times a day. You may think that's excessive. Then again, you haven't seen the crowd I hang with. Anyway, if I were in my doctor's office leafing through magazines and I saw a sticker on the cover that read "Gently sneezed on since October 2002," I might just insist on an anti-bacterial shower right there.

7. Iams

dogs

Saatchi & Saatchi of Sydney gave out frisbees resembling barbell weights to promote how dogs can gain strength by eating Iams dog food. Can't you just imagine dozens of dogs in a park playing catch with barbell weights?

8. Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership

HumanTraffic

You're looking for a nice sirloin or rib eye, and you jump back as you see a naked woman staring at you. That's the reaction Luxembourg ad agency Mikado Publicis was looking for when they printed images of women inside food packaging and placed them in the meat sections of local super markets. The campaign was meant to drive awareness of human trafficking, with copy that reads, "If you pay a prostitute, you're financing human trading..." That would get a shopper's attention.

9. Spiderman III

spiderman-urinal

And this gets my personal first prize for funniest ambient effort. When I walk into a public restroom looking for a vacant urinal, my eyes usually don't drift ten feet up the wall. This Spiderman III ad is hysterical, and it might have made me want to see the flick in theaters instead of waiting until the DVD came out. And it also proves that no space is off limits in the world of guerilla advertising.

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Why a Readily Available Used Paperback Is Selling for Thousands of Dollars on Amazon
iStock
iStock

At first glance, getting ahold of a copy of One Snowy Knight, a historical romance novel by Deborah MacGillivray, isn't hard at all. You can get the book, which originally came out in 2009, for a few bucks on Amazon. And yet according to one seller, a used copy of the book is worth more than $2600. Why? As The New York Times reports, this price disparity has more to do with the marketing techniques of Amazon's third-party sellers than it does the market value of the book.

As of June 5, a copy of One Snowy Knight was listed by a third-party seller on Amazon for $2630.52. By the time the Times wrote about it on July 15, the price had jumped to $2800. That listing has since disappeared, but a seller called Supersonic Truck still has a used copy available for $1558.33 (plus shipping!). And it's not even a rare book—it was reprinted in July.

The Times found similar listings for secondhand books that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than their market price. Those retailers might not even have the book on hand—but if someone is crazy enough to pay $1500 for a mass-market paperback that sells for only a few dollars elsewhere, that retailer can make a killing by simply snapping it up from somewhere else and passing it on to the chump who placed an order with them.

Not all the prices for used books on Amazon are so exorbitant, but many still defy conventional economic wisdom, offering used copies of books that are cheaper to buy new. You can get a new copy of the latest edition of One Snowy Knight for $16.99 from Amazon with Prime shipping, but there are third-party sellers asking $24 to $28 for used copies. If you're not careful, how much you pay can just depend on which listing you click first, thinking that there's not much difference in the price of used books. In the case of One Snowy Knight, there are different listings for different editions of the book, so you might not realize that there's a cheaper version available elsewhere on the site.

An Amazon product listing offers a mass-market paperback book for $1558.33.
Screenshot, Amazon

Even looking at reviews might not help you find the best listing for your money. People tend to buy products with the most reviews, rather than the best reviews, according to recent research, but the site is notorious for retailers gaming the system with fraudulent reviews to attract more buyers and make their way up the Amazon rankings. (There are now several services that will help you suss out whether the reviews on a product you're looking at are legitimate.)

For more on how Amazon's marketplace works—and why its listings can sometimes be misleading—we recommend listening to this episode of the podcast Reply All, which has a fascinating dive into the site's third-party seller system.

[h/t The New York Times]

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Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

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