Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Big Brother is Talking to You

Just last week I was complaining about people putting ads on our cell phones, and now in Australia they’re doing it.

To promote the reality show Big Brother, Perth agency Marketforce has set up Bluetooth transmitters in 20 bus shelters. Messages are transmitted to the cell phones of people nearby. The first message says you’re being watched. The second message is reminder to tune into Big Brother.

Now if you’re thinking, “Wow, how clever,” then you haven’t been in the business long enough. Sure it’s clever. But that just means that a bunch of clients are going to demand that their agencies come up with something just as clever. In other words, do exactly the same thing.

Remember the birth of viral advertising? Burger King put a guy in a chicken suit on the web, and suddenly every client was screaming for a viral ad just like it. The thing they never realize is that new and original ideas work because they are NEW AND ORIGINAL. When you copy them they become dumb and annoying. Do it enough, and it’s borderline terrorism.

I suspect that soon Australia will be crawling with public spaces sending out messages to commuters. Toilets will talk about toilet paper. Fire hydrants will advertise cigarettes. And pay phones will suddenly become a lot more popular.

Details at

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