An Apple, A Proposal and Don't

In a city with almost 9 million residents and one which never sleeps, getting noticed ain’t easy. According to an article written in the New York Times, we see approximately 5,000 ad messages daily.

So if you’re a brand and you need to build market share in a place like New York, communicate a position, promise or a product benefit then you had better be clever and possess a ton of creativity.

In the “olden days” you needed to combine your creativity with plenty of money to achieve reach, but thanks to the “connectivity economy” today, enabled by mobile technology + social media, we are each mini media companies and social channels are free to use, share and engage with.

However, free doesn’t always guarantee success. If what you’re selling isn’t packaged well, doesn’t tell a compelling story (even a one liner) and isn’t in the right channels, your message will fade into the great advertising Bermuda Triangle… as quickly as something can be posted on social media, it can also disappear if people don’t rate it worthy of liking, commenting or better still sharing.

The trick is to stop chasing eyeballs and instead create connections with customers.

Different scenario if your message is on a giant billboard in Times Square. You will likely capture eyeballs (especially if you follow the current theme of using beauty, youth and a clever headline in your ad) as you’ve paid for a commitment to be featured for a period of time so your message won’t disappear quite as fast, however there is no guarantee there will be a connection… or that it will be a) noticed or b) remembered.

It makes for an interesting marketing environment. No longer the domain of big business with deep pockets, attaining cut through today is dependent on being really clever. Creativity is king. Here’s some clever cut through and creativity which caught my attention in the big apple this week.

An actual apple! Sitting alone in all its glory on the Brooklyn Bridge with “Ask A New Yorker” written on it. I have no idea how long that 1 apple had been there for, nor how long it remained after many of the walkers that day took a photo of it. All I know is it cut through. I wonder how many people like myself checked out their website? I wonder how many posted their pic to social media and shared that website beyond the walker community that day? Simple and a great example of cost effective creativity. 

Donald Trump = Simple. One of the best billboards I have seen because it demonstrates cleverness in a very intelligent, creative manner. No gorgeous young women wearing little clothing needed here… What many of us thought was the Economist was instead the work of a clever ad agency art director, Stephen O’Neill from AML, who with some elegant typography photoshopped into a New York billboard and won AML’s internal creative award. But then his idea escaped onto the internet. It was picked up by an agency staffer in Singapore, who shared it with his followers. Over one weekend it quickly spread round the world. I posted this image on Linked In and had over 700 likes, a number of comments and many also continued to share it. It connected with people. Sorry Donald, probably not a message you would find as clever as we do. 

And then we get personal. Not a brand or a product message but a marriage proposal on a bridge in Central Park. A well written sign, a bunch of red roses and an impatient looking and hopeful fiancée… I asked around and he had been there for an hour already. I counted 20 people taking pictures of the scene in the 2 minutes I crossed the bridge so likely at least 100 more did the same in that hour. It cut through but did Sihana say yes? She did! You can see how it unfolded here thanks to video and photographic studio, Albapro who captured the scenes which unfolded 

I will leave you with a fantastic headline I saw from a big global bank (who knew!) which has stayed with me during the week and well targeted to the diversity positioning New York celebrates: 

Most people are here for the culture… you’re here to help build it.

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