The wrong bus


It’s a wet, cold windy morning in Sydney.

The traffic is heavy, noisy and relentless. As I wait at a set of traffic lights collecting my thoughts on my way to work, a bus pulls up at the curb in front of me. Plastered on its side is an advertisement for a company that specialises in heavy-duty industrial tools. It’s comprised of a headline, a montage of images showing the products in use, and a cluster of about twelve different logos representing the various brands that the company markets.

Due to the traffic going nowhere, I’m presented with this canvass for a few minutes and find myself asking why would a business to business company decide to spend a considerable amount of money advertising on a bus on a suburban route flashing its message to people on the street or in their cars?

As a targeted piece of advertising, it’s a total waste of money.

As a general piece of advertising, it’s a total waste of money.

So what was this company hoping to achieve with this initiative?

The only answer I can arrive at is that somehow this was tacked on as part of a general brand awareness-raising campaign that comprised of other more targeted initiatives (well at the very least let’s hope so).

Effective marketing, design and advertising need to elicit a response.

The right message to the wrong people is as big a mistake as the wrong message to the right people. What makes the former worse is that it’s so easily avoidable.

Most companies and organisations don’t have the luxury of budgets that allow them to wallpaper the market with their brand. The challenge lies in maximising the minimum. This is where strategy and planning is so crucial and unless there’s a moment of meaningful interaction between brand and customer, no matter how brief, you’ve missed the bus.

by Frank Marrazza
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