This past weekend I was going through the TSA security checkpoint at Chicago’s Midway airport when I was pleasantly surprised to see a great brandtastic idea in the bottom of the two gray security bins I was about to put my shoes and laptop in. Lining the bottom of each bin was an ad for online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos.com with a message like “Place Shoes Here. Buy Shoes Here.” with an arrow pointing to Zappos.com address or “Nice Laptop, Buy a Bag For It At Zappos.com” then the Zappos website address. Because I’m an advertising geek I got a big smile on my face when I saw these ads because I thought the messaging combined with the tactic and placement was very clever and well executed. Upon seeing the ads I was immediately engaged with them because for one, it was such an unexpected place to find an ad and secondly, the messaging was so relevent to me and my situation. If I had been thinking I would’ve taken a picture of the ads, but fortunately I was able to find other people’s pictures of the ads on Flickr. (See above and below)
I did some research later that same day and found out that Zappos has actually been placing ads in the bottom of security bins at various airports across the country for a couple of years now, however, this was the first time I had ever seen them or was aware that such a tactic was being used. Click here to read more details about the Zappos airport advertising campaign.
Personally, I think the strategy and location of the ads is creative and brilliant. These days people are bombarded daily with hundreds, if not thousands of brand messages so the challenge for any company is getting people to notice their brand and engage with it. To me, the Zappos ads accomplish all of this, but below are several other reasons why I think this is an effective non-traditional advertising tactic.
1.) What better time to talk shoes than when you’re asking someone to take them off and put them into a tray? Zappos ads reach people at the exact time they are thinking specifically about their shoes. Brilliant!
2.) Thousands of people travel through airport security checkpoints everyday and all of them have to remove their shoes before passing through. Zappos has realized this and understands that this forces people to think about their footwear. By placing target specific ads in the bottom of the usually boring gray airport security bins, Zappos.com is able to deliver a message to each and every traveler in a unique and interesting way. People are more likely to engage and remember the Zappos brand because they were reached at a time and place when they weren’t expecting to come in contact with an ad.
3.) Not only does Zappos get to reach an audience with shoes on the mind, but many of the people they reach may also be stuck in the airport for extended periods of time due to layovers or delays. In such situations, many people often go online on their smartphones or sit down and plug-in their laptops, giving them the perfeact opportunity to access Zappos.com and the Zappos’ online catalog.
What do you think though? Have you seen these ads before? If so, did you find them engaging or memorable? Do you think the messaging and tactic are effective or influence purchase behavior?
Photo Credit for second picture Scott Beale/Liquid Squid on Flickr
Photo Credit for third picture Kenn Wilson on Flickr