Heinz recently decided that it will no longer promote its products on TV but switch to direct marketing. Following its lead, a number of advertisers are beginning to question whether TV is the most effective medium through which to target consumers.
Trevor Nicholson, managing director of Golf Media, has signed up a range of clients to advertise in golf holes since the business started up a year ago. Besides Glenmorangie, they include Mercedes Benz dealers, Lloyds Bank, British Gas and Forte Crest Hotels. 'It is not just a gimmick but a highly effective medium,' Mr Nicholson said. 'We have a nationwide network of 500 clubs where we can target a very specific market.'
That market is wealthy middle-aged males - 'a very difficult audience to reach,' said Mr Nicholson. 'The traditional way of getting to them is through advertisements in business publications such as the Economist, which can cost around pounds 20,000. For that amount of money you can be on a hundred golf courses nationwide for six months.'
Golf Media claims that golfers' awareness of Glenmorangie shot up from 9 to 62 per cent, following a round on courses running the ad.
The advertising agency Bainsfair Sharkey Trott is aiming for a hole-in-one on behalf of its client, the analgesic back rub 'Tiger Balm'. Paul Bainsfair, chief executive, said: 'We are looking at creative use of media to maximise the effect of a very small budget. Golf holes are a good solution because when golfers are bending down to pick up the ball they may suffer a twinge of back pain - it's a humorous and effective way of promoting the product.'
Away from the greens in the mass market, consumers are now being reached through in- store ads - on supermarket trolleys and on the floor tiles beneath their feet. Floor Media ran a pilot scheme in a Sainsbury's Savacentre store last June and says it is now dealing with a host of advertisers anxious to promote their brands on ceramic blocks. Lawrence Marzell, managing director, said: 'It targets people who are in the process of shopping. The ads are very noticeable, and consumers' kids love them.' They are also relatively cheap, with a rate card value of pounds 50 per panel per month.
Among clients now using Floor Media are Tetley, Strongbow Cider, Johnson & Johnson, Oxo and Switch, the last of which sits near tills and encourages consumers to pay for their purchases using the debit card. Although floor advertising is currently only on show at supermarkets, it is to be extended to the high street in Woolworth's and Superdrug.
Later this year, consumers will also be in the company of mobile ads. Escalator Information Systems is due to have up to 60 installations in UK shopping centres by Christmas, followed by a further 500 sites in the next five years.
John Humphrey, managing director at EIS, said: 'It offers a host of opportunities to advertisers such as credit cards, retailers who are holding sales, or cross-promotions between manufacturers of TVs, for example, and the stores which are selling them.'
Buying space on escalators will also be relatively cheap. Mr Humphrey said: 'We anticipate that the average mall escalator will cost pounds 1,800 a month. In New Zealand, where the system has been in use for some time, successful increases in sales have been measured.'
Part of the attraction of alternative media is their novelty. Gareth John, marketing director at Eggvertising, which was responsible for promoting BT's daytime rate on the nation's eggs, said: 'It was a great campaign; it generated a lot of publicity for BT because it is quirky.' But the media must be effective as well as offbeat.
'Eggs are bought by 98 per cent of the UK's households, so think of the potential for advertisers. For example, suppliers of bacon and sausages could cross- promote on eggs.'
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