London Bus Ads Change as Locations Do

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[London] For the first time London buses can change their advertising messages according to their location, thanks to GPS technology being pioneered by U.K. directory service Yell.com.

The location-specific advertising is making its debut in London in September with a campaign created by digital agency AKQA, London. As a bus travels its route, the advertising message will change. For example, it might suggest "Find a gym in Marble Arch" and later "Discover a restaurant in Charing Cross." Marketers will now be able to highlight product promotions near their stores or drive sales of slow-moving products in individual areas.

"Taking the simple proposition that Yell.com gives you results for real life and using media channels that allow us to target messages geographically, the advertising effectively demonstrates Yell.com's local expertise and the breadth of information the site offers," said Barbara Newman, Yell.com's head of communications and brand development.

As well as the changing bus messages, Yell.com (part of Yell Group, which also owns Yellow Book in the U.S.) will be first to make use of digital six-sheets at bus shelters.

These include interactive screens highlighting local stores, restaurants and bars. Each execution is customized for the location and pedestrians can interact with the poster to reveal a local map showing the shops, restaurants and bars within walking distance.

James Davies, board director at Hyperspace, the digital arm of outdoor-media agency Posterscope, which worked on the campaign, said, "Digital is the fastest-growing sector within out-of-home advertising due to its ability to add new levels of flexibility both from a media-planning and a creative perspective." -emma hall

Li Ning forms alliance with Shaquille O'Neal

[beijing] Chinese sportswear marketer Li Ning has scored a prominent alliance with Miami Heat basketball star Shaquille O'Neal in its latest effort to give its brand the international flair that appeals to young Chinese consumers. A line of basketball shoes and apparel called Li Ning Shaq goes on sale in China in January.

Outdoor and print ads by Leo Burnett, Beijing, broke last week and play on the pronunciation of Mr. O'Neal's name, which is similar to XiaKe, a respectful description of skillful martial-arts practitioners in China's sword-fighting era. The campaign calls the basketball star "Master Xia," which can be translated as "Oriental Zorro."

The campaign includes a microsite (li-ning.com/32) developed by Arc Worldwide that documents Mr. O'Neal's visit to Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai on Aug. 14-19, to promote the line, supported by an SMS initiative sent by mobile phone to young Chinese in 15 cities, informing them of Mr. O'Neal's visit to China and directing them to the microsite.

Teens in China, now sophisticated consumers thanks to their addiction to the internet and its access to information about global trends, have made Nike and Adidas the top two players in that market, despite Li Ning's heritage. The company's namesake, a charismatic gymnastics star, was China's first Olympic hero.

But Li Ning's home-court advantage hasn't been enough to keep up with the marketing muscle that its global rivals are pouring into China, where young consumers focus more on trends than nationalism when choosing brands.

Li Ning has fought back by focusing on basketball and football, dominated by foreign athletes, rather than sports in which Chinese typically excel, such as gymnastics and table tennis. In January, the marketer signed up another National Basketball Association player, the Cleveland Cavaliers' Damon Jones, who has endorsed Li Ning's Fei Jai ("Flying Armor") basketball shoes.

-normandy madden

MTV introduces branded debit card in Vietnam

[hong kong]MTV Networks has launched a branded debit card in Vietnam with MasterCard International and Vietcombank. Aimed at 18-34 year-olds, the card will offer young Vietnamese exclusive discounts at major clothing and music retailers, chances to win tickets to international concerts in Vietnam and opportunities to win prizes and tickets to MTV events across Asia. MTV, whose programming is seen in more than 7 million homes in Vietnam, has one other branded debit card in Asia with Lippo Bank in Indonesia. Unlike the Vietcombank card, the Visa Electron card is only valid in Indonesia and cannot be used internationally. MTV also offers credit cards (not debit cards like in Asia) in the U.S. and some European countries.

-normandy madden

FYI...

omnicom group's Diversified Agency Services (DAS) group will acquire a majority stake in Gotocustomer Services, a New Delhi-based company that provides field and retail marketing services and promotional events in more than 30 Indian cities to marketers such as Microsoft, Pepsi, Philips, and Intel. ... Also in India, Universal McCann is merging with Lodestar Media, Mumbai, a fast-growing media agency also owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., to form Lodestar Universal. The company will be run by Lodestar's CEO Shashi Sinha.
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