What My Day at the Beach Taught Me About Ad Clutter

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NOELLE WEAVER: Summer [and consequently the heat] was upon many of us this weekend. And many of us tried to find ways to escape. For me it was hopping on a train and taking an hour ride to one of my favorite beaches in the New York City region. I went to get a little sun. Conquer a bit more of my summer reading list. Eat a little ice cream and splash around in the water. Most of all I went to relax and get away from the city and noise for a day. So it was with some displeasure to arrive and find anything but peace and quiet. There were three different noisy airplanes circling overhead with ad banners trailing behind them. At some point an airplane skywriter. A boat with a sail that advertised a financial services company floated past swimmers a few times. A number of young folks waded through the crowd and handed out free samples of a new beverage to anyone who would take one. And the kicker, a free ‘tattoo’ stand where young women were lining up to get a corporate logo branded on their thighs. Is nothing sacred anymore? On his blog (seen on PSFK.com), UK account planner Russell Davies Russell describes this mass proliferation of disruptive ads as "Urban Spam." He writes of this phenomenon, “it's all part of the last desperate interruptive marketing arms race, which is just going to annoy every consumer on earth before the industry learns that attention needs to earned not bought.” This weekend I had to agree. If you stop to take a moment and look at the myriad of consumer created content out there, from social networking sites to photo sharing, online video and others, you can begin to boil it down to some pretty basic fundamentals that we, as marketers, can learn from. Consumers want to be part of a bigger community. They want to be informed [with information relevant to them] and entertained. Not interrupted. Somewhere along the way, marketers realized that if they couldn’t reach a mass audience on TV they could reach them through other methods in their daily lives, be it coffee shop or beauty parlor. The result? ‘Cut through the clutter’ has not only become one of the most over-used phrases today, it has also become somewhat of an oxymoron. As you begin to brainstorm those great creative ideas think to yourself: Are you engaging the consumer in a natural and organic way? Or forcing yourself into their lives? Are you just adding to the clutter?
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