Here's the Next Ad Medium: Bike Lanes
PepsiCo's Naked Juice is taking its advertising to a marketing road less traveled: bike lanes.
Beginning this month, ads for the brand began appearing along paths at a public park in Dallas and in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Negotiations are underway to bring branded bike lanes to Boston and Portland, Ore.
The approach is part of the "everything is media" strategy pushed by the marketer's media agency, Omnicom Group's OMD. While marketers have long slapped ads on public trains and buses, no one has targeted bike lanes on this scale, according to OMD.
"We try to get in those white spaces where there isn't advertising," said Tracy Quitasol, the East Coast director for OMD's Ignition Factory, which is the shop's innovation unit. Bike lanes are "just one of those places," she added.
In Dallas, Naked Juice worked out a deal with the city's parks department to created a banded path in Fair Park, which is east of downtown. The brand placed decals on the ground every 75 feet along a path that runs for five miles. On certain days, people in branded Naked Juice trucks hand out free samples to cyclists.
Naked has brought similar branding to a bike trail in an area of Ft. Lauderdale known as Riverwalk.
Bringing ads to normally commercial-free terrain carries some risks, like looking exploitive. Andrea Theodore, senior director-marketing for PepsiCo's Naked Emerging Brands, responded to a question about that potential concern in an email by saying that the campaign was designed to "address Naked's target consumer's key attributes: beverage drinkers who lead healthy and active lifestyles and who are connected to nature, family and community plus seek variety and new life experiences." She added that Naked consumers are "constantly on the go, so these branded bike lanes are a creative and authentic way to talk to them where they already are."
It is also a relatively inexpensive form of advertising. Naked paid the Dallas park between $6,000 and $8,000 for the monthlong activation, said Celia Barshop, senior park manager for Fair Park and community services at the City of Dallas's parks and recreation department. "It's low-cost advertising, lots of eyeballs, so the ROI goes up per unit exponentially," she said. She estimated that 800 to 3,000 people visit the 277-acre park each day, although figures were not available on the number of people using the bike path.
While some other Dallas parks are prohibited from selling advertising, Fair Park has a special classification as an entertainment venue that allows the park to do some "tasteful marketing and advertising," Ms. Barshop said. The Naked ads were a "good audience match" for the park because of the brand's family and health image, she added.
But the brand had to clear several regulatory hurdles. For instance, Naked had to use special "skid-free" decals as a safety precaution, said Evan Korn, a partner with iDEKO Productions, an events and entertainment agency that was involved in the deal.
Besides collecting some extra revenue, the park saw the deal as a way to help to promote cycling after recently installing a couple of bike rental stations. The Naked branded path covers a route that had not previously been designated specifically for cycling.
Naked's media strategy has involved other unconventional buys. For instance, the brand recently advertised with Amazon's locker program, which allows users to pick up goods ordered online at lockers in brick-and-mortar stores. Lockers in 121 locations in seven markets were wrapped in Naked branding. As part of the deal, Naked created digital coupons that were included in emails Amazon sends to users notifying them when purchases were ready to be picked up.