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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dickensian advertising techniques for 21st century business and politics.

Is it time for some retro-advertising techniques for the business and political worlds?

You don’t get more 21st century than a Wolves-Aston Villa match. What is surprising, is seeing the style of one of the techniques used to advertise the event. In the last century and before, it was common place to see pedestrians walking the street and carrying display boards hung from the shoulders – a type of A board. They either advertised consumables or noted that the end of the world was nigh. So it was a surprise today, to see somebody doing the same and inviting one to buy tickets for the said match. Time, date, price and vendor details were read easily. You felt you were in a time warp and it certainly caught the attention. But this was not a one off.

A month before, I had seen something similar at various road junctions around the city. This time it was an entrepreneur and franchisee-holder advertising his fast food wares – a spoiling action to counter the opening of a competitor nearby. The imaginative spoiler employed forty students over the weekend. Recruited from a local college and paid above the minimum wage, the students worked in shifts at road junctions to convey the messages on their boards.

So what? Well, it was low key, simple, cheap – almost intermediate technology and in the slow-moving traffic flow, the message was put over effectively. It stood out from the usual marketing and advertising techniques with which we are bombarded. We have our trade fair vertical banners today, but somehow we don’t do just justice to the investment placed in their design and manufacture. Political hoardings are being ridiculed by subversive graffiti copywriters, whilst the rotating electronic devices lack a certain presence. Perhaps a revisit to Dickensian media might be worth a try. It really would be localism and if business is giving it a try why not politics?