James Cridland

Some new advertising ideas are the pits

I’m six foot four, something that I’m acutely aware of in two situations: first, whenever I’m on an economy airline flight, and second, whenever I’m on a subway train in Asia.

Those useful straps from the ceiling — normally out of my way in the US and Europe, are all fighting to slap me in the face in subway trains in places like Japan, where the average height is 5’7” (171 cm) or Malaysia, where the average is 5’4” (164 cm). Those hand straps get a lot of use — just not by me.

Where I see discomfort, others see opportunity — and so it is that a new Japanese organisation called Wakino Ad Company has spotted that commuters holding on to hand straps is an…advertising opportunity.

Yes, the good folks at Wakino are hiring Japanese models with your ad in their armpits. This from a country where people have even rented out their thighs for advertising before now, so maybe it’ll catch on. The first advertiser is, it turns out, a laser hair removal company.

Radio’s ad model is, in the main, still based on 30-seconds of someone shouting at you, followed by five or six more people shouting at you, then a nice jingle and back to the music. We’ve typically been pretty bad at maintaining the price for these things, too, so the interruptions have grown longer and more often.

On visiting the United States in the mid 2000s, one broadcaster proudly told us that his station had 47 minutes of commercials every hour in the breakfast show. Yikes.

Re-thinking how the revenue model works is a challenge; but we need to keep thinking.

I’ve nothing particularly to base this on, but I have a feeling that the days of the six-minute-long advertising stopset, (and the banner ad, for that matter) are going away. We should be focusing both on increasing revenue AND on reducing the amount of spots sold. This isn’t just a rate integrity issue — it’s a programming issue, too.

African radio has done some clever re-thinking, as Steve Martin from the BBC told the Next Radio conference in 2013 — selling funeral announcements, hiring a village hall, and even moving all the commercials into one hour in the late afternoon (which astonishingly works).

I’d not recommend any of that — and certainly wouldn’t go for advertising in armpits — but any ideas for replacements for the long advertising stopsets would be welcome.