Monday, September 22, 2008

The Year of the Depend Undergarment

[ed. note: I began this posting back in May, before my summer-of-too-much-work-and-too-little-time, before my blog & my tweets became casualties of my schedule, and before the extraordinary talent of David Foster Wallace was silenced by his suicide. RIP, DFW]

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace's 1996 novel, predicted a not-so-distant future, where brand advertising has infiltrated our lives so completely that even time is sponsored. Calendar years are no longer designated by numbers, they're named after products:
Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad, and Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.

Back then, I thought the idea of sponsored time was humorous, in the way that a real idea exaggerated beyond logic becomes funny. But today, I'm thinking maybe not so much funny as prescient. It seems like everyone is looking for the last remaining untapped media areas - those bits of everyday life hiding in plain sight, until someone says: "Doh! Let's put an ad here!" The sides of buses, the roofs of taxis, wrapped around cars, everywhere you look, blank space has been infiltrated by advertising. From sports and arts venues that get stuck with the prosaic names of of their sponsors (Monster Park? PNC Bank Arts Center?), to the ads laminated to the bottom of the security bins I recently saw at Richmond Airport (Zappos: "Getting shoes through security isn't always fast. Buying them is.") branding is popping up everywhere.

All of that media ingenuity got me to thinking, what's left? Where is the rest of the still unexploited real estate that captures eyeballs in a meaningful way? I came up with a few ideas. Feel free to add to them, steal them, or come to the conclusion that some things may be better off left unsponsored.

1. Booty Banners. Witnessed walking past a NYC construction site: two cute young women in tight jeans sashaying; men in hard hats staring and hooting. Me, thinking hmmmm, is there are beer brand on the planet that wouldn't love to see armies of young men follow their logo down the street?

2. Elevator Door :15s. Yeah, yeah, you're thinking I must have been living under a rock for the past few years - elevatortainment tv is old news. OK, it is. But ads run on the outside of the doors, where all attention is focused in efforts to telepathically summon the elevator car, is new news.

3. Subway Pop-Up Stores. It seems that no matter how much the MTA raises its fares, there's never enough money to get their budget out of its hole. Why not rent out portions of subway cars as "pop-up" stores. Think about it. Probably 90% of the train riding population shops at Duane Reade. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to pick up a container of hand sanitizer on a crowded east side local?

copyright, brands, infringement, marketing, branding, advertising, sponsorship