Corporate Eye

Recession Bodes Well for Ambient Media

subway-adWhy is ambient advertising growing as the economy plunges?  Because everyone is looking for a way to make some extra money when the economy is weak.  It’s a great time for brands to find super deals on ambient media placement and for new locations to get in on the action to make some extra cash.

According to an article in Brandweek, the current recession is bringing a wider variety of ambient media placement opportunities to brands and advertisers than ever.  Check out some of the more unique ambient media opportunities mentioned in the article:

  • The roof of a high school in Houston – 160,000 square feet of space that’s perfectly visible to airplane passengers arriving at or departing from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
  • Branded station stops on Chicago’s “L” transit line.
  • Ad wrapped subway trains (inside and out) in New York City
  • Ads on floors, station turnstiles and columns in New York City subway stations.
  • Ads on city trash cans in Brooklyn, New York.
  • 8-foot ads on construction scaffolding in Brooklyn (not yet approved).
  • Ads on the exteriors of school buses in a number of school districts across the United States.
  • Naming rights for Colorado’s new state park (under consideration).
  • Branded subway stations in New York City (under consideration).

This type of ambient media advertising is at the center of debates from municipalities and businesses that need to make extra money vs. groups that don’t like the idea of seeing ads everywhere they turn.  From a branding standpoint, if the target audience is available, out-of-the-box ambient advertising can be a great solution to drive brand awareness and business.  However, our surroundings are already so cluttered with messages, it’s difficult for brands to stand out from the crowd.  I argue that out-of-the-box advertising creative that enhances the environment rather than just filling it with yet another advertising message is the way to find common ground in this debate. 

It makes me think of the current Kleenex promotion where artists were invited to submit concepts for the Kleenex tissue box commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month.  Imagine a similar contest to create ads for a brand that would appear on the walls of the subway station (and the subways themselves) that people take to visit a popular New York City museum such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  In other words, there are ways to make ambient advertising just as unique and interesting as the placement in order to enhance the environment and the brand.

What do you think?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.