Finding Unique Ad Space to Sell

21 Feb

Last week, I was about to snap open a banana when I noticed an interesting twist to the normally unnoticeable Chiquita banana sticker- it had an advertisement for Nintendo Wii’s Donkey Kong. I thought that was a brilliantly simple concept- Donkey Kong ads on a banana. What better example of an alignment of brands could there be besides a banana and a banana-throwing ape? You could imagine myriad instances where this same unique solution could be applied: Orange mobile could buy add space on oranges; the Food Network could buy ad space on just about any fruit or vegetable; maybe even sex toy companies could buy ad space on cucumbers?

The point is that advertising has evolved so much over the last few decades, as it has moved away from its traditional reliance on radio, print and television and into new mediums. There is a point of saturation where consumers feel overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of ads thrown in their faces at any given moment: bus stops, buses, billboards, buildings…there are few surface areas in our cities that have not, at some point, lent themselves to advertisements.

What the Chiquita banana showed me was that advertising can be subtle and charming. Product placement is a well-established tool in the arts, from annoyingly catchy Lady Gaga videos to Vince and the gangs’ penchant for Bud Light on HBO’s Entourage. Many budding businesses have sprung up around this space in recent years, including the boutique agency that arranged for the product placement in “Telephone”.

I think there is a potential business opportunity at the intersection of product placement and what Chiquita did, which is essentially renting space on its logo and packaging. There are so many products that consumers buy that would lend themselves to this type of advertising platform, but the challenge would be ensuring that the cross-industry advertising is in line with each respective company’s brand image.

Let’s think about a few examples, borrowing again from this move by Chiquita. What were the costs to them? Printing new stickers. How much did Nintendo pay for that square inch of add space? Good question. The moral of the story here is that Chiquita incurred a minimal cost  to establish the banana as an advertising platform, as it was already printing stickers and placing them on the banana in the first place. Where else could this happen? Sure, other veggies and fruits are natural candidates, but lets step away from the fruit aisle for a bit. In fact, let’s get out of the grocery store completely. Could P&G sell ad space to a non-compete firm on the back of Tide? What if Huggies sold ad space on the back of every diaper it manufactured? They already print designs on the back of the little poopy pants, so the technical challenge of printing advertisements wouldn’t be that big of a hurdle. Think moms would still buy Huggies if they were printed with an ad for Gerber products? Maybe Johnson & Johnson could charge enough for that ad space to charge less for the product and still earn higher margins. Everyone wins!

I hope this is the only post where I mention sex toys and babies in the same breath, but those extreme examples just go to show how broadly applicable this cross-branding advertising platform could be.

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