For all of the stealth creative endeavors that the world’s best marketer has done, I have to pull a bone from the bowl on this one…
As a big reader of the Chicago Tribune, I uncovered this sticky one from Juile Deardorff’s blog “Julie’s Health Club.”
Nike in the first year of the sponsored training program for the Chicago Bank of America Marathon stealthily placed 10 decals smack in the middle of the asphalt bike lanes in five different locations on the lakefront path. Supposedly, the ads were so close together that a runner on a soft jog could see an ad every three to four seconds.
Although the ads were for a 17-week free training program, they were easily removable, and they could be removed after three days, Nike not only didn’t receive permission from the Chicago Park District, but also the natural landscape of the lakefront’s jogging path was disturbed.
Now, I can understand the Chicago Park District wanting to garner ad revenue from advertising in public places. They’re not only ripe for the taking with the amount of pedestrian traffic and watchful eyes, but also the revenue is steered toward park maintenance. Yet, there has to be some taste and class left for our cities. When the natural surroundings and features are disturbed by blatant advertising, that’s…foul.
What is strange is that the Park District didn’t give any notice to Nike about the ads. Perhaps, our public places have become so inundated with corporate advertising that we don’t even realize when their corporate banners and decals have been approved or not.
Whether the ads are for the American Red Cross or GEICO Insurance, ads in public places need to be treated with high respect and taste for our urban grounds. There is too much of a slippery slope when ads are placed upon paved grounds.
Decal ads should be treated the same way that decal stickers are placed upon lamplight posts, subway turnstiles, or other public amenities.
With guerilla marketing way past the fifteen-minute mark and deep into the maintream, Deardorff makes a great point. “I started to imagine the awful possibilities–garish ads along the path, fences and the wall along Lake Shore Drive. After all, if one company is allowed to do it, why can’t every training program or 5-kilometer race paste down fliers?”
Here’s a plea for marketers and advertisers to respect public spaces. Yes, they’re too easy to use, and they’re unchartered waters. Yet, don’t poach.
In this case, the Lakefront path is one of the most esteemed urban-runs in America, there has to be a stronger way to promote a program. The natural landscape is a major part of people’s runs. Please respect.
Bad dog, no bone.
Preserve Our Public Places,