Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Tip No.70 - How To Do Ambient

Here's my Top Five tips. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. Avoid stuff that's been done. True of any medium, of course. But with Ambient - when you have the whole world for your canvas - it would be a shame to do an ad in washrooms, on coins, or on escalators... when these have already been used so many times.

2. Don't expect it to actually happen. You need an anti-rejection suit to survive in this business at the best of times. But with Ambient ideas, the attrition rate is even higher than for other media. TV spots are booked. Press schedules are booked. No one ever 'booked' an Ambient ad, therefore it doesn't need to happen... the Traffic people don't have to push for it to happen, and the Client doesn't have to sign off on anything they don't absolutely love. So manage your expectations accordingly.

3. Make the location fit the idea. An ad is not more exciting just because it's on a crane or a toilet. It's exciting if it's relevant.

4. How to judge them. My criterion is very simple - 'Would It Get In The Metro?' (London's free morning newspaper). Every morning, they run a couple of funny or weird pictures, and quite often these are advertising stunts. This is free PR for the brand, and gets seen by many more people than see the physical Ambient piece itself. If you think your idea is funny or weird enough to get in the Metro, draw it up. Otherwise, don't.

5. Do it yourself. As I already said in Point 2, Ambient ideas almost never happen. So why not do it yourself? You only need one location. You can often use cheap materials, and take the photo yourself. Then if nothing else, you'll have a nice piece for your book.

Previous Tips

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's going on in Soho Scamp? There's bits of jeans stuck all over the pavements and a lamp post in Lexington Street and on Wardour Street there's a slim side of a building covered with pairs of jeans with clear branding from a well known client of BBH's?
Is all this blog ambience tying up with a nice little BBH ambient campaign by any chance?

Anonymous said...

How London-centric of you Scamp. The Metro is the free morning paper of nearly every major city in the country.

Anonymous said...

This ambient week's a bit dry - can't we just read 'Advertising is Dead, Long Live Advertising' and be done with it?

Now great media neutral, 360, through-around-and-over-the-back-of-line week... that would be sweeeet.

Scamp said...

2.35 - nothing to do with Soho lamp-posts.

4.09 - (first one) I know that. But the Ambient pics are normally local. You do something in London, it gets in the London Metro, but not the Manchester one. Or am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and 4.09: who gives a shit about non-London advertising?

What was the last non-London UK ad that won a pencil?

Anonymous said...

This whole ambient week thing is deadly boring. We're in the middle of a digital revolution and you're banging on about ambient, how very 1980's of you scamp.


Ambient has it's place but it's hardly the hot topic of today. Why not focus on the future of advertising? It really doesn't pay to stuck in your above the line ways. Media neutral is where it's at.

Scamp said...

You make a fair point, albeit in rather a rude manner.

I did address this when I introduced Ambient Week a few days ago. I wrote: "Ambient used to be all the rage. At one time, it was the world's sexiest medium... before the rise of Digital. But is it still relevant today?"

I guess your answer would be "no".

Bitchbag said...

Ambient advertising is still relevant (IMO). Ok, so we are in a digital revolution and we have ‘apparently’ seen everything, but when you need a powerful direct message, Ambient wins. The reason I feel is because most of the time, the message is in context with the positioning, to give the extra punch. For example…

http://www.culture-buzz.fr/IMG/jpg/wwf.jpg

Anonymouse said...

when my cd says 'ambient' it is always with the mock excitable gasp of a student. i think that means he doesn't approve of us spending agency time and materials on it. love the lucas/dorrian 'guerrilla advertising' book though.

Anonymous said...

Re 5.15

How about you share some of your cool banners that are setting the digital world on fire...

Anonymous said...

Mother are brilliant at ambient. They did the Britart campaign a few years ago with stickers on railings and pavements. Now they're advertising Diet Coke using a gigantic turd.

Simon (not Veksner) said...

5.15, you seem to be somewhat one dimensional. Digital is not really new is it? But in your view we shouldn't talk about other ways of getting our messages across?
I think Ambient, and good use of outdoor in general, is absolutely where we should be looking. People may be watching less tv, they may be reading less print, they may well be blocking out most of the crap online, but until they stop going outside, i'd still kill for some great ambient ideas that stop people in their tracks. Or has London become so painful that no one leaves the house?

Anonymous said...

Digital's fucked now as far as I can tell. Apparantly there's an even newer media that's going to kick digital into a cocked hat. It will really cock a snook at digital. Gas advertising. It's the latest thing. Look out for a new gas ad for a new brand of crispbreads next week. And prepare your banner ads cocks to be snooked.

Anonymous said...

Number 7.
Never state the bleedingly obvious

that french saying said...

"Oh, and 4.09: who gives a shit about non-London advertising?

What was the last non-London UK ad that won a pencil?"

Seriously? Get out of London and open your mind, you might do better work. Or just be a nicer person.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scamp,

5:15 here, all advertising is relevant if it can get noticed and change someone's behavior or opinion.
So in that respect ambient is relevant. But ambient has changed, I get the feeling that you're treating ambient in the old sense without considering how digital has affected the medium. See http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/652440/Outdoor---Outdoor-goes-digital/

and skip to the BMW X3. An ambient piece but with digital at it's heart.

And as for 7:51 I'm guessing you're mentioning banners as you see them as the lowest common denominator in the digital world. How sad. Maybe you should read the above article and start embracing digital.

As a side point have you noticed that the majority of people being laid off in above the line agencies are the ones who are not embracing the digital world. The landscape is changing and if you're not willing to change with it then more fool you.

Anonymous said...

What's up with you my fellow Scamp readers? No work to slag off and we can only muster a handful or comments.

Anonymous said...

5.15

The BMW X3 campaign sounds great. I love a good driving game. But is it really digital in the sense most people understand digital? i.e., utilising online media?

To me it reads more like a combination of posters and an experiential novelty. Good fun, but not something that's exactly changing the landscape.

Sorry, can't see where your 'brave new digital world' thinking is in this at all.

Bodecker said...

Years ago I made a spoof portfolio that I would have a laugh with every now and then. I'd show the folio to creatives who I heard were really up their own backsides.

One of the campaigns in the folio was an ambient campaign to advertise light bulbs. There were pictures of lightbulbs in weird places all over London.
When I'd meet the creative teams I'd say it was my ambient-ambient lighting campaign.

Anonymous said...

Digital is getting a press ad and making it long and thin and either up and downy or side to sidey. You know...so it fits on a computer screen. It's the future. Anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

utilising online media isn't digital, digital is everywhere, including outdoors, I take it you've heard of bluetooth, QR codes etc......

Anonymous said...

"I take it you've heard of bluetooth, QR codes etc......"

I have. I'm just questioning what makes something that's been a staple of every motor show for the last twenty years 'digital'.

It's not a new way of experiencing something (like bluetooth is - relatively). And it's not something I need to have my pre-digital brain rewired to understand.

Maybe you just picked a poor example to point up the difference.

Rocker Man said...

For pity's sake. Mr Scamp has already set out the ground rules. This is Ambient week. Nothing to say about Ambient except you think it's sooo last year / decade / century? And that all we should be talking and thinking about is Digital??

Listen up numbskulls. No new media ever killed the one that preceded it. TV didn't kill radio. Radio didn't kill newspapers. Digital won't kill any of the above. Change? Yes - certainly. But Ambient (or radio, tv or press etc) has a role to play in 2009. And Scamp has chosen to give the subject a week's exposure. Let it be.

Embrace Digital all you like. And we should. But don't start saying it's the end of everything else. It isn't.

And as for the person who said we're watching less television.....actually we (although maybe not you) are watching more. Check the figures.