Cutting Through Advertising Clutter


"We have to screen it out because we simply can't absorb that much information. We can't process that much data," he said, "and so no surprise, consumers are reacting negatively to the kind of marketing blitz; the kind of super saturation of advertising that they're exposed to on a daily basis."

The conundrum for modern day marketers is how to cut through the clutter without alienating the consumer.

"All of this marketing saturation that's going on is creating this kind of arms race between marketers where they have to up the ante the next time out because their competitors have upped the ante the last time they were out," Walker-Smith said. "And the only way you can win is to have more saturation -- be more creative; be more outrageous."

One company called Submedia has literally gone underground to find its audience. Submedia places ads in tunnels in subway and metro systems around the world. Using technology borrowed from that old fashioned toy called a zoetrope, Submedia creates ads that come to life with the movement of the train.

"With us its one ad in the tunnel," Peter Corrigan, the CEO of Submedia, said. "Everyone on that train gets to see that ad. So we're not competing with other forms of advertising in that space. So that's how we manage to cut through the clutter. You're riding the train and all of a sudden …Pop! This pops out at you."

Corrigan also said that ads need to be entertaining to be effective, an idea echoed by analysts and even regular people who are advertising's targets. Ads work because they entertain: engaging their audience without a full frontal assault.

"It's a very creative concept and advertisers like to reach the consumer in a way that doesn't feel like an ad," Corrigan said. "And that's what we are doing."

According to Mandese, engaging the audience with the product is "the mantra. That is the Holy Grail."

Other attempts to crack the market involve novelties: CBS is promoting its fall programming on eggs -- 35 million of them to be exact. Another company called Wizmark is breaking the bathroom barrier. It sells ad space in urinals.

"Everybody will remember the ad they see in a Wizmark," Richard Deutch, CEO of Wizmark said. "Advertising in the bathroom provides the quintessential captive audience. You can't look left. You can't look right. You have to look at the ad and listen to it."

Some might ask, "Have we gone too far? Where does it end if our breakfasts and our bathrooms are now ad space for sale?" Companies are appearing increasingly desperate to make their mark anywhere.

But ad analysts say consumers have control of more than just the Tivo remote ads do have the power to sell, but not if they turn people off.

"Ultimately, the consumer is the judge," Mandese said, "if the marketer that's using eggs this season doesn't have a great record with eggs chances are they won't be using eggs gain, okay?"

"We need advertising," Walker-Smith said. "We want advertising and we like advertising. Consumers don't hate advertising. What they hate is bad advertising. So I think the challenge that's facing the industry nowadays is how to quit doing all the bad stuff that creates the kind of environment people are resisting and figure out ways to engage people in ways that they find to be informative and entertaining. And that's become our challenge in this super saturated world."