It takes a lot to make things new, especially in advertising. The world has never been more saturated with marketing logos, messages, images and branding. They're on the mug that holds your morning coffee, the radio in your car, the walls of your train car and even in the pages of the restaurant menu at lunch.
As Americans become desensitized to traditional media, marketers are finding new places to capture their attention. The new frontiers of advertising are as varied as the old--from ad panels on employee uniforms to laminates on airplane tray tables--which means there are opportunities for both small startups and national brands.
Here are five of the newest places to pitch your brand, service or product.
1. Tray tables in the sky
Imagine having hours of a consumer's rapt attention. It's just your ad and their eyes; they can't leave, and they can't use their phone. They can use their computer, but that will likely bring their eyes right back to your ad.
Advertising has finally hit airplanes in a more in-your-face way than the in-flight TV programming or magazine. New York-based Brand Connections SkyMedia has already lined up contracts with America West and US Airways to put laminated ads on airline tray tables.
"This is the anti-clutter," Brian Martin, CEO of Brand Connections, says. "It's purely captive." He says the ad space is ideal for brands with high-ticket items.
2. Employee uniforms (not your own)
Bartenders can hold a lot of sway over what people choose to drink. A talented mixologist at a trendy club suggesting an açaí berry liqueur is a powerful way to get consumers to drink acai cocktails. So imagine if the bartender's shirt bore a giant, color-rich, graphic panel advertisement of a particular liquor or mixer.
That's the marketing concept behind Los Angeles-based Eye Level Marketing. The company is pitching the interchangeable shirt panels to theme parks, stadiums, shopping centers and retail stores.
3. Golf cart hubcaps
Golf club and golf clothing makers have long had the monopoly on golf course branding. Tournaments have offered opportunities for corporate exposure, but often the visibility for hole sponsors is minimal at best.
Enter Static Media Group and its non-rotating golf cart hubcaps. The Woodstock, Georgia-based firm launched the concept in Atlanta in November.
"It's going very well," says Neil Johnson, director of sales. The company is expecting to launch in six markets, from Southern California to Tampa Bay, within the next three months, Johnson adds. The concept is appropriate for any company targeting high-end consumers, from beverage companies to mortgage lenders.
An executive playing at a recent golf tournament told Johnson, "You know, I can't tell you who a single hole sponsor was, but I can tell you who was riding along on the wheels."
4. On your shirttails
Most companies have ponied up for T-shirts that feature their name and logo, whether for employees to wear at promotional events or as handouts to customers.
But aside from a company's name, the shirts don't offer much additional information. Montoloking, N.J.-based Telme Clothing, however, has been helping companies get a more personal message across to customers.
The company sells customized tees bearing the traditional full-front or left-chest logo, but it adds an unexpected twist on the inside back bottom of the shirt. There, a company can include several paragraphs of its mission statement or all of its contact information.
Owner and President Kevin Shane says Telme's main market is in promotional shirts for companies, and they're a hit with smaller firms. "We don't have minimums," Shane says. "We don't like to turn any business away."
5. Around town
Keep an eye out for advertising opportunities on the municipal vehicles, city-owned buildings or recycling bins in your area. More municipalities are considering ways to boost revenue without hitting up taxpayers and are seeing advertising opportunities on local infrastructure.
Allentown, Pennsylvania, for example, is exploring ways to raise revenue by selling municipal marketing space. And the police cars in Toledo, Ohio, will soon host the logos and phone numbers of sponsors. The ad sponsorships are the city council's solution to a deteriorating fleet.