For Sale

Took a trip to Glasgow and came across a new advertising campaign, one I felt deserved a wider audience. As far as I know, it marks the first significant use of a brand new urban media space.

And when I say brand new urban media space, I mean the bit of wall above the Bank of Scotland cash machine, right opposite the Radisson Blu hotel – mere seconds from the railway station.

Some young, go-ahead guerrilla marketing whizz has identified the opportunity and surmounted the silvery ATM with the hand-written headline ‘Dougie’s sister loves sex’.

Genius.

I can imagine the agency pitch now. ‘Individually-targeted point of sale at purchase ground zero. One-on-one marketing in a commercially-orientated environment. Ground-breaking use of narrowcast media to a specific audience predefined to be consumer-activity-primed in the retail theatre at large. Going forward.’

But the ad-savvy among you will have noticed that one vital part of the campaign was missing: the call-to-action. The thing that says ‘visit this website’ or ‘call this number’ or ‘fill in and return this coupon (no stamp needed)’.

So it made perfect sense to me, as I glanced around, that this campaign had pushed the envelope still further and the young woman behind me was, in point of fact, Dougie’s sister herself.

It seemed to be the ultimate breaking down of the gap between product advertising and consumption of said product. Like placing a stack of glasses next to the cheap vodka in Lidl. Or a stack of buckets next to the cider.

So I approached Dougie’s sister for an informal chat with a view to interesting the mung-bean munchers who man (or wo-man) the Guardian’s Media section in this revolutionary new technique.

When I came back from the hospital – sadder, wiser and a little bit achy all down one side – I couldn’t help thinking that some extra work would have been nice to make the campaign clearer.

Maybe Dougie’s sister – the real one – could have some sort of signal making it obvious that a purchase could be made. A barcode tattooed on the upper thigh. A credit card reader dangling provocatively from the wrist. A sticker offering discounts for ‘5 minutes or less’. A pair of earrings with the Nectar card logo. A sign saying ‘Now Open’.

I left the city making a mental note to keep an eye on Dougie’s sister’s progress in business.

After all, Big Jessie and Big Tam are already aggressively promoting their services in this highly-crowded marketplace. If the graffiti in the McDonald’s toilet on Sauchiehall Street are to be believed.

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