I spend a lot of time on the subway. By 9am, I've usually been on four different conveyances from Queens to Manhattan and back, and in the afternoon I repeat the process. (Why? Because NYC has a crazy system of public school placement and a dizzyingly wide range of options. But that's another post.) I spend a lot of time reading ads and considering exactly who the brand is trying to reach. Often I wonder if the copywriters and account managers, not to mention the brand team, think deeply about the alienating factor, about how the wrong ad, or even the right ad in the wrong placement, can cast a negative light on their product. For example, Seamless.com currently has an ad suggesting that staying in on date night and using their app to order take-out will help you get to third base faster.
My five-year-old can read. My five-year-old asks a lot of questions. The day when he asks me how you can get to third base while staying at home is imminent. Minus one point for Seamless.
But a brand that gets points? Cole Haan. Their current campaign, Don't Stay Home, encourages New Yorkers to go out and enjoy all that the city has to offer, which is entirely relevant to a captive subway audience. Copy such as "You didn't move to NYC to stay home" and "Go with the version you won't tell your grandkids" urges people to seize the day and casts a positive light on the brand.
After a particularly delighful conversation about a very exciting opportunity a couple of weeks ago, I stepped on to the subway to find this Cole Haan ad.
This kind of good messaging speaks to ambition and secret happiness in a lighthearted yet thoughtful way, leaving you with a feeling similar to getting just the right fortune in your cookie. It's fun and meaningful, yet not too deep for the subway.
"Be more interesting tomorrow than you are today."
I'm working on it.