Outside the Box

Posted on July 12, 2007


I’m pretty much typical in every way.  When I go to the doctor or fill out a driver’s license renewal form, I check all the boxes where they want you to say "yes," and can honestly answer "no" when that’s what they’re looking for.  Where I don’t fit in with my demographic (especially in Boston) in terms of the ways marketers are trying to reach me is this: I don’t ride the T (Boston’s subway).

This brings up an interesting point – a lot of mainstream marketers, like eBay and Bose, begin their campaigns with marketing blitzes on the subway platforms of major US cities.  T-riders eagerly fill you in on all the details of their horrendous commutes, so it’s really great word-of-mouth potential if you can do something eye-catching (or at least annoying enough to be talked about).

So, two things come to mind: (1) what is the best "underground" marketing campaign you’ve seen?  Leave comments if there’s something particularly interesting you’d like to share.  I feel a little left out.

(2) It was recently brought to my attention that the latest company to join the subway craze is eBay.  They’re splashing platforms around the country advertising the site: www.windorphins.com.  Now, I can’t say that I’ve seen the ads on the T (I’m going to have to start commuting), but I can say that I’ve heard about them through friends (good WOM), and that I spent some time checking out the Web site.  The general sentiment is this: what is windorphins?  I think the answer is: a crazy marketing stunt from eBay. 

eBay, we know how your site works — we don’t need gimmicks.  Yes, there are some slightly amusing portions of the windorphins Web page, but it falls short in most cases.  Specifically, it’s only one layer deep.  If you really want me to take the time to create a windorphin character and use it in conjunction with eBay, I need a better reason, and it should just take a few minutes to figure out what that is.  If you have people’s captive attention on the subway, why not tell them then? 

Point for eBay: the marketing campaign generated some buzz because T-riders were intrigued by the name, but all the feedback I’ve heard from other GenXYZers is: "it was just an advertisement for eBay?!  What a waste of time."  Agreed.  Nice try, eBay.

Looking forward to hearing about better subway campaigns…

Windorphins T ads: 2/5 stars  

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