“The Entire Neighbourhood In Your Back Pocket” – A Yellow Pages Comeback Story

A week or two after I arrived in Toronto, I noticed that my closest TTC subway station was splattered with yellow overnight.

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Upon closer inspection, it turned out that Yellow Pages had completely taken over the station- every possible advertising spot and even places that probably weren’t intended for any media were splashed with yellow. As I go through this station every day, I’ve had countless opportunities to view and analyze the ads- normal people probably wouldn’t pay as much attention as a marketer such as myself, but I was just so captivated by the ads.

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I found the campaign to be quirky, engaging, relatable, and actually useful. It presented useful information about each station in a humorous, down-to-earth way that anyone could relate to, and the large media buy ensured that you wouldn’t miss it. For a newcomer like myself, it allowed me to get a better sense of the different neighbourhoods in the city, and brightened up a normally mundane task of waiting for my train.

It is no secret that Yellow Pages and phone books in general have become extinct in recent years. With online and mobile directories, search engine optimization, as well as consumer review websites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages has found itself decreasing in relevance to business owners and consumers alike. Why thumb through a heavy phone book when you can simply type in what you’re looking for and get instant results on your smartphone? And why spend money advertising in a place that no longer reaches your target audience?

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However, I think Yellow Pages is taking good measures to increase its relevancy in this day and age, and stay top-of-mind for customers. Yellow Pages is now highly digitized- with mobile apps ranging from its original purpose of finding and discovering businesses, to getting great deals on Canadian goods. It’s aim is to help Canadians find what they are looking for, quickly, and to help simplify their lives.

As for the campaign itself, I thought that it was well thought out, and overall nicely executed. They chose a great spot to advertise- at St. George station, which is a busy transfer hub and located right at the University of Toronto, which gets a lot of traffic from a young, tech-savvy crowd. They did place similar ads in other stations, but so far the biggest media buy I’ve seen has been at St. George where it just completely occupied the station, leaving no room for other companies to advertise, and capturing even the most passive of customers.

However, the ads urge TTC customers to download the app, and speaking from a personal point of view, I don’t know if this is the most helpful thing seeing as there is no reception down in the subway station and line, so incoming transit users may see the ad and then forget about it by the time they regain mobile reception and reach their destination. I personally did not feel compelled to download the app.

But on the positive side, the communication was very clear, and the ads make it evident that Yellow Pages is a helpful tool to guide you in your everyday life. It is really hard to ignore, and is relatable and attention-grabbing to the masses.

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I don’t know how much longer the ads will be up for (it has been a couple of weeks), but I really enjoy looking at them every time I pass by. I think this is a great example of a company that has faced challenges in an increasingly digital world, and is regaining its foothold and relevancy through digitizing its own product, presenting a clear value proposition, and devising clever marketing strategies.

Toronto is an advertising playground, and I love doing short analyses on different campaigns and discussing them with my peers. I hope to see more innovative campaigns like this during the summer!

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I couldn’t agree more.

Note: The only way I was able to get photos without hoards of people was to be there at 6AM. Sometimes there are upsides to being awake before the sun comes up 🙂

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Volkswagen Knocks It Out Of The Park With “Don’t Text And Drive” Ad

The first thing I do every morning while eating breakfast is scroll through my Twitter feed and catch up on all the marketing industry and world news that I’ve missed. And whenever there’s an ad that captures my attention, it makes me excited and I make a mental note to share it. This is one of them.

There’s an ad by Volkswagen and Ogilvy Beijing that’s been going around, in which the automobile manufacturer heeds the public to keep their eyes on the road and not use their mobile devices. Seems like an ordinary PSA, but VW takes a totally different spin on it at a movie theatre. Take a look at the footage:

This ad plays heavily on shock factor- but in a way that is highly reminiscent of a real life situation. You can see the people looking bored as the car just drives along, and the sudden impact captivates the audience in a way that will not be soon forgotten. Of course, this begs the question of how exactly the technology component of the ad worked in enabling the audience’s mobile devices- how exactly did they get the information needed? But questions aside, involving and engaging your audience without them even realizing it, while getting the shock factor just right- I’d go so far as to call it genius.

This is how you create an impactful message that will stick in a consumer’s mind. I hope more companies and agencies take this tactful approach to getting a message across, especially when it comes to public awareness and social issues.