Sunday, October 28, 2007

Look! Up in the Sky!

On a warm Friday evening earlier this month, Allstream took an unusual approach to marketing its small business solutions: it flew a UFO over downtown Toronto.

From a distance, the helicopter that towed the huge red Allstream banner was almost invisible, so the ad – which was only intelligible on one side – seemed to be free-floating. My two passengers and I in a car headed downtown took some time to figure out that it wasn't an alien invasion, but merely an ad. Then it took a while longer to realize what the message was.

The big red banner got a lot of attention – but was it the right attention? Does the hard-working target market mill around downtown with time to decipher a hard-to-read mystery ad hovering 2,000 feet up? And even if they do, does a sign that basically promotes your brand name do anything to turn prospects into customers?

I doubt it. I don't think this type of ad shows much respect for the needs of its marketplace.

While I’m generally in favor of marketing innovations, I think this one sends the wrong message. If Allstream (the former AT&T Canada, now owned by Manitoba Telecom) thinks its branding in Toronto is so weak that it needs this kind of aerial extravaganza to sell bundled telecom services, what has it been doing for the past four years?
To learn more about Allstream's small business services, click here.

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