I can’t get Christian Slater’s face out of head. I close my eyes and try to envision something pleasant, clouds or a mountainous landscape. But no, it’s Christian Slater. It’s not my fault either. Other than that movie about stealth bombers that crashed in the desert, Broken Arrow, I can’t name a single flick he was in. It’s the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority’s fault. They’re the ones that let his mug be plastered, in twenty times larger than life proportions, on the side of every other bus in town. It’s worse than having something shoved down your throat. It’s Christian Slater laser embedded into your brain.
Sure, it’s effective marketing but, for me, it’s only effective in the sense it’s making me dislike whatever Slater’s working on, in this case a TV series called “My Own Worst Enemy.” Which begs the question: Is it worth the risk of introducing a brand with such force that it alienates, infuriates or annoys a certain market demographic in the process? Does it matter if that same market demographic wouldn’t like you brand anyway, no matter what you did? I’m talking about the people who wouldn’t watch “My Own Worse Enemy” unless there was a gun to their head. Is it OK to disregard them and aspire towards the larger prize?
Apparently so. Here’s how CBS Media, the company responsible for bus and subway ads in L.A. and dozens of other markets, rationalize their “moving billboards”:
Impact 90% of a city’s most densely populated areas with exterior bus advertising, the ultimate mass-reach media.
Buses go where people go – where they live, shop, work and play. The strength of the bus as an advertising medium is its constant ability to find a crowd. Buses “mingle with consumers,” and follow the flow of shoppers and their spending power – speaking, showing and selling along the way.
To a degree most brands are force-fed. They follow the logic that there is no such thing as bad press, or negative exposure. The more your brand is seen the larger it’s potential impact.
But what about consumer rights? Frankly I’m over-saturated by advertisements and feel the problem will only get worse before it gets better. The burden lies with our elected officials to keep marketers in check and it’s time for them to start making some tasteful decisions. At the moment Slater is His Own Worst Enemy, if his five-foot face continues to visually assault me he’ll become my worst enemy as well.