Ad Mediums a Real Gas Attack
By Jim Bray
A marketing wind blowing
out of Eastern Canada could prove even more annoying than sky high gasoline
prices and taxes.
Its an Ontario
companys plan to make your neighborhood gas pumps tax your patience
while it empties your wallet.
Timeline Media Corporation
is currently test marketing a sensory assault thatll result in beleaguered
consumers being bombarded with commercials during their periodic pilgrimages
to their preferred purveyors of petroleum products.
Talk about a gas attack!
The concept is simple:
they mount a TV and a speaker on top of the gas pump and use them to shove
15 to 60 second commercials and five minute infomercials
down our collective throats.
isnt merely a crass attempt to cash in on the good nature of North
American consumers. Not at all; TimeLine Media says it also offers local
and national news, promotional coupons, and even questions of the
So I guess if nothing
else, theyll be giving you the opportunity to yell back as the gas
pump is yelling at you...
TimeLine claims its
scheme er, program offers advertisers access to the untold
millions of people who take out second mortgages each day in order to
gas up their wheels. They further claim that advertisers who use their
service can also take advantage of a wide variety of marketing tools,
including the number and profile of the people receiving their pitches.
Which means that,
as old Betsys getting gassed up, the advertisers are getting pumped
up with demographic information about little ol you.
Big Brother is watching us, even as we nestle that nozzle into our Nissans!
TimeLine says the
benefit to advertisers is that they can target the captive gas station
consumer audience. No kidding! Timeline is giving advertisers the ability
to shoot fish in a barrel!
The other side of
the coin, according to the company, is that finally! consumers
can have some fun at the pumps.
This, of course, depends
on your definition of fun. I can think of many things that
are more fun that being virtually accosted by a gas pump,
even though Im usually a sucker for new technological trends.
Still, the company
says its polling shows that people whove used the so-called service
are overwhelmingly in favor of it. They apparently find the interactive
screen attractive, and with a good picture quality and most said
theyll probably watch the stuff again.
As if they have any
choice if they want to continue frequenting that particular gas bar!
I havent actually
seen one of these setups yet, so maybe it isnt fair to judge
but I understand the concept well enough to feel that, if push comes to
shove, Ill be the first one to bypass TimeLine-afflicted pumps and
get my petroleum fix elsewhere.
Gassing up is one
of the few occasions left in this modern world of ours where you can escape
todays sensory overload. The neighborhood gasoline island is an
oasis of relative tranquility assuming you can shut out the traffic
sounds and the smells and I do some of my best thinking at the
gas pumps (and in that little room off my bedroom).
I dont know
about you, but Im exposed to more than enough advertising already
and Id rather be cold, wet, and lonely and a free person
than have one more noisy ad barrage raining down on me from above.
Now, I would never
infringe on TimeLines right to market a product, and I grudgingly
wish them success. I, however, will be taking full advantage of my free
market ability to shop elsewhere.
Unless, of course,
TimeLines users want to buy back my affections by reducing their
gas prices enough to make the ad bombardment easier to justify.
Im willing to
bet, however, that that isnt considered part of the equation.
Then again, maybe
future families will enjoy huddling around the gas pump much as my parents
generation gathered around the radio and my generation gathers around
the TV. Maybe going to the neighborhood gas island will become a whole
new social event, where you can meet friends, gas up, feed, and get caught
up with the news headlines, all at the same time.
Maybe the old line
Come with me to the casbah will be replaced by Come
with me to the gasbar.
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.