I was surfing around this morning and did a search for Omnicom's Cutwater agency (creators of the new RayBan commercials). I followed the link through to a nice story on AdWeek.
I hadn't checked out the AdWeek site for a while so I clicked through the home page and saw a surround ad campaign for Discovery Channel. The surround features three independent ads of different sizes all working together. This particular one was a clever play on the Discover Channel show Deadliest Catch where Alaskan fishermen risk their lives in the Bering Sea (yes I do watch this show, it's addictive).
What caught my eye, however, was the image the page was using as a background. I almost clicked away, then I said to myself, "Holy crap, they actually tiled the client logo as a background". This Web -2.0 tactic (yes, negative 2.0) is oh so very 1995. I know because I did it in 1995 when it was cool. Most importantly, it adds zero benefit to the campaign.
So anyway, here you have this (mostly) well thought out ad campaign in the right place for the audience and it's all thrown out the window with this ill-advised mistake. What would you say if you were Discovery and you saw this? Would you be impressed to see your logo tiled as a background or would you be upset that it looks completely amateur?
Now, I am not one to propose a problem without a solution so here are a couple options that the agency who created this could have proposed to add some real value to the campaign and still stay in the same parameters of the medium.
The series Deadliest Catch is all about the challenges of the sea. It follows a few fishing crews in Alaska and shows just how dangerous their job is. The sea (and the weather in general) is almost a character in their story. They fight storms and the sky is always ominous. So in a couple of minutes I went to iStockphoto and pulled an image of a threatening sky. Now imagine this image as the background. It sets the mood right?
Similary, I went to Discovery.com and visited the show's page there. A number of wallpaper files are available for download. So why not pick one of those images like you see below? They're accessible, dynamic, tied into the show and also set the mood.
If you were creating an ad for the print version of AdWeek would you tile your client's logo to take up the white space? Absolutely not! My point is, when you're creating online ad campaigns, ask yourself what you can do to make each implementation unique and help move through the clutter. How can you use the medium to convey the message and engage the audience for that brief exposure? Well thought out online ads go beyond the IAB standards and use the full inventory to tell one congruent story and, in the end, engage more potential customers.
I see shockingly few really good online campaigns. The medium is limitless so why are people still applying traditional thinking? Here is a litmus test. If you can send your online ads to a magazine and have them run as is, you need to SERIOUSLY re-think what you're doing online. Reach out, engage, tell a story and give people a reason to click.