In the men's locker room in my gym, a TV set high near the ceiling was playing an infomercial. But I was pretty sure this wasn't the audience the advertiser had in mind.
More typical programming for this venue -- say ESPN or CNN -- wasn't on the screen. There was no college basketball action, stock market results, "SportsCenter" highlights, global conflict, or "World Series of Poker" event.
Instead there was an infomercial selling a special bra for double DD size women -- the Genie Bra. The content went on and on because it wasn't a 30-second ad, it was a 30-minute one.
"It lifted and separated perfectly!," said one happy customer.
The mindset of the male contingent in the changing room seemed to collectively shrug its shoulders. Some peered up to the screen, then looked down, and continued their clothing transitions.
No TV remote was at hand to get this big media mistake back to its usual male-oriented state. This was TV in a weird place.
Years ago one TV researcher told me he had been exploring some station-by-station ratings, and noticed that "The Oprah Winfrey Show" seemed to have a lot of young kids 2-11 watching -- at least, according to Nielsen metrics.
The executive said this didn't make sense. The theory he came up with: in hand-written diary markets, mothers simply wrote down -- at the end of the week -- that they watched the show every day. Flawed number crunching then mistakenly factored in that young children were home and also watching.
For all of today's savvy new media buying and planning tools, marketers can still run into big problems reaching their target audiences.
Newly promised addressable advertising technology would take care of this -- at least in TV households. Out-of-home viewing seems a more difficult matter. Still, you can hope for a day when instead of a bra infomercial running in a men's locker room, it would be replaced with, say, a Hair Club for Men infomercial.
I'm sure there have been other glaring miscues -- say a "Call of Duty: Black Ops" video game commercial running in "Desperate Housewives" that got someone scratching her head.
In this growing digital and complex media world, I'm there are likely still a lot of double-takes. Some placement is actually intentional -- as with the Genie Bra infomercial recently pre-empting a local TV station newscast in Providence, R.I..
TV in weird places? Bra marketing mistakes can be good. Support, lift and separate them to an environment where they belong.