MetroCards Offer Chance To Reach Media Buyers
Pretty soon, cable networks will cover seemingly every phone kiosk, billboard and taxi top in Manhattan looking to appeal to media buyers as the upfront market looms. Walk through Midtown and plugs for the likes of Oxygen, AMC and History (and their shows) will be unavoidable.
Even as ratings rise, cable networks seem to still harbor some of the scrappy, underdog ethic vis-à-vis the broadcast networks. Of course, there are dozens of them, so they may always have some work hard in going against one another.
The broadcast networks, for their part, tend to pass on the rite of spring that is the Big Apple Blanket, perhaps thinking the money will flow their way anyway or their on-air promos do the trick.
This year, there looks to be some previously untapped real estate for the cablers on NYC MetroCards. Advertisers have used the new Subway tokens before, but last fall the Gap became what’s believed to be the first marketer ever to place advertising on the front. The retailer ran a “Be Bright NYC” tagline on a blue background there, with a plug for a discount on the back.
The cost seems highly reasonable. The Gap’s contract with New York City Transit called for a payment of $350,000 to place the ad on 1 million MetroCards. (An Omnicom agency worked with the retailer.)
With their spring ads, even when networks principally seek to reach media buyers, they also want to appeal to viewers to get more bang for their buck. Creative opportunities would seem to be ripe with the Subway as inspiration.
The Gap had a blockbuster cooked up in “Mind the Gap” – playing off the famed warning all over London’s Underground – but the transit authority felt it offered negative implications around safety and nixed it, a Gap executive said last year.
Still, suppose Fox indeed decided to spend the money backing a Gordon Ramsay series with: “Hell’s Kitchen: Tuesdays On Fox, Take the E Train There Now.” Or, NBC plugged one of its reality shows with: “Fashion Star: Find One On NBC, Be One On Fifth Avenue.”
With its “Characters Welcome” tagline, USA network has material to mine with the millions who ride the Subways. The Ovation network has an easy link with Broadway. The Weather Channel can offer a Subway forecast (“Crowded At Rush Hour: Guaranteed”).
The type of out-of-home campaigns coming from cable networks soon often are strategically placed near media agencies. The Gap employed a similar strategic approach with the stations where its MetroCards were distributed, choosing some near its 34th Street store.