the smart hanger

Innovative advertising spaces

"Advertising, as you know it, is dead," wrote Sergio Zyman, a former Coca-Cola executive in his book The End of Advertising As We Know It. ((page 1, published in 2002)) Most people switch their brains off when bombarded with useless ads that do not give anything valuable to them. Well, at least I do, especially when I receive endless direct mailing letters and leaflets that clog up my mailbox every day (See my post Winnie the Pooh and Responsible Marketing).

But sometimes, advertising can be innovative, not only in terms of content, but also where it appears. Here's a list of innovative advertising spaces and mediums that I have put together for you:

Eco-friendly paper hangers

hangers facingThe Smart Hanger, an eco-friendly startup from Canada that I featured in a Funky Brand Interview back in August, provides an innovative space for advertisers who display their messages on hangers made from recycled paper. Those who view the ads, actually perceive them in a positive way, since the Hanger helps solve a problem of landfill waste.

Rental bikes

Villo bike in Brussels

This is a photo of a Villo city rental bike in Brussels, featuring an ad by a hosiery manufacturer, DIM.  I think DIM did a pretty good job here selecting the bike as an advertising medium to promote their stockings. I can imagine many female bikers would hesitate to rent a bike in the fear of ruining their stockings, and DIM proposes to solve that issue. (The fact that scarce biking paths in Brussels make this city ill-adapted for this activity is more important than stockings, but this is a whole different issue).

404 error pages on web sites

Murphy's beer (a brand that belongs to the Heineken group) ran a Murphy's Law (( Murphy's law is, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."))  ad campain by placing ads on 404 error pages of the Dutch portal Planet Internet back in 2000. I think that the ad space itself is rather innovative, though I doubt this kind of a campaign would trigger a lot of associations between the beer and Murphy's law, even when somebody lands on a "wrong" page.

Human body

Image source: Inventorspot.com

I am listing this "medium" here as it's quite unusual,  but it's also pretty controversial. In fact, several companies have made attempts to link advertisers with those people who're willing to tattoo ads on their body. However, it seems that these companies didn't live too long. For instance, Body Billboardz, a social network of people willing to tattoo ads, doesn't seem to exist any more. Something called Handvertising USA probably went bust as well.

I can imagine that there would be many volunteers willing to provide "ad space" on their bodies, but the other side of the market -- advertisers -- probably wouldn't want to risk their reputation by "placing" tattoo ads on people.

Body art is a whole different matter, and body painting has been used by advertisers to create artistic effects as the one on the left. Remember that Paris Hilton wore nothing but a thick layer of golden paint to launch Prosecco Rich?

If you have more examples of innovative ad spaces, please comment! :)

See another example in this post.

NOTES

And the winner is....

The Funky Startup Contest has come to an end. Thanks to all of those funky startups that have responded and participated!

Why we organized the Funky Startup Contest

What was the reason for this contest?  SCHMOOZY FOX launched the Funky Brand Interview series in the summer of 2009. Since then, I've been meeting talented and passionate people -- CEOs, founders and top managers -- whose enthusiasm, love of fun and understanding of brand strategy translated into building successful funky brands.  After a year of great encounters,  I wanted to give a chance to less known, funky-to-be startups, to feature in interviews, and benefit from valuable brand strategy advice by SCHMOOZY FOX. Hence the Funky Startup Contest!

Semi-finalists

Three companies -- Crashpadder (online bookings of short stays from the UK), The Smart Hanger (eco-friendly paper hangers from Canada) and Zigfreda (luxuriously funky clothes founded by a Brazilian-Dutch couple) were selected, and interviewed for the SCHMOOZY FOX blog about funky brands.

The winner

Hans and Katia - founders of Zigfreda

And the winner is.... Zigfreda! After Hans and Katia from Zigfreda are done launching their Spring-Summer 2011 collection in Milan and Paris, they will receive a promised day of brand coaching from SCHMOOZY FOX, the funky way!

When Hans Blankenburgh from Zigfreda learned about the victory, he said,

"SCHMOOZY FOX is a great point of reference for innovative, cool, upcoming trends, technology, brand strategy and funky brands. We are already impressed with Olga's knowledge and passion for brand strategy, and we're happy to be the winner!

Stay tuned for the updates about the funky brand strategy day at Zigfreda!

And I wish Crashpadder and The Smart Hanger a lot of success in building their funky brands!

POLL: Vote for the funkiest startup brand

The summer is over, and our summer funky startup contest has come to an end. SCHMOOZY FOX has selected, and interviewed three exciting startups:

1) Crashpadder, an online community that helps find cheap short-term accommodation 2) The Smart Hanger, eco-friendly paper hangers from Toronto 3) Zigfreda, a colorful luxury wear brand

We think that all of them are on the path of building funky brands.

Which one do YOU think should benefit from our free brand coaching?

Click on the links above, read the interviews and M A K E  Y O U R  C H O I C E for the FUNKIEST STARTUP BRAND! Select your choice form the list below, and hit the VOTE button. The voting will be closed on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10 pm Brussels time (GMT +1). And please keep this in mind: there will be only ONE vote allowed per IP address.

The voting is closed, and results will be announced shortly.

The Smart Hanger -- hooked on the environment

Jacob hates metal hangers Today, we're happy to announce the second semi-finalist of our summer contest for funky start-up brands, The Smart Hanger. When Leigh Meadows, founder of The Smart Hanger, decided to take a little break from work two years ago in order to dedicate some time to her personal projects, little did she know that she’d soon have a new business to run. As Leigh said in an interview to SCHMOOZY FOX, the idea of The Smart Hanger, a Toronto based company was born out of a to do list that was supposed to include only her personal projects. Since then, this simple and yet original project received a lot of press coverage, and featured in the popular program The Dragon’s Den.

Today Leigh tells us why The Smart Hanger can be called a funky brand.

SCHMOOZY FOX: Leigh, tell me how you ended up starting The Smart Hanger when you actually wanted to take some time off work?

Leigh Meadows: Indeed, two years ago, in August, I made a decision to spend a bit of time concentrating on my hobbies and personal projects. I felt that I was facing something new in my life, and decided to put together a little to do list of everything that I wanted to achieve during the planned me time. I actually always put such lists of priorities each time that I face changes in my life, so it was a usual thing for me to do.

That time, my desire to do something good for the environment was on top of my list. But this wish was quite general. I wanted to do something very concrete, and yet could not think what exactly this could be.

One afternoon, my son Jacob and I were rearranging his closet to prepare the boy for the new school year. Towards the end of our cleaning session, we collected a pile of wire hangers lying in his room, ready to be thrown away. “But this is so bad for the environment!” my little son said. “Why don’t they make these hangers out of paper?”

Though I thought it was a great commend, I didn’t dwell on it too much at the time. But then, I found myself lying fully awake one night a couple of weeks later, thinking about what he had said. That’s how the idea of The Smart Hanger was born.

SCHMOOZY FOX: What is The Smart Hanger all about?

Leigh Meadows: The idea that I had was to replace wire hangers that go to landfill and generate so much waste, by recyclable paper hangers. As simple as that!

SCHMOOZY FOX: You quickly progressed from the idea of just making paper hangers, to turning them into an advertising platform for brands.

Leigh Meadows: This was a logical step that was born out of the necessity to cover the costs of producing these hangers in Canada. I could have outsourced manufacturing to lower cost countries, but producing the hangers in Canada simply made more sense from the environmental perspective. As this was quite expensive, it was decided to give advertising space on hangers to brands.

SCHMOOZY FOX: Two years on, and you have many brands interested in advertising through The Smart Hanger, and a dedicated force of sales people. How did you go about setting up a business and getting it to work?

hangers facing

Leigh Meadows: What was most important for me at the very beginning, was to get the product right for my main customers, drycleaners. They are the ones who are the biggest users of wire hangers that most of their customers simply throw away. And so, they are big contributors to landfill waste. I actually received a lot of help from the drycleaner in my neighborhood, who greatly helped me understand the market. I then met with many other drycleaners studying their needs in terms of shape and durability of the hanger. It was actually not very easy to make a perfect prototype, and the process was very scientific!

SCHMOOZY FOX: Did you have any insights into the needs of end users of The Smart Hanger?

Leigh Meadows: The role of the end consumer became of great importance when we decided to invite advertisers. I wasn’t sure how people would take the fact that they would see ads on the hangers when they picked up their clothes from drycleaners’. But they took it quite well, especially since they knew that The Smart Hanger was solving an environmental problem of landfill waste.

SCHMOOZY FOX: As an end consumer, where would I get my Smart Hangers now?

Leigh Meadows: First of all, we’re currently only present on the Canadian market, although there are immediate plans to start distribution in the US and as a next step, in Europe. You’d mostly see them at your local drycleaners’, but soon you’ll also see them in department stores, and fashion stores that sell eco fashion. You will actually soon be able to buy packs of Smart Hangers as a finished product in itself.  We’ve signed a deal with a big licensing company in Canada, and you’ll get your paper hangers embellished with Dora and other movie and cartoon characters.

SCHMOOZY FOX: A paper hanger is a superb idea, but it seems relatively easy to copy. What in your opinion can be done to be able to stay competitive?

Leigh Meadows: I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, so I actually think that competition is good! If there is competition, I treat is as a very Hanger leigh small sizegood sign! But really, first of all these hangers were not that easy to make, and we have a design patent on them. Then we have a first mover advantage, and signed exclusivity agreements with many brands and advertising agencies for several years to come. Finally, as soon as we begin being profitable, I’ll make sure to invest the right amounts of cash into brand building activities for The Smart Hanger.

SCHMOOZY FOX: why do you think The Smart Hanger is a funky brand?

Leigh Meadows: What makes it funky is the fact that nobody has up till now challenged the idea of boring wire hangers that pollute the environment. The Smart Hanger is revolutionary in its simplicity and its effectiveness, and these are no doubt qualities of a funky brand!