Unusual marketing ideas – Using bus stops to appeal to a captive audience – part one

Photo by Matheus Bardemaker on Unsplash

This week we continue with our occasional look at innovative retail pop-ups and unusual marketing ideas from around the world; looking at two different ways that bus stops have been used recently to promote ideas or events.

First of all, we’re heading to Chile where many of the bus stops in the city of Rancagua have been turned into authentic-looking football goals, complete with painted astro turf, nets and solid goal posts. The move is in honour of the 2015 Copa América, a football tournament that brings all of the goal-oriented South American countries together over the summer, for a month-long football competition. The aim of the goals is to promote the event and imbue some excitement and anticipation in both locals and visitors alike, by adding to the frisson of sporting action, which already hangs in the air.

Of course advertising citywide like this is not a new idea, but these bus stops demonstrate an innovative way to engage both the city dwellers and tourists who may have travelled to the city for the event. The idea is much more effective than a simple poster as it creates a talking point and something out of the ordinary for people going about their daily lives.

This campaign brings to mind a similar marketing scheme implemented by Foxtel in Adelaide, Australia who used bus shelters to promote the English Premier League – which is growing in popularity down under. Their bus stops contained buttons which emitted the smells of freshly cut grass and the sound of a cheering crowd (thank goodness it wasn’t the other way around). Foxtels inspiration for the idea was the premise that in football, the energy and experience of the live match is very different from simply looking at a poster of it. They wanted to immerse people in the action. So they used the smells and sounds to provide an extra dimension to the campaign and make people feel like they were really at the game. The fact that people often have to sit and wait at a stop for their bus is an added bonus for marketers, as they are a captive audience – and the various features of this type of campaign have more time to filter into their thoughts or fire their imaginations.

Similarly, the Chilean goal bus stop campaign makes life more interesting for local commuters. It’s a fairly simple idea, yet very innovative. It presents an experience, which is far more likely to be remembered than a cursory glance at a poster – which will often go in one eye and out the other! Other retailers should take some inspiration from these two marketing ideas, which appeal to sight and touch – and in Foxtels case; smell and hearing – for ways to extend their customer experience to areas where potential customers might welcome the distraction.