I hope the U.S. Army aims better with guns than billboards

Posted: June 30, 2008 in Directed Advertising
Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s a billboard off the northbound side of Rt 95 near Stamford, Connecticut advertising Army Football tickets. Why? Of all the places you could put a billboard for Army football tickets, why there?

I’d like to believe that there’s a reason. That research showed that a high percentage of West Point Military Academy alumni or people otherwise predisposed to buy Army football tickets drive by that very spot on a daily basis. Maybe it’s a guerrilla marketing play, and it’s there just to catch the attention of a single alumnus, now a military contractor, who buys tickets by the truckload to give out to legislators. Or maybe it’s just there to stick it to Navy, with the submarine base just up the road in Groton.

West Point isn’t the only college I’ve seen that’s advertised on billboards in strange places. I’ve seen college recruitment billboards for out of state schools on the New Jersey Turnpike. I can’t remember the school because it made such little sense. But again, I’d like to believe that there’s a reason. That a worthwhile portion of applicants to the school actually come from New Jersey. Or that a significant portion of a rival schools applicants come from New Jersey, and our school wanted to steal market share.

The alternative is just too grim to think about: that some agency (or in-house marketing department at West Point) made a specific choice to advertise there, or worse, they bought a generalized outdoor buy that delivers generic driver eyeballs in random locations with little oversight or audit.

Isn’t there a more targeted way to reach potential Army Football ticket buyers than a billboard in Stamford CT? Any form of directed advertising, from behaviorally targeted online ads, channel sponsorships, paid search, direct mail to alumni lists, blog ads on sports blogs, etc., etc., etc.

By the way, the day isn’t that far off when seeming anomalies will be spawned by the dozen thanks to media targeting programs that allow you to find anyone anywhere. There’s already Balihoo, which promises to let you find virtually any target across virtually any medium (including out-of-home). And I’ve got to believe that the best media buying companies have their own in house versions that go deeper, broader and faster than that.

But until that day, or if that day is here already, can someone please explain to me who the ad-snipers from West Point are aiming at on Rt. 95 north in Stamford, and why?

  1. Matt Hanson says:

    Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson

  2. jlsimons says:

    Thanks, Matt. You’re my first link… I feel like I exist.

  3. jlsimons,

    The billboard near Stamford is aimed at the 1 million residents of Fairfield county, most of whom don’t realize that they live only 1 hour from West Point. That right, Stamford is 54 miles from the home of the Black Knights. A seventy minute drive to a family friendly Division 1 football experience, not to mention NCAA hockey, basketball, lacrosse and the 4400 seat Eisenhower Hall that hosts 4 Broadway shows this year–all open ot the public. We are trying to let people know that in less time than it takes to drive to the Meadowlands you can come and watch a cadet parade on the historic Plain above the Hudson River, then walk a few hundred yards to Michie Stadium, named one of the best places in America to watch a sporting event, see the cadets march on, and watch Army football. And it isn’t expensive and unlike some venues no one will spill beer on your back or shout profanities in your ear.

    Bryan Hilferty
    Director of Communications

  4. jlsimons says:

    Thank you for the explanation. I am qvelling (yiddish for giddy with joy) at your response, both because it shows that there was in fact a specific marketing target and because like a good marketer you capitalized on the opportunity to tell your story. I’ll just add that the Hotel Thayer on the West Point campus is one of my family’s favorite places for Sunday Brunch, and coupled with a game and a walk along the heights overlooking the Hudson makes for a memorable and beautiful experience. Go Black Knights!

  5. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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