By Patrick Cuttica, Account Manager at SocialKaty, Inc.
I’ve asked myself this question the last three times I’ve driven on the Edens on my way into the city from O’Hare Airport. In fact, after the second time, I actually set a mental reminder to make sure I looked again — perhaps a little harder — the next time I was driving East on the Edens from O’Hare. Maybe if I was more prepared, ready for it, I’d get a better idea of what this giant, ridiculously bright digital billboard hanging on the side of an otherwise nondescript warehouse-looking brick building was promoting; or, at the very least, I’d be able to determine whose billboard it was.
No such luck.
Fast forward a couple of months and I have my answer. Apparently, it is the property and creative genius of Command Transportation, a Chicago-based logistics company (freight broker) with offices in Kansas City, St. Louis & Houston.
It seems that a witty, well-timed Olympics-meets-Pop-Culture themed meme (of sorts) on the almost blinding electronic sign has garnered a slew of attention from major media outlets. Nothing like leveraging Justin Bieber and the Olympic Men’s Hockey Gold Medal Qualifying Game to draw attention to yourself.
But, despite the slew of media coverage, did this publicity really give them the results they wanted (or think they deserve for being so witty)? It appears not:
As a digital marketer who is constantly thinking in terms of increasing brand awareness, driving more traffic, acquiring more downloads, sign-ups or customers, etc., this intrigued me.
While Command Transportation bemoans their inability to capture elusive Facebook “Likes” from such a timely and witty campaign — one that, dare I say it, may be bordering on “going viral” — I can’t help but thinking, in a broader sense, that they are really on to something.
One visit to their Twitter account, cleverly chosen as @CommandSign, will demonstrate that this isn’t their first crack at creating timely, relevant memes that would make just about anyone laugh — and maybe even put them in the same breath as Oreo or Arby’s with regards to timeliness and relevancy.
Whether they realize it or not (I think they do, kind of), @CommandSign is a perfect example of successfully marrying the old-school with the new reality in the marketing world. Essentially, they are taking the ingredients that make up a successful social media marketing tactic online (ie, sharing a funny meme on Facebook or sending a perfectly timed, clever tweet like Arby’s or Oreo), and they are broadcasting this content through a more traditional “old-school” media channel offline — a billboard.
How could they?! Print is dead! — you say? Apparently not, if you apply a little creativity and innovation. That said, getting back to their lament over being properly credited and rewarded for their wittiness, I’d offer two suggestions:
1. Your signs are well thought out and hilarious, but no one knows who you are!
- It’s analogous to the @GSElevator Twitter handle in the sense that you’re catching people’s attention with snarky, borderline offensive (maybe to some) content; yet the only difference is, @GSElevator chooses to remain anonymous — it’s part of the schtick. This should not be the case for you, @CommandSign. How about you put a Command Transportation sign up somewhere on that massive brick wall next to the glowing billboard. Or, at the very least, put your Twitter handle in the bottom corner of each new meme you project on that sign!
2. If you’re going to be snarky (and hilarious) on the actual Command Sign, maintain that snarky and hilarious brand voice on the digital @CommandSign.
- When, for whatever odd reason, people bombarded you on Twitter with requests to republish the photo of your sign, don’t just reply with “go right ahead” or “permission granted” (see below). Instead, oblige (seeing as though they didn’t really need to ask you anyway), but reply in the voice your billboard would, like: “Sure, maybe we’ll take a photo of your office someday too.” Even better, engage in actual conversation and get them to talk about your brand by replying with something like, “Yes, but only if you can explain what Command Transportation does.”
At the end of the day, we say kudos to you Command Transportation. We love what you’re doing with the @CommandSign, and we want to see you get the credibility you deserve as well!