Signs You May Be Overexposed to Advertising

Back in the 1950’s, an advertising officer for General Mills made a speech in which he cited “research” showing that the average American was being exposed to over 1500 advertising messages every day. At least, that’s how the media interpreted his comments. It may have really been closer to 400 messages a day, but the 1500 figure stuck.

Throughout the “Madmen” period of advertising in the 1960’s and 1970’s (When the business was actually fun!), those of us lucky enough to be involved touted the same number, 1500, to help clients realize the need to stand above the “noise” and the “clutter” of so many daily messages. And, we did good memorable advertising.

Leaping ahead to 2011, I would guess the numbers of daily message exposures to be greatly increased, primarily because of all the bits and bytes out there. And, with increasing ambivalence to those messages, all over your email and everything else you look at, we hardly pay attention to any of them. Even when they pop up on the street and smack you in the face.

And some of those “smack you in the face” moments are starting to appear in Downtown Denver. Denver by the Slice wrote about it last November at this item.

Rendering of Sign, Branded Cities website

The Denver Theater District, a business development group behind the make-over of 14th Street, and, ostensibly a supporter of theater, has added some giant signs recently. Both along 14th and near the theaters there…and, now…as promised…on the 16th Street Mall. Bright.

Initially reported as 18′ x 32′, the sign wraps the orner above the street at the Champa Square Building, 1600 Champa. It is big and bright. 51 minutes of advertisements every hour. A few minutes of promotion for groups and events. The past week saw an awful lot of the Hawaiian Islands complete with palm trees and outrigger canoes. Lots of advertising.

Over on 14th Street, the electronics have been there a while, sometimes with art and events. But, added to some giant printed posters for products and retailers like Target without a Downtown presence.

Target, from Branded Cities website

All of this is brought to us by an Arizona company called Branded Cities. They seem to be turning us into a Times Square with all these lights and LED’s. But, the environment and landscape of Times Square is big and very tall, and it can absorb the signs much more readily than Downtown Denver. It’s a matter of scale.

Branded Cities is doing this to other cities as well, and you can read about them (with pictures) at their website here. Their mantra is called “Brandscaping, a blending of brands with consumer activities.”

Bright lights smacking you in the face, and it causes us to want to look away. That’s not effective, memorable or pleasing advertising…today, or back in the day.

This Sign Went Out

On a related note, a new business called Yogurt Time opened this month off Platte Street, next to Colt & Gray at the base of the 16th Street I-25 Pedestrian Bridge. They are nice, hard working people. For a few days, they had a very bright electronic sign attached to the brick facade. and it really did not fit the neighborhood. Now, it’s gone. But, the yogurt’s good in lots of flavors, and they’ll be happy if you find them on your own!  That’s called “Word of Mouth”!