By buying billboards along well traveled routes in four cities (the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston, MA; the Eisenhower Expressway in Chicago, IL; the West Side Highway in New York City, NY; and U.S. 101 in San Francisco, CA), Google is making sure it reaches as many people in its target audience as possible.
As reported in Mediaweek, the campaign focuses on the internal monologue of a business professional who is frustrated with other, more expensive software offerings. Over the course of a month, commuters will see the fictitious businessperson come to an epiphany and switch to Enterprise.
The campaign is accomplished through daily vinyl copy changes. Workers change the copy between 6:30 and 7:30 am, guaranteeing the next installment is ready for that day’s commute.
It’s not the first time Google has gone outdoor. The company has used bus ads and poster size billboards in the past to raise awareness of new offerings. This is, however, most likely the highest impact campaign from the search giant yet.
The campaign generated massive media attention, with coverage in major newspapers (such as the Boston Globe) and in the trade press (in publications such as PC World).
It serves as an excellent example of outdoor advertising being the premiere way to reach busy commuters, and make a splash doing it.
One has often heard this in client conference rooms: ‘why can’t we build a brand without any advertising? Like Google?’. One can, if everyone had a Google-like product. Thanks to a heady mix of great product and PR, Google rarely had to use advertising to promote it’s search engine. With Microsoft offering some serious competition via Bing, Google has perhaps seen the need to get back at Microsoft. Google is now taking billboards across several US cities to promote Google Apps – a bundle of business applications that sells for $50 per worker annually, in a campaign labeled ‘Going Google’.
The cloud-based, free Google Apps have been around since 2007 but have not been a serious threat to Microsoft’s Office suite. Even though the paid version is ‘a fraction of what Microsoft Exchange costs’ it still hasn’t been able to break the big business’ preference for MS Office. With new ventures like Chrome OS, Google may have to rely on a lot more than word of mouth to promote it’s applications. The advantage it has is that Google being Google, it gets written about for anything it does. Even if it is a pretty average billboard put up in Boston.
Do yo think Google needs advertising to sell it’s wares?