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LivingSocial Advertising on the DC Metro?
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:00

I've always thought the decision to advertise on subways was smarter than it seemed. It's sort of like advertising above a urinal: you've got someone's captive attention when they don't have anything else to do but wait (ok, maybe one thing to do). My guess is those ads get read a lot more, and a lot more closely, than your average print ad stuck somewhere else.

I've gotten used to the usual advertisers on the Washington, D.C. Metro. The National Institutes of Health is a big one, with their constant search for people to participate in health studies. Then there was the "Consider Humanism" campaign, which must have fertile ground in DC's brand of highly-educated, liberal metro riders. But over the weekend, I saw an ad that surprised me. It was the daily deal site LivingSocial advertising for entry-level salespeople.

What, you say? A highly innovative startup riding the new media, location-based, social-media-obsessed wave/bubble of excitement is advertising on... the DC Metro? (By the way, I neglected to take a picture of said ad with my new shmanzy Verizon iPhone, but I am on the lookout for the ad again and will upload a photo when I get one). My first thought was why would a company like LivingSocial do something so uterly traditional as run print advertising on the DC Metro. But actually, there are a lot of good reasons to do so.
  1. Reason #1: LivingSocial is hiring a lot of people right now and may be needing to cast a wide net to find them. Despite the millions upon millions of unemployed out there, good help is still hard to find, sorry to say. This is probably particularly true for LivingSocial, which is basically trying to leverage traditional concepts (selling ads and giving discounts) using new tools like e-mail, web apps, and social media.
  2. Reason #2: A company predicated on location-based marketing and discounts needs people who live in that place, frequent local businesses, and know about the local environment. Is it me, or aren't you more likely to find that sort of person riding the D.C. Metro, than trolling Monster.com or some other generic job board?
  3. Reason #3: They've got tons and tons of money, so why not? LivingSocial has raised hundreds of millions in financing to rapidly expand its business, so prioritizing a limited ad budget is probably not the driving factor in their hunt for qualified applicants at this point. Enterprises that are well-financed tend to hit on all cylinders for a while until they either run out of money or learn what's effective and what's not, and adjust.
  4. Reason #4: Integrated communications strategies work. Let's face it: I read dozens of marketing and communications blogs, I keep up on trends and news, and I'm a generally well-informed person, but I still didn't know LivingSocial was hiring in D.C. – or even that they were based in D.C. – until this past weekend. Maybe I missed something, but clearly even the more informed among us can still miss things. When it comes to spreading the word, best to cover your bases.

The main point is, don't discount traditional tools. Sometimes, often times, they still have a very key role to play.

Cross-posted from RMS Strategies.