Being a commuter who relies on public transportation to get to work everyday, half of my 40 minute commute is spent waiting for buses or trains to arrive. Part of my commute includes walking through an outdoor hotel valet station. Every winter, the hotel turns on heat lamps for the valets, and I take advantage of the lamps to warm up on my commute; even if it’s just for a few seconds. So I was envious when I recently read a New York Times article entitled “Hot Food, and Air, at Bus Stops.”
Kraft Foods has partnered up with JCDecaux North America to provide heated lamps in 10 bus shelters in Chicago to advertise its Stove Top brand of stuffing. This brought a smile to my face, not only because the heat lamps would provide much comfort on my commute, but the mention of Stove Top conjures up feelings from my childhood. When I think of Stove Top stuffing, I think of eating hot dinners with my family in Syracuse, NY, while watching the snowflakes fall. Kraft Foods is banking that these feelings of warmth are also shared by commuters in the windy city of Chicago. Besides the heat lamps, Kraft Foods will also place posters in the shelters that include the tagline, “Cold, provided by winter. Warmth, provided by Stove Top.” Kraft Food also plans to supplement and complement the heated bus shelters by giving out samples of Stove Top’s new product called Quick Cups to commuters.
This type of experiential advertising exemplifies how advertisers are thinking of other ways for customers to experience a product or brand rather than passively view or ignore, a more traditional ad placement such as a magazine ad or TV commercial.
However, there have been other attempts by advertisers to offer experiential marketing that have gone sour. In 2006, the California Milk Processor Board placed scent strips in bus shelters in San Francisco. However, the campaign was ended because the scent strips were deemed inappropriate and there was worry that the strips could cause allergic reactions. As Mr, Decaux states in the article, “You always have to be careful not to upset the balance between having a presence and being too intrusive.”
Done carefully, experiential marketing can provide a positive experience and interaction with a brand. It’s questionable whether this campaign will actually translate to Stove Top sales, but it’s a good example of an advertiser providing a unique way of grabbing consumer interest.