Service of Two Marketing Home Runs & a Third That Strikes Out

December 10th, 2018

Categories: Communications, Emails, Marketing, Subway

I am gleeful when I see a clever marketing campaign and am almost offended when what I thought was a smart organization falls short.

Here are two good ones and one not so.

Poster Perfect

I enjoyed a witty set of advertising posters on the Lexington Avenue express subway produced by Seamless, a food ordering and delivery service that’s part of the GrubHub family. It reminded readers that it knows its neighbors and what they most like to eat.

The campaign, written in a New York-y voice is eye-catching, and a mini relief for passengers in uncomfortable circumstances, inspiring them to smile.

Some of the headlines were:

  • “The Most Potassium-Rich Neighborhood –Murray Hill– based on the number of banana orders. No one’s cramping here”
  • “The Loudest Neighborhood–Park Slope Brooklyn –based on the number of chip orders. Your neighbors can actually hear you crunching”
  • “The Neighborhood in Most Need of a Vacation–Dyker Heights Brooklyn– based on the number of tropical smoothies ordered. Just take one already.

Subway Smiles

Another subway campaign hit the spot. Coca-Cola: Happiness starts with a smile – YouTube was produced by a Belgian agency. An actor looking at something on his tablet on a crowded train begins to laugh and his giggles are contagious. The tagline is “Happiness starts with a smile.” Towards the end of the ride people wearing red tee-shirts with the Coke logo hand passengers cans of soda and a postcard with the theme.

The Long and the Short of It

The second Obama Foundation Summit produced a lame campaign as far as its outreach to me is concerned. It came via email. The subject line “I want to hear your story Jeanne.” The theme: “Common Hope Uncommon Stories.”

Janelle Monáe, who signed the email, wrote: “No matter how different each of our tales are, we must do what we can to help each other achieve the extraordinary. When someone shares their story, we see the world through their eyes. That’s why I’m reaching out today. I want to hear your tale. Tell me your story in 10 words or less: How do you work towards a better future?”

I can be succinct but 10 words on a serious subject doth not a serious request make–even for an elevator pitch. Think that was a typo? Its impact on me: I stopped reading well before the bright red DONATE link at the bottom. I can think of some snarky 10 word retorts, such as “Get rid of the president,” though I’m not sure that they reflect me and my story. How many personal stories “work towards a better future?” Am I being persnickety and too literal? Have I lost my sense of humor?

Have you seen any clever ad campaigns on public transportation—trains, busses, subways? Was the Obama Foundation’s communication a fundraiser for the hip and therefore way over my head?

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4 Responses to “Service of Two Marketing Home Runs & a Third That Strikes Out”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Most ads are longwinded and dreary affairs, so learning of good ones is refreshing. Forget the political ones appearing in emails. They seek to empty the communal pocketbook, nothing more, so are not worth mentioning. The senders don’t give a hoot about anyone’s story, only about how much lands in their coffers. It might pay to check out this “Obama Foundation.” It might have nothing to do with the former President!

  2. Protius Said:

    I had an odd, and I realize politically incorrect, reaction to your post today. I thought of Lady Bird Johnson.

    I remember, before I-95 was built, having to drive from Washington to New York through corridors of relentlessly ugly billboard lined highways. The trip took forever, and I still can feel the oppressiveness of the visual pounding of watching those infernal signs, one after another, passing by. It was unfettered marketing at it its very worst.

    I never had much use for President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his radical social engineering, but Lady Bird has always been one of my heroes for her efforts to stop the desecration of the natural beauty of our countryside by supply side driven marketers ever urging us to consume.

    If the human race and life on earth is to survive, we should be doing just the opposite, and learning how to conserve instead. And how much nicer it would be to be always able to drive or walk down highways and streets uncluttered by signage.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are so right! The political one might have been a scam. It sure didn’t seem to fit what I think of as the way the Obamas do things and there are so many hackers around. I feel ashamed.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Funny you thought of Lady Bird. I agree that on highways and byways no posters are best. Is it the state of Vermont that at one point forbade any poster even on a major highway and may still do so?

    But in a subway, it’s a different matter. I often welcome something to distract me when a subway car is too crammed with people to be able to pull out anything to read. And the Belgium Coca-Cola commercial with the giggler would have made me so happy! When I hear a group of friends laughing their heads off in public –subway, bus, restaurant–it makes me smile as well even if I don’t know the reason they are amused.

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