Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul considers Glee-ifying potential Alphabet City sponsors.
Some days I long for the simplicity of yesteryear—when I was comforted by printed advertisements in newspapers. It’s one of the reasons that despite training myself to digitally read the New York Times during the week, I insist on subscribing to the printed weekend edition of the Gray Lady. I actually look forward to getting my hands dirty opening up the Sunday Arts & Leisure section for a clue from the advertising as to what Broadway hits/flops are headed my way, or which ‘70s TV star has a cabaret career courtesy of Feinstein’s at the Regency. The ads themselves become part of my pop-culture fact-finding mission.
Promos online just don’t give me the same sense of satisfaction. The great benefit of Internet advertising is supposedly targeting products directly to interested readers thanks to a generous helping of cookies profiling users’ behaviors. Sometimes, I feel like there’s a mad baker behind the scenes who is just throwing tracking confections at me non-stop. On Facebook, an ad for “Bichon T-shirts” seems like it has become a permanent part of my home page thanks to missives about my foofy dog Frida. On Statcounter, I site a I use to track statistics for my own blog, I’ve been getting ads for the gay hook-up site Manhunt 24/7. Okay, I get it. I wrote about your competitor Grindr a couple of times on the blog. Just don’t tell anyone I’ve checked out your site, too.
Things get a little more awkward over at NYTimes.com. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to escape the “Portraits of Peninsula” ad campaign from the luxury hotel company. The black and white portrait features a multi-ethnic cross section of employees—it should give me a good feeling about the inclusiveness and diversity of the company. But when it popped up next to a story about Arizona’s draconian immigration initiatives, the ad took an unexpected and appreciated political tone. One click later, and it was next to a story on the continued waste and despair in Haiti. Boy, that makes you rethink the meaning of luxury—and not in the way I imagine the Peninsula folks intended.
Like many bloggers, I am tackling how to incorporate advertisers and sponsors into my site that does not distract from the user experience—but enhances my bottom line. Today’s NYT’s advertising column by my friend Stuart Elliott, Serving Up Musical Comfort Food, gives me hope. Marketers are turning to songs from classic musicals like “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” and “Sound of Music” to advertise everything from Hyundai cars to Dove hair care. The experts interviewed say the songs are like “comfort food” for folks during a recession. I don’t know about that. I think it’s the Glee-ification of America that suddenly makes show queens like me popular again. When Oprah devotes an entire gushing hour to the corny, must see mega-hit show, you know America’s at a musical theater tipping point. Incidentally, the ads that popped up next to Stuart’s piece? Bonus miles for cross-country travel on American Airlines and an investment conference in Kazakhstan. Clearly, the web cookie bakers know about my upcoming book tour.
So don’t be surprised in the next few months when you check out ABCitblog.com and you hear me singing some musical jingles authentically integrating sponsors into the site. I’m thinking for my insurance company of choice crooning a show-stopping number as Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors… “Suddenly State Farm, is standing beside you…”