Plug In To The Power Of The Humble Billboard – No Cable Required

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Powermat

Terribly old-fashioned, I know. But this morning my eye was caught by the quaintest of media throwbacks. A billboard.

Not a digital display. Not a clever spinny-thing with three different, rotating ads.

Just a basic billboard pasted up by the side of the road, hopefully  by a guy with a ladder, a bucket and a big brush.

Lose The Cords It urged in three foot high letters – accompanied by a pic of rather fetching young woman with lots of power cables wrapped round her napper.

Taking a mental note of the product on show (Powermat, should you be interested), as soon as I got into the office, I checked it out on Google.

The media power of Powermat

I urge you to do the same. I rather suspect the nifty Powermat will prove a hit with the electricity-hungry, gadget-festooned, modern media consumer.

Maybe the nice people at Powermat will even send me a sample for review purposes? We’ll see.

All of which set me thinking: the ad is aimed squarely at the new media consumer. The iPhone and pocket gadget generation who want their information and entertainment in the palm of the hand.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully embrace the opportunities afforded by the new media. I’m a devotee of blogging and tweeting and video and podcasts.

Each and every one of them gives new impetus and extra depth to what I’ve always loved – telling stories.

Public relations in a digital era

I love news. I love adverts. I love marketing. I’m a sucker for a soundbite,  a slave to pithy sloganeering and always searching for a story fix.

So Web 2.0 is my natural nirvana, yes? Ahhh. Well. There’s a thing. While the new media giveth, it also taketh away.

Change is great and everything, but you cannae beat the real thing. And for most of my 40 years, the real thing has been newspapers and telly and radio.

Oh aye – and billboards (back in 1984 a baffled Italian vistor to Edinburgh left me in stitches by asking: “Who is this Bill Posters and why is he to be prosecuted?” I sh*t you not).

All of these now seem rather passe and most are in a terrible financial fix at the moment.

Building a business profile online

Those forms of media  can only watch helplessly as once stout foundations  are reduced to dust at a speed that is nigh on incomprehensible: gnawed through in an unfeasibly few short years by the  insatiable and endlessly resourceful termite of change.

I tell myself that change is good. That the internet democratises the media. That choice is ennobling.

But the fact is that change is also unsettling. That quantity doesn’t beat quality. That erosion in media standards, to those of my generation, seems indisputable.

So there is a nice symmetry – and just a pleasing dash of irony –  to today’s experience.

Yes. My life would benefit from a simple, cable-free way to charge my phone, my iPod, my laptop, my Flip video.

That in turn would make it easier for me to keep running (invariably as fast as I possibly can) to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites and the latest social network fad.

All I needed was a nice, stolid, unfashionable, unglamorous and rigidly rooted billboard to tell me so.

Notch one up for the old guys.

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