Keeping in the theme of retail and commercial services by bike, which we recently posted about, today’s post is dedicated to bike advertising. With the spring and summer months creeping up, many business/bicycle-minded folks might be inspired to think about using bicycles for advertising businesses or services in the coming months. Hopefully this post can serve as a reference and source of inspiration for such an undertaking.
Advertising is essentially the art of persuasion. Persuasion to purchase a particular product, use a specific kind of service, act a certain kind of way, and so forth. Advertising in its purest form is intended to get people to buy something (as consumers) or buy into something (such as a political party). At the same time, advertising is much more than a simple act of persuasion. Wrapped up in advertising are all kinds of social and cultural norms, which convey commonly accepted ideas about the kinds of things being advertised. Therefore, advertising can be to clearly advertise particular products or ideas, but it can also convey all kinds of more subtle messages beneath the surface.
For example, the advertisement in the videos below, which I saw at Cyclelicio.us, depicts a race between a cyclist and a driver in a Mercedes. Oddly enough, the cyclist wins the race, but MercedesBenzTV does not miss the opportunity to talk a little trash about cyclist behaviors (in this case, breaking traffic laws). The ad is a great example of the power of advertising and the social norms wrapped up in the ads we are exposed to.
If one accepts that advertising can be used to do more than just advertise the product for which a particular advertisement has been generated, then bike advertising (or bikevertising) can be used positively to encourage the idea of bike advertising (or bikevertising) can be used positively to encourage the idea of cycling, in general. Conversely, advertising can also be used negatively…or neutrally, as well. But I would argue that when people see an advertisement moving around via bicycle, this will have some kind of an impact on their perception of cycling, though what that impact is exactly could be hard to pin down. Although the products being advertised by bike might not have anything to do with cycling, the simple act of advertising by bicycle will, in a sense, advertise cycling in a positive light (hopefully).
When I refer to bike advertising, I mean a form of advertisement, which explicitly uses the bicycle to transport the advertisement itself. In Wikipedia verbiage, this would fall under the category of a non-motorized mobile billboard, which is a moving advertisement that is not motor-powered. Bicycle advertising is commonly undertaken by the vendors themselves, who use their employees to power the bike. Conversely, some bike advertisers get paid by businesses for the advertising space and time spent riding around with the advertisement.
Naturally, some of the benefits of bike advertising are related to the manoeuvrability of bicycles in crowded or congested environments. Bike advertising is great for festivals, large events, and other situations where a lot of people are crammed into small spaces. Advertisements by bicycle stick out and draw attention to the products being advertised, and if the products or services are also readily accessible within the area, the advertising is often pretty successful.
If you run a bike advertising business or use bicycles to advertise your business, we would love to hear from you in the comments section. Does bike advertising work for you?