October 26, 2011
The other day I posted this photo (creator unknown) on my Facebook and Twitter, calling it a “sign of the times.” I’d discovered the picture on Facebook. Many of my friends shared and liked the photo. Clearly, it struck a chord. Without sounding arrogant, I knew it would. Blending compassion to services, this is just the kind of message that resonates these days. Whether we are in recession or not, people are still out of work and small businesses are still struggling to survive. This poster poignantly captures that reality…
Here a small business is reaching out to the man on the street, parlaying the headlines into one of its own. Timely and relevant, the poster not only has impact but it demands a response. And in a fashion befitting its message: a poster, similar to the iconic “Will Work for Food” messages of the great depression. A tiny gesture, yes, but fraught with power.
Think about the advertiser (a dry cleaners) and the target (unemployed businessmen). Both speak to white collar America. Dry-cleaning a suit costs five to ten dollars a pop. I think of better times- yuppies pulling up to the dry cleaners in BMW’s on their way to or from work. This simple poster turns that idea upside down. It’s moving.
Cynics may say the shopkeeper is exploiting hard times to generate traffic. And I say so what? Isn’t that the definition of good marketing? If the cleaners merely marked down prices it would not have had the same effect, or any effect. Linking the offer to hardcore reality is what turns the trick. Whether or not the shop owner was feigning compassion is irrelevant. He is putting his money where his mouth is. If employed people switch dry cleaners out of empathy for his offer that does not make the store’s owner a duplicitous capitalist; it just means he’s smart.
Too bad the photographer failed to capture the shop’s name in the photograph. The store would have benefited from all the exposure generated on Facebook, Twitter and blogs like mine. An image like this could easily find itself on the nightly news, alongside an “Occupied City” story, making a nifty piece of guerilla marketing a good integrated campaign as well! If anyone knows the dry cleaner in question let me know and I’ll share the information here.
(Thank you Brian Heidenfelder and Bob Winter for alerting me to the photograph.)