In-Scope: Problem Solving With “Ambient Media”

Rosy Blyther is a Strategist for OMD Sydney, bringing forward-thinking direction and strategy to a multitude of client challenges.

Some briefs just can’t be solved with purely traditional media channels. No matter how effective our digital targeting may be, or how much reach a TV buy can get us, some briefs ask us to tackle issues that are deeply rooted in a certain culture or amongst secluded individuals.

This is where thinking creatively, thinking differently, and using innovative media solutions can not only be interesting for case studies, but can effectively shift the dial and produce incredible results for clients and consumers alike.

That’s why I love AMBIENT MEDIA; using inanimate objects or environments and turning them into a media channel.

Why I love it? The successful campaign examples below are not just gimmicks or fame pieces – brands have utilised objects that are inherently built from the strength of the insight they were founded upon. They either help solve a deeply rooted issue in a community, create a new channel when traditional media coverage is minimal, or use creativity to be in a space they originally couldn’t play within.

We can use these examples, and some inspiration questions, as a starter for how we can all try ambient media for ourselves.

1. What items do my target consumers use every single day?

When Savlon wanted to help get soap into rural Indian children’s hands to help reduce illness and disease from unwashed hands, they turned to the one object that the children used every day – blackboard chalk. Infusing blackboard chalk with soap, it turned chalk dust on the child’s hand into suds once run under water, and effectively communicated their message of hand hygiene right in the hands of their audience.

DePaul UK, a charity for the homeless, took the most iconic item associated with the homeless, the cardboard box, and flipped it from something inherently negative, into a positive tool for change. They created the DePaul Box Company – for every cardboard removal box sold that helped people to move home, all profits would go towards helping the homeless on their journey to having a home.2. What environments do my consumers come into contact with regularly?

Manzana Postobon, a soft drinks company, wanted to help put an end to food waste. Where do most of their customers drink their soft drinks? In food courts and fast  food restaurants around Colombia. Postobon revamped their traditional food tray placemat advertising in these locations and turned them into a helpful solution – a food tray that could easily be folded into a box that could pack their leftovers up and hand them to someone in need of a meal that day.3. How can I remove some barriers to engage with my consumer?

Tigo Une, who own the pay phones around Columbia, unearthed that 8 million Colombians do not have an official bank account. To combat this, outdated pay phones across Colombia were connected to a system that turns them into de facto digital banking terminal. People simple created a login, paid their coins into their new “account” and could then partake in official monetary transactions such as bills and direct debits which they were previously secluded from.

For OPSM opticians, OMD Australia and Saatchi & Saatchi unearthed that over a quarter of Australia’s parents had never taken their child for an eye test, and that 1 in 6 children are having trouble reading due to undiagnosed eye problems. Rather than trying to force these time-poor parents into store, they created a more convenient and enjoyable eye test experience: Penny The Pirate, a storybook that enables parents to screen their child’s vision. A new media channel was created that was much easier and more accessible, and enabled a new consumer action and ongoing change in behaviour.So, I ask you all to challenge yourself when the right brief comes in – anything can become a media channel with a strong insight and a bit of imagination!




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