Look at moy, look at moy!

We have all heard that the average individual is exposed to roughly 3,000 advertisements every day. Regardless of whether this fact is true, it goes without saying that if you want to get noticed you have to stand out. So how do you stand out in an overcrowded market, especially when the norm is a billboard in Times Square?


Of course, this figure of 3,000 is highly criticised by many people who believe that the true number is higher and many people who believe the true number is much lower. But despite this debate, we are exposed to a huge amount of advertising each day.

So the key question for any brand is ‘How do I stand out against all that competition?’

When it comes to marketing a Broadway show, the norm is to put up a large billboard in Times Square. While this may be the normal thing to do, it probably isn’t a very effective location to attract consumers. You have huge amount of competition (I think you could reach your 3,000 ad quota in a matter of seconds if you stand in Times Square!) and you have tourists who are completely distracted because they are actually in Times Square.

However, despite those downsides, it is something every show must do. Why? A couple of reasons:

  • Consumers who line up at TKTS in the middle of Times Square for hours to get discounted tickets will be looking at the billboards to decide which shows they want to see
  • If you get in the background of some tourist happy snaps then for the rest of their life, your brand will be imprinted in their holiday memories (and also the minds of the countless people they have been shown to!)
  • With great luck, you might be fortunate enough to get in the background of some professional photos or scenes in television shows and movies

But this doesn’t solve the problem of being seen against all the competition.

So what does?

If there was one simple answer to this, then all marketers would be out of a job. In my opinion I am a big fan of simplicity against all the visual noise that is coming from other billboards. For example, I like the really simple design of RENT (above). Not only does it contrast with the high-colour, high-action billboards of other shows by being black and white and simple, but it also saves you a heap on the design budget!

But then, every time I look at a picture of Times Square I am drawn to the sign for ‘Roxy’s Delicatessen’ for some strange reason. Maybe it is the simple and old-world electronic sign against all the video screens, maybe it is the classic typeface used? I don’t know.

But if you can work it out, you can become a millionaire.

In the high competition markets in which most products compete, it can be near impossible to know exactly what will work, which is why I want to run a little experiment.

Have a look at the picture of Times Square below and tell me, in a comment below, which billboard stands out the most. Maybe together we can solve this mystery!