Calling all services

25 06 2010

Consumer choice

My walk to work in the mornings takes me through Kings Cross and along Euston road. The phone boxes for pretty much the entire length of the route are filled with a colourful array of prostitute calling cards. I’d always sort of tuned these out as just another part of the urban landscape. Recently however something struck me. These cards are probably the best examples of effective advertising you’ll ever find. Think about it:

Niche proposition

There’s a dizzying breadth of options and services on offer that can cater for the most discriminating of tastes. ‘Tall, black beauty’, ‘older lady’, ‘barely legal teen’, ‘dressing up’, ‘a dressing down for naughty boys’, ‘spanking’, ‘fantasies’, ‘spanking fantasies’. It’s all there. On a phone box wall no more than 60x60cm there could be 30 cards, yet each one stands out from the competition with a clear and unique proposition.

Audience insight

One piece of text stood out for me here. ‘I really love my job’ This is such a clear demonstration of the understanding that no punter wants a hooker that just lies there like a sack of spuds, I love it. Couple this with points of reassurance about discretion and user experience and you see that these ladies of the night know their audience.

Suspension of disbelief

In the best traditions of the theatre, the cards usually carry a picture of one or more women with bodies unfeasible outside of photoshop, dressed up in revealing underwear, the expense of which is inversely proportional to it’s cheapness. Occasionally you’ll even see a photo of a celebrity from her younger years. There’s no way anyone believes that when you dial the number the lady turning up will look like the one on the card, but that’s fine. You accept it just like you accept that the airline cabin doesn’t look like the ad.

Simplicity of execution

Grab attention and stimulate through image, make a specific offer in under five words, provide a clear call to action. They should teach this in design school.

Media selection

If you like what you see, here’s the means to get it. This kind of media placement is like having a personalised clothes rack arrive at your house the moment you think you need a new pair of jeans. Given that no one actually uses public phones anymore, the effect is amplified – the phone box is the advert, the distribution channel and the communications medium all in one.

So if you work at a creative agency, as I do, and are looking for simple way to communicate effectively and generate a measurable action, you could do worse than pop to the corner and pick up some details. I won’t tell anyone.




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