Sunday, November 14, 2010

Awaiting The Green

I was walking out of a copy store with some fliers I had gotten done the other day, when I noticed drivers on a busy street during rush hour sitting in traffic in front of me.  I had a perpendicular view of everyone halted during a red light; each person forced to stare at the back of the car, truck or van in front of them.  All were probably lost in thought of what they still had to do that afternoon and what they were planning for the evening, the week, whatever.  It’s amazing how much of this momentary thinking goes on while gazing mindlessly at a well-worn black plastic license plate frame with “Sun Valley Dodge” emblazoned on it.  Or a bumper sticker that says, “Jerry Brown for Governor,” "McCain/Palin," or on some very dusty cars, "Ross Perot," that's partially peeling off.

And so I wonder, with this opportunity of accumulated millions of hours of people's staring, spacing out, and potentially having ideas suggested into their minds by all sorts of companies wanting to advertise to them while stopped in traffic, how long will it be until advertising is sold on the back of vehicles?  Not with just those big car decals we’ve all seen for companies where people get paid to drive around with a huge Domino’s Pizza logo on every surface, or ads in the back windows of taxi cabs, but rather with full-on moving text and light displays, akin to those you might see in Times Square or Tokyo, appearing on the back of cars’ windows via some translucent electrical technology.  Additionally, global positioning satellite knowledge of where you're reading it, making the content more pertinent to you logistically, could be baked into the ad instantaneously.

The light display might scroll, "Here you are sitting at Sepulveda and Wilshire Blvd at 4:15pm on a Wednesday afternoon - did you know that your auto insurance likely doesn't sufficiently cover you? Have you even checked lately? Make your next right and stop in at ABC Auto Insurance for the lowest quote anywhere," followed by a simple GPS map and art of a happy driver waving his hand.  The law would probably prohibit these things from illuminating when cars are in motion, but perhaps they could kick on when the auto’s brakes are locked and engine idling for more than ten seconds, such as at traffic signals.

I’m not advocating this at all.  Like we need more distractions on the road and additional input into our already overwhelmed brains about how to get your teeth and undies to be the whitest they can be, why the Nasdaq has plummeted in the last forty minutes, or which law firm will get your ass out of trouble if you happen to be reading the ad intoxicated, and then subsequently get pulled over by police; "If you've been drinking and are reading this ad, we'll be expecting your call in about ten minutes.  866 555 BAIL...remember the number 866 555 BAIL!"  But it does surprise me that so much time is spent staring at the backs of other people’s treasures and heaps and yet, no one is really taking advantage of this open advertising space (and time) financially.  Or maybe I should just say that I’m thankful for it.