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Are Bike Paths The Next Advertising Frontier?

Now here’s some outside-the-banner-ad thinking for you.

During the month of April PepsiCo’s Naked Juice leased a unique bit of ad space from Fair Park public park, just east of Dallas, TX: the bike lanes. Naked placed special skid-free decals bearing their logo and messaging roughly every 75 feet along the path, which ran for 5 miles. To sweeten the deal (literally), Naked occasionally brought in branded trucks to distribute free product samples to park patrons.

In an email exchange with Ad Age, Andrea Theodore, senior director-marketing for PepsiCo’s Naked Emerging Brands, explained that the campaign was designed to “address Naked’s target consumer’s key attributes: beverage drinkers who lead healthy and active lifestyles and who are connected to nature, family and community plus seek variety and new life experiences.”

“[Naked consumers are] constantly on the go, so these branded bike lanes are a creative and authentic way to talk to them where they already are.”
– Andrea Theodore

Hey, you have to admit that makes good marketing sense.

Naked's bike path branding at Fair Park, Dallas, TX. Image source: Mai Lyn Ngo, Deep Fried Fit
Naked’s bike path branding at Fair Park, Dallas, TX. Image source: Mai Lyn Ngo, Deep Fried Fit

Seize the “white space”

Naked’s media agency, Omnicom Group’s OMD, has an “everything is media” approach to marketing, which shows in this campaign. The agency seeks out “white spaces” where there isn’t advertising and creates concepts to fit that space.

The benefit of targeting unconventional and unproven white space is that advertisers can get a lot of bang for their buck. Celia Barshop, Fair Park’s senior park manager, reported that Naked paid the park between $6,000 and $8,000 for the monthlong campaign — a drop in the bucket compared to traditional channels. “It’s low-cost advertising, lots of eyeballs, so the ROI goes up per unit exponentially,” Barshop pointed out.

And Fair Park got something out of it, too: the chance to promote a newly designated cycling path and two new bike rental stations.

Long term benefits?

During economic downturns, parks and other public spaces are usually the first to suffer budget cutbacks. Branded advertising and promotional partnerships with corporations could go a long way toward preserving and maintaining open spaces for all.

Of course, not everyone is into the idea of being marketed to in what they see as “natural” space. Folks often bike, jog, and walk outside in an effort to escape media, and some won’t appreciate it finding them there.

The future is now

It’s difficult to know whether advertising like this will take off, but Naked is going all in. The brand also ran a similar campaign at a public park in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and negotiations are underway to launch future bike path ads in Boston, MA, and Portland, OR.

What would you think if you saw an ad on your local bike path?

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