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October 30, 2009

Advertising on flies: Is it clever, creepy, cruel or all of the above?

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009

Ever wish you could be fly on a wall and listen in on a competing agency's strategy meetings? I doubt you will ever again after seeing what Jung von Matt came up with for Eichborn, a publishing company out in Germany. The agency claims to be (and I'm sure it is) the first in the world to use flies as a method of advertising. It attached tiny banners to the flies with a short waxy string, which eventually disintegrates. The paper was designed to be nearly weightless so the insect can still fly but at lower heights and a slower speed. They're also forced to rest more, often on or near people. I don't know whether this marketing ploy is creepy or clever, but seeing the people's reaction shows it does work. I wonder which other companies would dare to try this—perhaps perfume manufacturers who want to attract people that stink, or maybe some advocacy group that wants to grab people's attention about pollution, famine and disease. PETA always has disturbing marketing but I doubt this would fly (pun intended) with them. Is it animal cruelty? Perhaps a fly toting a banner would be less likely to get swatted, though. Watching the insects zig zag like a drunken sailor, I sincerely hope this method of marketing does not catch on. What's next, the revival of the carrier pigeon business?

—Posted by Phil Mathew

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