New York City might only be 120 miles away from Albany, but lifestyle-wise it’s a lot further. Often we Upstaters are saddled with “regional” advertising campaigns directed toward New Yorkers (the city dwellers, not the state residents). I frequently see billboards or TV commercials referencing terms like “The Big Apple” and alluding to New York sports teams (of which many Albany residents are fans, to be fair).
Regional advertising is nothing new, but often campaigns chunk up the country into six or seven large segments and so the ads end up being somewhat general. Major metropolitan areas might get a specific campaign, but for those of us who live in small to medium-sized cities it’s rare to see national brands adapt their campaigns.
Apparently McDonald’s is changing that. I haven’t seen it yet, but according to one of my local Facebook pals there’s a TV spot floating around that’s very specific to the Albany area:
From Jen’s comment, this ad is extremely specific to the Capital Region of New York State and only the 800,000 or so people who live here could make any sense of those references. (Yes, our interstate jumps from Exit 2 to Exit 4 and no one seems to know why Exit 3 is missing. And Koscuiszko is a Polish dude who fought in the Revolutionary War and a bridge is named after him.)
Does this represent a new direction for national brands? Based on the Facebook discussion above, it’s certainly getting people’s attention. On one hand, creating these hyperlocal “micro-campaigns” is a way to make consumers from smaller markets like Albany feel as though they’re getting some actual attention from a big brand (which doesn’t happen too often. You should see the group that’s been trying for years to get a Trader Joe’s in the area). It can make it seem like larger “corporate” brands are reaching out to local communities — though the major danger here is appearing disingenuous.
Alternatively, it can make it harder for these brands to unite customers around a shared experience or campaign. Think about the Super Bowl. So much of the discussion and interaction with those brands comes from everyone across the country talking about which ads they liked and didn’t like the next day. Or think of nationwide ad campaigns that have become cultural touchstones (like the Aflac Duck). That shared sense of connection to the brand would be lost if the ad was localized.
Have you seen a large national brand localizing its campaigns so specifically? Did it work or backfire? What do you think are the pros and cons of this type of strategy?
Watch the video here:
Here’s a link to a news story with some background on the agency that produced the spots and how they were shot.