Belgian shoppers may be too polite to deal with the terror that is the future of advertising. Marketing agency Duval Guillaume came up with a brilliant strategy for their client Alfa Romeo: robotic signs that follow people whether they like it or not. Eerily persistent motorized frames would lock on to a passerby and then pursue them while proudly displaying an ad for cars that translates as "There's no getting away from an offer this good." The bots came in three different sizes and shapes but every one of them was determined to make sure their humans understood their love for Alfa Romeo. I'm not sure if teaching robots to act like creepy stalker boyfriends is the best way to sell automobiles, but it is a sure fire way to get me to laugh. Watch the video below to see some of the best moments from this brilliant advertising campaign. For those keeping score at home the official count is Belgium 0, Advertising Robots 14.
Watching this footage it's hard to say whether these signs were autonomous or remote controlled. Certainly they seem to have an almost devilish delight in frustrating their targets. Whether or not these particular signs had a human operator behind the scenes, we're certainly capable of making fully automated versions today. The question is, do we want to? Honestly, while this campaign was seemingly meant to be funny, I'm a little concerned about what will happen when other marketing agencies pursue this concept in earnest. We've already seen how digital billboards may be pursuing customers with ever more personalized ads aimed at their mobile devices as well as their eyes. Can you imagine a billboard that not only tailors its ad to your demographic, but also sends you text messages while following you around on wheels? That's a dystopia I hope we can avoid, but considering how technology and marketing work, someone's going to try it at some point. We'll have to stop being polite as Belgians and start sticking up for ourselves, or else we may be mobbed by these little robotic salesmen.
I can just see the horror film based on this concept now...
They know what you like to purchase.
They know where you like to shop.
They have something they want to tell you,
And they will never, never, stop.
Undying Advertising Robots Part IV
coming soon to a future near you
[screen capture and video credit: Duval Guillaume/Alfa Romeo]
[source: Duval Guillaume]