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Sticky Situation: An American Pastime
By: Brian Keller
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It’s an idea so simple, old, and cheap that no one uses it anymore...except for millions of people.

I was riding my bike today. I was almost hit. It wasn’t a big deal. It almost happens all the time. So, the guy almost hit me and screamed at me. That was okay. I was wrong; I was riding down the street in the bike lane and I guess that my bike, and the stop sign he ran, got in the way of his texting.

The coolest part of this is that he was in a Hybrid car that had a bike rack and a bumper sticker that said “Peace.” Anyway, “I don’t know nothing about no politics,” so I’m not against Hybrid-car driving, bike-rack carrying, bumper sticker people and what their bumper stickers stand for. I just don’t want to be knocked off my bike until I heal from falling off my skateboard, which is full of skateboard stickers placed there by my son.

So, I’m thinking about the bumper stickers. Each one has a different meaning. There are liberal bumper stickers, conservative bumper stickers, plus the regular old “My other car is…” and “My kid is an honor student at” stickers. NOTE: I do hate those kids who are honor students.
 
There are other kinds of bumper stickers too, like “Plumbers do it with suction.” “Electricians do it with spark.” Etc. I think they may be talking about how good they are at sex but are cleverly using different words to make us think about their professions. I think that’s French for “double entendre”…or is double entendre French for “double entendre”?
 
What does all this have to do with advertising? It has a lot to do with advertising. It is advertising, and millions of people are using this new technology to promote services, causes, products, political affiliations, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

From Nature Magazine: “The volume of vehicles on US roads has gone up by 35% since 1987, whereas the road network has swelled by only 1%.” There you go; everyone is stuck in traffic with nothing to do but scream at each other and read bumper stickers. This is truly the new media.

Forget TV, radio, social media, and creating content for social media and other avenues like the Internet and the World Wide Web that the kids love so much. You can take bumper stickers and let them stand alone or Instagram them, pin them, Facebook them, Vimeo them, Flickr them, Reddit them, MySpace them, Google+ them, and more. You can shoot and build a film with them and then YouTube the whole mess. There are other applications as well, like putting them on bumpers.

Media Planners, Media Directors, Creatives, Account People, the always-plucky Innovation Strategists (What is an Innovation Strategist?), etc. can make bumper stickers do double duty by forgoing expensive research and focus groups to gather demographics. See below.
 
Beyond Madison Avenue’s Inaugural "Guess the Demographic from the Bumper Sticker" Contest 

1. Liberal or Conservative? — “Fight The Rich, Not Their War.”
2. Liberal or Conservative? — “If guns kill people, pencils misspell words.”
3. Liberal or Conservative? — “God, Family, Country.”
4. Liberal or Conservative? — “Practice Random Acts Of Kindness.”
5 Liberal or Conservative —“Silly Liberals, paychecks are for workers.” (Look for the clue in the text.)
6. Liberal or Conservative — “It’s not class warfare until we fight back.”
7. Liberal or Conservative — “At least the war on the middle class is going well.” (This one could be a trick question.)
 
8. 18–34 or not? — “Caution: Grumpy Old Man On Board.”
9. 18–34 or not? — “40 is the new 20.”
10. 18–34 or not? — “ Question Everything.” (Trick Question; everyone questions everything until you get older. Pull up to the vehicle. Guess the age of the driver. Determine if it’s just a stuck-on old bumper sticker or someone in your beloved demographic who is not bitter and disillusioned. Yet.
 
Ask out to the office picnic or not? — “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.”
 
Ask out to the office picnic or not? — “I’m Blonde and I vote.”
 
Get the auto make and mode, cross reference it with the type, and get a good guess as to who is driving what.
 
And yes, there are places that are doing quite well where you can buy or make:           
  1. Obama Bumper Stickers
  2. Anti-Obama Bumper Stickers
  3. Custom Bumper Stickers
  4. Political Bumper Stickers
  5. Cool Bumper Stickers
  6. Funny Bumper Stickers
  7. Humorous Bumper Stickers (In case you just want to seem clever and not hysterically funny)
  8. Love Bumper Stickers
  9. Coexist Bumper Stickers
  10. Life Bumper Stickers
  11. Tea Party Bumper Stickers
  12. People Who Like Tea Bumper Stickers
  13. Pro-Mitt Romney Bumper Stickers
  14. Anti-Mitt Romney Bumper Stickers
I saw the website for this information on a bumper sticker.
 
Adweek, in June 2011, reported that according to TargetCast tcm, the average price of a 30-second spot in the first quarter of 2011 was $108,956.  
 
Bumper sticker prices are $2–5.
 
I saw over 75 cars with bumper stickers today that had something political on them. That’s not counting the “My Kid’s an honor student at ___________.” This bumper sticker will help get him beat up by normal kids’ bumper stickers.

Add up the number of stickers I saw without really trying, and then expand on it and see how much citizens are spending on bumper stickers. Make the buy now.
 
Here are the first two from my summer collection, available now:

If you vote, you’re part of the problem.
My other car doesn’t have a bumper sticker.
 
The main thrust of this piece is to show how much diversity drives right by you every day. If you have a pitch coming up or an article that’s due and you have no idea what to do and it’s the last minute, get off the browser and take a ride in your car. You may get an idea.


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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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