360º Marketing and the Critical Final Medium for Closing the Sale: Product Design

Yesterday, I spoke on a panel hosted by the New York Festivals (check out their content-laden, madly deep and relevant website here) at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.  It was great fun to join the ever charming and thoughtful Blake Ebel of Factory Design Labs, the deeply digitally-credentialed Jason Hehman of Domani Studios, and the redoubtably-savvy Derek Robson of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners as we tried to make some sense of coordinating our multi-platformed modern world with 360º marketing.

Preparing this presentation made me really consider how many touchpoints brands have with consumers these days, and how the retail environment fills a vital role for brands. When someone is at the moment of purchase, the wrong package or the wrong design can cripple a brand’s sale-closing rate.

Dennis Ryan, OLSON, AdvertisingWith that thought top of mind, I couldn’t help noticing how it played out among the Siren-like flash of Las Vegas’ slot machines.  After all, in a sea of slots, all side-by-side and roughly the same size, what makes people choose one machine rather than another?

Like anything else, it’s the brand promise, staring them in the face, right above the little slot where they drop their coins…

Take this hamfistedly-obvious charmer: “Triple Cash.”  If that’s not a relevant brand promise, I don’t know what is. Okay, so it’s not so much a ‘promise’ as a ‘pipe dream’ but why split hairs?  This straightforward design respects it’s market by emphasizing a strong ROI for your quarters.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OLSONOf course the language of greed and desire is universal, spanning countries and cultures to bring all of us together with the esperanto of personal gain. Much has been made in this country of the rising importance and buying power of the Hispanic market.  The design for this machine leverages that, broadcasting its message in Spanglish; both Hispanics and Anglos alike grasp the universal promise of easy money. “Mucho Dinero” you suggest? “Muy bueno!” is my answer.  “Muy, muy bueno” indeed…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OLSONAs anyone who’s ever watched casino advertising knows, gambling projects a very sexy image; a treasure trove of sleek, moist-lipped promises, all gloss and style. That has nothing to do with the reality of the slot machine world; the robotic, thousand-mile stares of most everyday practitioners bear little resemblance to their counterparts in casino ads. Still, that sleek imagery more than explains this little gem and the sassy, sexy promise of the always welcome Wild Cherry…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OLSONDuring my short stay in Sin City, I saw slots featuring dogs and cats, movies and television shows, real and fictional celebrities; in short, slot machine designs cover every demographic imaginable.  If you follow the music business, you know how big the country music genre is and when it comes to country legends, few surpass the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers. This machine pictures Kenny at the peak of his artistic prowess, long before he succumbed to his plastic surgery habit…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OLSONOf course, context always plays a role in purchase decisions; that’s what the big minds in our business call ‘aperture.’  Brands that intersect with their audience right at the moment the consumer is looking for them earn special consideration and appreciation. Somebody at the slot machine company must have realized that because they quite cleverly dreamed up this “Frequent Flyer” design, perfect for its location in D terminal at McCarran Airport.  Note how it portrays their flight attendant as aggressively sassy; it’s like they knew this travel professional would have to compete among Las Vegas’ parade of pulchritude…

Dennis Ryan, OLSON, AdvertisingOverall, it’s an impressive line up of distracting, money-extracting devices, but there’s always an outlier, always something that just doesn’t quite fit. In the case of slot machine designs, this one stands out as a rather aggressive swing and miss.  “Cops and Donuts”? Really?  With “Donut Eating Bonus for Three on a Line”? Wow, I’m sure law enforcement professionals will love that portrayal. I can only imagine the cavalcade of nickels raining through that magical slot.

But in the end, that is the promise of Las Vegas.  The promise of something better, something beyond your imagination, waiting right there, on the other side of that next spin, that next bet.

Thank god I got out of there without trashing my credit.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, OLSON





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