Marketing Route 66 Style

Posted in Mobile by Jon Payne

As Winston Churchill said, the UK and USA are two nations separated by a common language. On a recent road trip across the USA we followed Route 66 from Illinois to Arizona’s western edge and along the way I noticed how much the marketing vernacular was the same...but different.

Tall Signs

Route 66 - Tall Sign

Sign height = foot traffic, it seems. This motor museum was visible from pretty much anywhere in town and it’s a rule that the height of the Waffle House sign is inversely proportional to the number of teeth the waitress who’ll serve you displays.

Brand Messaging Everywhere

Denny's mugs are on message

Something we could learn from the American corporate marketer is to put your brand messages wherever you can, so long as it doesn't diminish the experience of the customer. Denny’s does this well. A bit like its Coke Floats.

Faking it ≠ making it

Everything brand new? Not true.

Something that should be avoided is to fake till you make it, which did seem to be quite common. In this example, this poster is situated in the reception of the Microtel just off I-40 in Gallup, New Mexico and Microtel President Mike Leven tells us everything in this motel is brand new. Then we find that while the beds are comfortable (and possibly new), the phone isn’t even from this decade. Mike? Commissioner Gordon’s phone from the 60’s isn’t new, it’s not vintage shabby chic either. It’s shit, like the rest of the décor in the room and the breakfast you provided.

Mascots Rule

Smokey Bear

American consumers love a mascot, be it Ronald McDonald, the Pilsbury Doughboy or that weird peanut in a top hat. The best one is surely Smokey Bear who tells us “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”. OK Smokes, but what about that kid in the hoodie with the matches…? Surely he can prevent them too?

Word Play Prevails

Retail poetry on sign

Small town America like “poem” based adverts

And alliteration. They love that. It’s not P.. P.. P.. Pick Up A Penguin, but it seemed to work. Fleeces flew and profits grew.

Retail Alliteration

Small Is Beautiful. Big Is Better.

Stoutsville - population 36

Even in America, size isn’t everything... Although, mostly it is.

Big John Groceries

Aural Stimulation Is Effective

From adverts on “in store” radio stations (even when the store is barely big enough to swing a cat in) to speaking petrol pumps, the American marketer knows when your audience is captive, sell them more stuff! Like pop tarts.

The "Google Now" App Makes Tourism Easy

Google Now Screenshot - Nearby AttractionsI couldn't post about marketing without bringing it back to online, could I? I was travelling so I used my phone a lot to check routes… Google Now (the real time “personal assistant” from Google for Android / iOS) delivers information before you search for it. In addition to the current time (useful since we crossed time zones 4 times), currency exchange rate / calculator (for the local currency vs your home) and weather (again, local and home) Google Now also showed Local Attractions. It pulls the business’s data from Google Places for Business / Google+ Local. Clicking one takes you through to either Google Maps for directions or to the Google+ Local page for that business.

On the right are the activities it gave me for Dallas, Texas

REMEMBER – NO SEARCH WAS NEEDED, GOOGLE JUST KNEW WHERE I WAS AND THAT I WAS A TOURIST. This means that if you are in the travel or leisure industries, you need to get your Google Places / Google+ Local listings correct, consistent and collecting reviews as soon as possible. If I can see this on my trusty old Samsung Galaxy S2 (running the super cool Cyanogen Mod version of Android 4.2) but once we're all wearing Google Glass or watches or whatever, this will become ubiquitous.

Gotta Love The Land Of The Free

It was a truly great trip, I met some lovely people (very few of them visibly armed) and was once again blown away by the friendliness and hospitality of pretty much everyone I encountered. This trip reminded me that much like its inhabitants, small town America can be kitsch, cool, vast and wonderful.

Thomas Drug Co building, Thomas, OK




All the photos I took are on the Noisy Little Monkey Flickr account. Feel free to use them if you like them! They're offered under the creative commons licence so please give us attribution by linking back here.

Jon Payne
Jon Payne

Founder and Technical Director of Noisy Little Monkey, Jon blogs about SEO and digital marketing strategy.

Meet Jon Payne

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