Every advertiser’s dream is to have a captive audience for his message, but finding folks to sit still for that message is more challenging than ever in our increasingly mobile and unfocused world. But some creative thinkers have been remarkably successful at finding a niche to get their message across without clutter or competition. You can too. 

It would be a sweet dream indeed, now that Osama bin Laden is 20,000 leagues under the sea that just maybe, security can be relaxed for people flying at 35,000 feet. Anyone who has breathed a sigh of relief after passing through the pervasive airport security checks of the past 10 years can relate to that.

One of the most annoying aspects of the security checks is when you have to take off your belt, shoes, hat, keys, coins, phone(s), coat and 72 other items into undersized bins, where at best, they get crushed and wrinkled, and at worst get mixed up with those of our fellow travelers.

Yet Americans have this uncanny knack of making the most of adversity. Just ask Joe Ambrefe. Before we hear Joe’s story, I want to give a yasher koach to my friend Mendy Hirth for bringing this item to my attention, and give thanks to a sharp CNN journalist, Bob Greene, for digging up a story when most fellow travelers were digging into clothing piles to find their shoes.

Stuck on line at Chicago’s Midway International Airport, Greene grabbed a plastic bin to dutifully load his carry-on items for inspection. Something caught his attention as he was dropping his shoes in the bin: at the bottom of a bin was a colorful advertisement for an online merchant. To make sure he wasn’t jet-lagged and seeing things, Greene examined a few other empty bins and, lo and behold, each one had a different ad laminated across the bottom of the bins.

“I found myself shaking my head in grudging admiration,” wrote Greene. “While the rest of us were standing in those lines stewing over what the world has come to, one person among us saw a potential moneymaking opportunity just waiting to be snapped up.”

This brings us back to Joe Ambrefe, founder and CEO of Florida’s SecurityPoint Media. A frequent flyer, Joe figured out that passengers passing through security checks were a captive audience and that created an advertising opportunity!

Lest you think that pitching a product or service to surly people on airport security lines is a lost cause, major advertisers such as Sony, Microsoft, Honda, Charles Schwab, and even Amtrak have bought into Joe’s idea. Their ads grace the bottoms of security bins in 24 major US airports.

Joe Ambrefe had it all figured out, and he even keeps the original napkin on which he wrote this idea, while waiting on line in an airport. “Here is a contained area,” Joe told CNN. “Air travelers are a very desirable demographic. It’s a fantastic opportunity to speak to them.” The advertisements in the plastic bins, he says, “can humanize the experience. They can put a smile on someone’s face.” Especially on Joe’s for the money he’s making off this idea. Besides owning the security bin concession at those 24 airports, he recently told the St. Petersburg Times his goal is to add 20 more airports in the next 20 months. Talk about flying high.

The lesson here for us is how advertising, broken down into its simplest component, is all about reaching your target market. Your message has to be captivating and it definitely helps to have a captive audience, but when it comes to placement, think out of the box and you might find cash tumbling into your bin!

This Week’s Bottom Line Action Step: Sometimes you can reach your target audience in the least likely of places. Keep a pen and a napkin (or iPad, etc.) handy for when the inspiration comes! 

Sign-up for our monthly emails!

We promise your inbox won’t regret this! Sign-up for engaging and informative business content to help your business scale and thrive!