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If you stayed at any of the Atlanta hotels near Supercomm 2001 last week, it's likely that someone snuck into your room while you weren't there and placed various forms of marketing collateral all over your room.

Yes, that's right — ads slapped right on the bathroom mirror!

Several convention delegates griped about two specific marketing-related incidents at this year's show. The first was an issue of tele.com, a print magazine (how very outré), which was placed in the middle of some hotel beds, along with a specially branded tin of mints.

Some attendees complained that it was creepy knowing that someone had been in their room strategically arranging their reading material. That's the Gideon Society's job.

Another incident involved a large Marconi Communications PLC (Nasdaq/London: MONI) advertisement that was stuck right in the middle of the bathroom mirror. Again, very creepy. How can a conventioneer rest easy knowing that someone's been slinking around in the bathroom and, quite possibly, trying on his or her underwear?

The point here is that in the constant one-upmanship of trade show marketing and advertising, optical networking vendors are going from flashy and garish to just plain intrusive. Why, for instance, would someone want to return to their hotel room after dinner to find a bag of ten or so industry magazines hanging on their door? Does anyone out on a company junket, in a hotel with pay-per-view movies, really read that much?

Over the years, conventioneers have been subjected to branded room keys, logo'd coffee cup sleeves, beverage napkins, and other items. Those things are fine because they're still useful and necessary, even if covered in logos.

Other things, such as Nortel Networks Corp.'s (NYSE/Toronto: NT) Elton John concert and private party, are thrilling and enjoyable, but hard to justify. Where does Nortel get off telling thousands of people that it can't afford to employ them but somehow it can afford to hire an entertainer who collects luxury cars like some people collect baseball cards? Granted, Nortel probably hired Mr. John eons before the economy hit the skids, but it just goes to show that even in good times firms ought to think twice about spending lavishly.

It's hard to believe that convention marketing will get better before it gets worse. You can bet that some firms, even during an energy crisis, will opt to hire billboard trucks that drive around a trade show site at the next big industry confab in California.

In the race to be remembered, here are some sponsorship items we expect to see at Supercomm next year:

  • Advertisement messages on fast-food restaurant drive-thru speakers, sponsored by Coherent Inc. (Nasdaq: COHR)
  • A carnival-style dunking booth, sponsored by Lucent Technologies Inc.'s (NYSE: LU) investors, who, by now, have learned to laugh when they see things go underwater
  • Novelty toupees, sponsored by Gluon Networks
  • Privately labeled drinking water, sponsored by Geyser Networks Inc.
  • Sugar-coated chocolate cookies, sponsored by Hyperchip Inc.
  • Coupons for a free tanning salon visit, sponsored by Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK)
  • Shoplifting lessons, sponsored by Rapid5 Networks
  • Branded toilet paper touting Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) IP services (Get it? I-P?)
    Okay, that's enough. Our hope is not that the industry retreats from its outrageous marketing stunts and parties. We know that won’t happen. Instead, we hope that marketers put as much thought into holding our attention as they do into getting it.

    And, please, stay out of our hotel rooms.

    - Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
  • rafaelg 12/4/2012 | 8:14:52 PM
    re: Your Ad Here Juniper bath bubbles...
    grasshopper 12/4/2012 | 8:10:44 PM
    re: Your Ad Here At OFC one such marketer came into my room while I was IN THE SHOWER with the bathroom door open! No knock or anything. When I came out I found a brochure on the nightstand. While I was away during the day half a dozen things appeared in the room; magazines, stickers on the mirrors, brochures on the tables. At least leave me a bottle of wine!
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