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Ad Infinitum

An introduction to Ad Bins and the pervasiveness of alternative advertising media.

Forget print ads. Forget TV, radio, or billboards. Who needs them if you can advertise on trash bins?

Make that Ad Bins, as Keith Clayborne calls the ad-covered receptacles he plans to place outside convenience stores. His start-up isn't alone. More than 100 alternative ad media sprang up during the '80s, says Bob Flood of ad agency DMB&B. Many don't last, but on the whole, nontraditional media are making gains. Ads now appear:

* I n stores. That means messages on aisle directories, in-store videos, carts, refrigerators, bicycle racks outside -- and taped ads mixed with music.

* Wherever groups congregate. There are ads in schools, health clubs, and bowling alleys; on call-in and on-line information services; in malls and inside golf-course holes.

* Near captive audiences. You can't escape ads on telephone hold or on airport scheduling screens. Ditto for ads in restrooms, cinemas, and phone booths, or near theme-park lines.

* Anyplace left. Don't forget ads on ATM receipts, vending machines, taxis, trucks, floppy disks, and video boxes -- as well as on mini indoor blimps or full-size glow-in-the-night models. Then there's the new Talking Poster, which senses passersby and starts a recorded message. What's next? One company is testing slogan-decorated eggs -- and another is planning ads on hot dogs.

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf

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