Access Restricted

Quick Read: Want to generate footfall or demand? Sometimes all it could take is a board saying “Access Restricted”.

Iceland is renowned for its fairytale landscapes, waterfalls and dancing midnight lights. But of all the places, an unusual site has become one of its most talked about destinations – a site of a plane crash. 

Sólheimasandur beach in Iceland is a desolate site, but for the mangled remains of a US Navy’s C-117 aircraft. It was in November 1973 that the aircraft crashed at the site with the crew onboard having miraculously survived.

After the crash, the U.S. military removed everything that was salvageable in the aircraft and left behind the 10,000 pound shell by the beach. For over four decades since then nothing much happened around it.

The landowners of the site almost forgot about it and were perfectly content to let time and nature slowly eat away at the twisted wreck.

Iceland Plane Crash

(Photo Credit: Eliot Stein. Source)

But steadily over the years it has become a not so well kept secret among photographers – who lent it an extra air of surrealism, by way of their documentaries and photographs.

In recent times it came to be used as a location for destination weddings.  Not to be left behind Bollywood even managed to get Shah Rukh Khan to lean backwards, spread his arms while not forgetting to romance Kajol over its fuselage!


(Still from the song in Dilwale)

Hell even Justin Bieber skateboarded on the plane’s roof in a music video in November 2015.

Expectedly it led to a steady increase in visitors to the site and got people into driving all over the place with little consideration about the property around. So in March 2016 the landowners’ of the site decisively put up signs banning all access to the area. 

…and then things started to go crazy!

Google Search Trends - Iceland Plane Crash Site

(Google Trends showing a spike in searches for the crash site in March 2016)

All it took was a “No Entry” sign.

Now, hundreds of people every day are reportedly following GPS coordinates to a remote, unmarked gate on the side of the road and trekking four kilometers through a barren lava desert to try their chances at seeing the plane’s twisted remains.

How Hitchcock Got People To See “Psycho”

When Psycho hit theaters, critics weren’t given private screenings. Instead Hitchcock created buzz for the film by exerting an unusual degree of directorial control over the viewing experience of the audience.

Accordingly the showings of the film began on a tightly-controlled schedule in theatres in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.  And a firm “no late admission” policy was put in place.


(A standee to announce No Late Admission policy for Psycho. Source)

Theatre managers initially balked at the idea, fearing financial losses. But Hitchcock had his way.

And he was right.

Long lines formed outside the theaters, pulled even more people in and Psycho went on to enjoy critical and commercial success.

Sydney Opera House says “Come On In”

Sydney Opera House is the most Instagrammed destination in Australia.

The challenge:  Only 1% of those who upload a photo ever go inside.

Sydney Opera House found who these people were, recorded personalised invitation videos on the fly, and got them to step in to experience the Opera House from inside with exclusive access and perks.

See the case study video here

While it is definitely a smart intervention that effectively leverages relevant consumer touch points on the fly to get people to step inside, I wonder if the management of the Sydney Opera house had considered the contra idea.

…that of putting up a sign saying “Access Restricted”.

(Featured Image: Sólheimasandur plane crash site by Eric Cheng. Source)

Wash Your Bill + Space For Rent

Sampling and Coupons.

Let’s start with ‘sampling’ – the initiative through which marketers offer consumers an opportunity to try out their product/service for free or for a nominal charge, so that they get a first hand experience and thereby form an opinion about the offering. The philosophy? Trying IS believing. calls this TRYVERTISING. Everyone of us have at some point or other been offered free samples or a chance to try out something for free. But how many of those do we remember? How many of those experiences have left an impression on us and carved a niche for themselves in our mind?

As with all other marketing executions, the key challenge for sampling is to stand out as a memorable message delivered through a touch point that is innovative, relevant and remarkable (as in ‘Remarkable’ = Anything that is worth making a remark about). Though it sounds like an obvious statement to make, identifying and executing sampling through touch points that are relevant (to the target consumer) can become an uphill task as we descend down the ‘ladder of involvement’. In other words, while a bedroom furniture store’s idea of offering customers nap for free, may not sound like a ingenuous mattress sampling idea, I would think that it requires a good deal of ingenuity to think of innovative, distinct and relevant sampling avenues for low involvement product categories.

Take for example, the category of Dish Washing Sponges. How do you introduce them to a new demographic like the Youth? How do you deal with the challenge of being ‘innovative’ and ‘remarkable’ when you speak about something as boring/avoidable as Dish Washing to a segment of consumers who are as ‘challenging’ as the Youth? 3M’s Scotch Brite did it in Brazil. The Wash Your Bill Campaign. See the video for all details.

A fun way of reaching out to a new demographic, through touch points and instances that are remarkable  and innovative. It has all elements to be sticky. Surprises you, delights you, compels you to share the experience, and makes you speak about it. The following screen shot says it all about the potential of this.

A great example of sampling executed in a cool way!

Now let’s get to ‘coupons’.

How do you make coupons sound serious? Like serious money? By making it sound as a real business deal, so that the consumers have a ‘real’ stake in the equation. IKEA is known to be ‘Out of the Box’ when it comes to its marketing. Recently, in Australia it has come up with, what I think is a fantastic campaign called ‘Space for Rent’. Executed by 303Lowe, this campaign spans the entire 360 spectrum of touch points to reach out and target the consumers that are willing to ‘rent out some space for IKEA’.

Hang on..did I say consumers renting out space for IKEA and getting paid in return? Indeed. Watch the video here.

What I loved is the sheer genius of the solution. It smartly repurposes the whole question and turns it around into an almost irresistible offer. Kudos to the team behind it!

Another innovative ‘couponing’ example is the recent emart’s 3D QR code campaign to generate traffic during the non peak hours in Seoul. See the video here.

What I liked about this campaign is that it almost creates a sense of urgency, owing to the 60 mins time window of 12-1PM when the Sun just about helps you get a QR code out of those strategically placed installations. And thereby spurs you and entices you to take action.

Nice finds for the week.

And you thought ‘sampling’ and ‘coupons’ were dirty cheap words?