Companies often design special ad campaigns for New York City that comment on city life in a glib tone, such as Diet Coke hailing the kinds of people moving to the city, Seamless joking about your apartment not having silver wear, and FlatRate parodying hipsters in Williamsburg.
Recently, Boxed, a wholesale delivery startup, took it to new extremes with a set of subway ads that you will only get if you’ve seen other New York subway ads.
One ad references the ubiquitous and controversial Venmo ads that featured a random software engineer named Lucas and said things like “Lucas has dreams” and “Lucas likes to dance” as well as “Lucas uses Venmo,” which debuted earlier this year. As strange as Venmo’s ads were, the Boxed ad will read as a total non sequitur except to frequent subway riders:
Boxed also has an ad referencing the legendarily weird subway ads from dermatologist Dr Zizmor, which is clearly what the company had in mind with “Dr. Savezmore”:
How did Boxed decide on such a meta campaign and do it within months of Venmo’s Lucas ads? Boxed responded to our questions over email:
Why did Boxed.com decide to reference other subway ads in their campaign?
BOXED: As an innovative, mobile-only commerce company that is a free-to-use warehouse club for people who don’t have the time, means and patience, Boxed realised the importance of reacting to what’s relevant today. For subway riders, Lucas and Dr. Saveszmore are extremely recognisable names to them and names that they stare at on long commutes to work every day. We decided to take advantage of this and utilise these popular ads in our own campaign.
How did the campaign come to fruition so quickly?
BOXED: The entire campaign came together in just a matter of days. The Boxed team had few meetings that sparked dozens of ideas and the more we bounced ideas off of each other, we knew we were on to something. We had a keen understanding of what would work and what would not. It was extremely important for us to not sound arrogant or mean-spirited. We worked hard to strike the perfect balance between getting noticed and looking like the friendly shopping alternative that we are, while still having our creative tone come across too.”
Has the campaign received a positive response?
BOXED: Yes, we have received great feedback from people telling us how clever they think our ads are — it did get your attention! The ads are simple, yet effective, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve. We want consumers to know that we are here for them, understand their busy lifestyles and can provide convenience and options. We’ve also received an influx of tweets from people sending us pictures of their delivery and telling us how they signed up for Boxed right after seeing our ads on the subway.
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