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Advertising is everywhere: on matchboxes, on the sides of buses and cabs, on the Internet. But there’s one environment that’s totally free of advertising: the PowerPoint presentation.
A coffee shop chain in the Netherlands called CoffeeCompany has now encroached on one of the last advertising-free bastions through a simple but ingenious offer. Students who agree to add one of CoffeeCompany’s slides to their PowerPoint presentation are rewarded with a free cup of coffee.
The slides carry messages such as “I got free coffee to put this slide in my presentation” and “This next slide took me four cups of coffee to write”. Each slide carries the company’s logo and the website address www.freecoffee4students.nl.
All students have to do to qualify for the offer is upload to that website a photo or video of themselves showing the slide in class.
Now, some might see all this as a cynical marketing ploy by another voracious company, turning students into eager brand ambassadors and PowerPoint presentations into opportunities for ambient marketing.
There is some element of truth in that, perhaps. On the other hand, most advertising is just directed at us – from the side of a bus or a cab, for example – and there’s nothing in it for us. The intriguing thing about this offer is that the students are getting something out of the campaign. They are selling space on their presentations and profiting from it as a result.
I believe this trend will quickly spread beyond the Netherlands into other countries, and to other products and services. The students in this example got free coffee, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for other incentives.
People don’t seem to mind the odd quirky slide in a presentation. It can even help to break it up and make it more engaging.
Of course, it’s important not to go too far with this kind of thing. I was once the web editor of a very worthy organisation that sold inspirational books and training courses. Not surprisingly, they decided to email their customer database with special offers. Unfortunately their over-zealous sales manager upped the frequency of these emails so much that people started to unsubscribe themselves. It was also clear that some others were getting pretty disgruntled by the bombardment.
Less is more – and as that sales manager found, more can be less. But there’s a big difference between a weighty email arriving in your inbox every few days and a single, quite witty slide in a long and serious presentation.
There’s definitely an aspect of entrepreneurialism here. More enterprising students might already be thinking about which corporations to approach. I can see the slides now: “I wrote this presentation on a quarterpounder cheeseburger.” “A presentation a day helps me work, rest and play.”
And what I say is, if audiences like it, students profit from it and companies gain from it, why not?
By David Vickery