Today I saw the most effective piece of advertising ever on a cash machine. I rolled up to a Tesco ATM – a nice new NCR device with a video display that normally has a few rolling ads for the supermarket as you wrestle your debit card out of your pocket
and into the slot.
I was immediately confronted by a rather attractive girl’s eyes staring straight at me. This doesn’t happen very often so I paused before inserting my card. Underneath the eyes was the message “We’re closing in on undeclared income”, and I then saw the
logo from HMRC (the tax collection agency in the UK) in the top corner.
Now thoroughly intrigued, I carried on watching whilst the video rolled. The girl’s eyes looked left and right as though scanning the street; she then looked back into my eyes and the message changed to “If you’ve declared all your income you have nothing
to worry about” followed by “Please insert your card”.
They could just have easily taken the line from Dirty Harry “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
This is genius marketing, making use of a phenomenon called priming. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman talks about this brilliantly in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. He tells of an experiment in an office kitchen where workers have
to put money into an honesty box every time they make tea or coffee. Above the box was a picture of flowers; every so often this was changed for a picture of eyes looking at you. No prizes for guessing which picture drove higher contributions to the honesty
On a stand-alone video panel like the ones in some London Underground stations, this ad would be effective; but put on an ATM it is incredibly powerful.
What next? I’m waiting for a picture of our CFO to appear on my PC every time I file an expense claim.