Ballooning Expectations – A Brilliant or Bewildering Marketing Tactic?

Early this morning I took our new puppy for a walk in the neighborhood.  Overnight, something had changed. The neighborhood looked different. Balloon on Car MirrorMore colorful. More active somehow. Something was blowing in the wind.

That something was a balloon. Or, to be more accurate, a whole collection of balloons. Red balloons were festooned all over the place, tied with red ribbon onto the side-mirrors of cars and onto gates and fences.

Balloon on Beetle Car







On closer inspection, it was clear that these balloons were balloons with a purpose. Printed on each was the name of the local mall, along with a message about a sale taking place over the next few days.

We’re not used to getting marketing messages this way. It was clearly supposed to be an attention-getter and it worked. It really worked.

I’m pretty sure that every person in our neighborhood knows about the sale now. The balloons saw to that.

Mission accomplished.

So that’s great, right? Balloons might be something to think about for your own marketing campaigns.

Think twice.

While the balloons were very successful at grabbing attention, there were also a few issues with them.

Issue 1:  Many of the balloons were tied on very tightly, causing some people to drive away with the balloons still attached to their cars, for instance.  Great, you may think, traveling balloons can deliver the marketing message further afield. Not so great, actually, for the potentially aggravated and annoyed car owners who couldn’t see where they were going.

Balloon Obstructing View of Car







Issue 2: Some of the balloons were not tied on tightly enough and escaped. A few floated skyward, but several popped and ended up littering the sidewalks and causing a clear and present danger to puppies and other animals in their path.

Balloon and Puppy







So what do you think? Is this an example of marketing brilliance, or a potentially damaging marketing accident waiting to happen?

Add your thoughts below.

7 Responses to Ballooning Expectations – A Brilliant or Bewildering Marketing Tactic?

  1. Well, I can see how those would attract attention, but all of mine would be negative. I would NEVER shop at the place, and I’d be tempted to collect as many of the balloons as I could, go to the establishment, and then dump their trash right where it belongs.

    I don’t think ANYONE has the right to put flyers under my wipers, tie balloons to my vehicle or otherwise leave their trash in my space.

    If I am obligated to allow people to opt into an e-mail that can be deleted or blocked with nothing more than a mouse click, how in the world is it okay for some physical business to trespass, vandalize, and litter on other’s property?

    I give this marketing campaign an F.

  2. As said before, as a marketing idea it did the job, just that whoever did it didn’t think it out enough. What’s the borderline that starts to become a nuisance.

  3. very effective indeed ! clever idea
    and my kids had so much fun collecting them from the neighbors:-)

  4. Hi Debbie,

    I used to live in California, which is very environmentally aware, and a lot of people would take issue with the ribbon and latex harming wildlife (especially marine wildlife), along with the worldwide helium shortage. That said, balloons are a lot of fun! I can see how this would be an effective campaign, but I can also see how people would be put off, especially if it is a driving hazard.

  5. I not as negative as Shawn, but my thoughts are along the same sentiments…

    What gives them the right to put balloons on people’s private property?

    The other issues you raise point out to legal liabilities…

    Now…if they wanted to hire some folks to give out the balloons (maybe with some discount coupons? Maybe with an incentive for the recipient to do something with the balloon…”Hey, we can tie this onto your car if you’d like…we’ll give you this extra coupon if you do so.” Or give them to kids to take to their parents?)

    As for not being thought completely through: such a thing does not exist…you can only go so far before you reach the law of diminishing returns. That said, most folks get so excited about the possibilities, the “downer” of downside risk planning frequently gets very short shrift, if considered at all.

    Thanks for the great post, Debbie!

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