Everywhere but Nowhere: The Downside of Ubiquity

There are more Henry Moore sculptures in public spaces and museums than New York actors who have appeared on “Law and Order.”

And that’s not a good thing, according to an article penned by Maev Kennedy of Britain’s Guardian newspaper, who reports that Moore “has become so ubiquitous as to become near invisible.”

The piece—which corresponds to a Moore retrospective at Tate Britain—is not only an excellent article, it is an excellent reminder for marketers that everywhere can sometimes be nowhere.

Consider the fate of Verizon’s “can you hear me now?” guy—one of the most familiar advertising icons of last decade. But that also made him one of the most ignorable, and Verizon replaced him with a map.

I’m not saying that Unilever should sack the Snuggle Bear or that Pillsbury should show the Dough Boy the door. But advertisers need to keep finding ways to keep those icons popping fresh—and relevant to consumers. 

Familiarity may not always breed contempt. But it can often lead to indifference. Perhaps that can be marketing’s version of Moore’s Law.

Images: (top left) Beth M527; (bottom right) Enric Archivell. Both (cc) some rights reserved. The “Verizon guy” is © Verizon Communications.