Advertising in Detroit, Importance of Reticular Activating System

Me and my friends drove down to Detroit last weekend to visit a really good authentic Mexican Taco place, on the way down we saw many billboards near the highway and we noted that most of them did not look very professional at all. They were all using pretty generic messages and fonts, with unappealing images. Billboards aren’t free so why bother with them if you’re not at least going to put in the effort to make them pop and look pretty?

As many of you know I took advertising class at MSU and we designed many billboards for various projects we did. We saw many funny billboards that were designed to capture people’s attention, and we’ve seen many generic bland ones, and all the studies showed that the peculiar billboards performed better than the generic ones, is that a surprise?

What was also interesting was that if billboards contained some sort of prop other than the print, it performed up to %35 better. This goes with the saying that in order to succeed in business you have to be different. Just like most advertising, people have built unconscious way to filter them out of our awareness. This Tony Robbins likes to call our RAS which stand for our Reticular Activation System, it points to the part of our brain that brings things into our conscious attention or not. This is often happening on an unconscious level so most are not aware of it.

But as great advertisers we often have to deal with people’s unconscious and begin to crack the code of how to not only get attention but to keep it and implement the company into their subconscious so that it enters their RAS therefore they begin to see it next time they enter a store.

This is the whole idea of building brand awareness and it can make the difference in untold millions of dollars in annual revenue. Why do you think Coca Cola and Pepsi continue to advertise on a massive scale? Because they know that the lifeline of their business is brand awareness or holding attention of the mass, by keeping their logo or brand inside people’s to RAS.

It’s almost as if all the companies are battling to enter people’s RAS, so when these billboards are bland and look like any other thousands of billboards that they have seen in their entire lives, then it gets scanned out and no one ever pays attention to it for even a second.

As advertisers we have to broaden the scope of what it takes to actually produce effects in people because at the end of the day, advertising can be summed up in one word and that’s:



And influence is power, and this power is in regards to the fact that you are not only competing against other advertisers in any given time but you are competing against all of the noise out there of daily lives from family, relation, TV shows, movies, extra circular activities and not to mention the millions of advertising they’ve seen ever since they were young children. Your ad has to out compete against all of those things and snatch the person’s attention for brief few seconds where the message and advertisers’s intent gets accepted in their subconscious. This focus of attention is power because the subconscious becomes accepting of the message at hand. What is the implication of application of this knowledge for all the local businesses out there like the wedding industry.

And that my friends is key to advertising anywhere and certainly on Billboards. Detroit advertisers need to step up their game.