A couple of weekends ago I spent a very pleasant Saturday afternoon and evening in Liverpool. A couple of decades ago, I’m not sure I would recommend that. But these days – the bars, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife are really vibrant. City planners have redeveloped the run down areas and re-sited university student accommodation to bring a creative, entrepreneurial population into the centre.
In one of the crowded pubs, I found an everyday object that really struck me as a milestone of our digital times.
Americans would usually call this a coaster. I prefer the British English term beer mat – less elegant but more functionally descriptive. It’s a cardboard mat that soaks up beer spills, and they are also commonly used as an advertising surface. Here’s what this one is doing:
- Advertising a mouth spray to relieve nicotine cravings
- To help you give up – not cigarettes.. but vaping
- With a QR code to aim your phone camera at
- To order from a 30 minute grocery delivery bike service called Gettir (“get here”).
Wow. A decade ago vaping was hardly a thing at all – for example Juul wasn’t founded until 2015. Back then, QR codes were something I only saw Japanese consumers using and grocery m-commerce was still niche – let alone the instant-gratification fast bike services. Such a high rate of digitally enabled change in our consumer lives is dizzying. But there remains an unchanging analogue anchor to keep us grounded – the beermat.
Even in a digital world, some traditional advertising media works. That’s why Don and I created a beermat to celebrate our new book about Machine Customers – the next chapter in digital advancement. Whether its tea, coffee, beer or something else – drinkers are thinkers. Cheers!
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