12 September 2007

The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game: Rasika Fernandes, JWT Planning, Delhi

Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Dr. Seuss, Oh The Place’s You’ll Go

Waiting. It’s something we hate to do but can’t evade.

But, from a marketer’s perspective, those precious seconds of doing nothing, of staring into oblivion, offers us a priceless opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with the reason for our being - Our Consumer.

That’s where the concept of Wait Marketing, propagated by Professor Diana Derval comes in.
Wait Marketing is about avoiding the need to be intrusive and bothering people when they are busy or enjoying themselves and communicating with them only and only when they are available and open to having a conversation with you.

It’s about finding a good place and time to communicate with people who might be receptive to what you have to say, because they have nothing better to do! That place and time is the moment of ‘waiting’. Waiting in a queue, waiting for your movie to begin, waiting in the doctor’s room, waiting for your bus, waiting when you’re downloading from the Internet…

Wait Marketing is people friendly and more effective because instead of being an intrusion in people’s lives, we try and find ways to enhance the dull moment of waiting by connecting with people in interesting, un-expected ways about things that interest them.

Studies published by independent advertising organisations, in Europe and in the US, confirm that consumers are at least 2 times more receptive while they are waiting. This is linked to the fact that advertising is in that particular context welcome. A TV ad, for instance, will be memorised by 17% of the consumers if they watch it on their TV screen at home. The same ad will be remembered by 27% of consumers if they see it while they are in the doctor’s waiting room.

A great example of Wait Marketing is that of MSNBC.com who launched a movie theater version of their web based game, called NewsBreaker where MSNBC.com headlines float to the bottom of the theatre screen and when players hit 25 of the headlines with their paddle, they gain another life.

In the theater version, instead of a single player moving a paddle left and right with a keyboard, the entire audience controlled the paddle together, moving it around by waving their arms.
A motion-sensitive camera in the front of the theater measured how the audience was moving its arms. The camera then translated that collective motion to an onscreen paddle that players used to bounce a ball back up to the top of the screen to knock out blocks. In effect, the audience became the joystick!

The game was being run in place of the advertisements that usually play before film previews and was received with much enthusiasm because it meaningfully engaged an otherwise waiting audience.
Your audience is waiting to be wooed! What are you waiting for?

For more information and examples on wait marketing visit

P.S. On the flip side,surely there is a brand promise in this itself: “you don’t have to wait”.Here’s Seinfeld again, frustrated at a restaurant, waiting for a table.


  1. http://www.traffik.com.au/. has interesting cases

  2. Hi

    Very interesting that you brought up about this technique. But i guess we have all always had this in our 'Indian' science. I guess examples of these are the carvings, painting that we see have in places of worship. I think we have long used it except for propagating more serious cultural and life values. It would be interesting if we could study these and find some evidence of this from our heritage.

  3. That's a really interesting angle, hadn't thought of it quite that way. Would the Bhagavad Gita itself, delivered while WAITING for the war to start be an example?!! On the flip side, to find even the walls of an aerobridge plastered with advertising messages while waiting to deplane an aircraft is just too intrusive, don't you think. It's like there is no repite from it at all. The other day I found the small kumkum paper packet in a temple branded - didn't know whether to exclaim at the ingenuity of the medium or grunt at the ubiquity of advertising.

  4. hi
    have been tracking the development of wait marketing for some time and find hardly a few have attempted this exercise. i have been trying to advocate this to some of my clients and unable to take it forward because strangely resources like 3D artists, agencies that can get us the right medium for example a vantage position in an aircraft or airport do not seem to be existing.