Is honking good advertising?

Matt | Taxis in Beijing | Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

I’m walking out of my apartment getting ready for the relaxing 20 minute walk to work, as I’m about to cross the road I read a spine-shattering, ear-piercing noise that instinctively gets me ready to jump out of an impending disaster….

I heard a car honk.

Actually, I heard a taxi honk.

In fact I’ve heard about a million taxis honk as I approach, not because they were about to hit me with their yellow and purple transportation devices, but because they simply wanted to ask me, “Do you want a ride?”.

Lately, I’ve been thinking, is honking a good approach to advertising their taxi services?

On the one hand, it does get someones attention.  I believe that is a big aspect of advertising, to get the consumers attention.  So in this way, it does work.  I realize the taxi is there.  Actually, sometimes it even makes me ask the question, “Do I want to take a taxi?”.  So again, it does work, to a point.

On the other hand, I think the purpose of advertising is to attract the consumers to your product or service.  In this way, honking by taxis, fails miserably for me.  As I’ve committed myself to never getting into a taxi that honks at me.  I will actually take the very next one just to prove a point.   So, I don’t think honking is a good form of advertising for taxis.

Yet, it happens.  It is a popular form of advertising for most taxi drivers here in China.

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