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Shouting from Roku’s animated rooftops

As the sun set last night, my bride and I settled in to watch some television. 

The screen’s wallpaper presented the illustrious Roku City. Featuring 30-plus references from popular movies and TV shows, this never-ending carousel includes scenes from every genre, mysteries to monsters, fantasy to romance. They’re updated periodically with the latest hits and Easter eggs to delight fans.

Wandering through these streets, one will see “Independence Day” aliens blowing up Big Ben, Norman Bates’ house and an erupting volcano. In the distance you’ll observe the Titanic sinking, King Kong, the Daily Planet building, Emerald City and the Golden Gate bridge.

These images enchant those who know the classics but appear generic to those who don’t. Is the town square courthouse from “Back to the Future,” “Inherit the Wind” or some back lot?

The answer’s in the clock tower.

Today I’m troubled by what I witnessed there. I speak not of gentrification, though Roku City is undoubtedly dealing with the same issues many metropolitan communities face. 

Rather, I’m concerned with a marketing overload (you knew I’d get there eventually!)

Because last week I saw McDonald’s golden arches by the waterfront. Today there’s a Walmart store where none previously existed. 

And the movie theater’s marquee (usually proclaiming “Free Roku Films”) announced “Barbie” as the next attraction.  

It’s subtle marketing, and it’s only from well-known organizations where one look at the name or logo reinforces an image already created from other avenues.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this turn of events. Marketers are currently seeking every imaginable surface to tout their wares, and media companies desperately need new revenue. 

So it was only a matter of time until Roku City became an advertising vehicle. 

Of course, with 71.6 million subscribers, Roku’s wallpaper is arguably a viable venue for any well-known brand to appear. After all, those golden arches bring instant recognition.

But unless you already possess a market presence like Apple, FedEx or Starbucks, your marketing budget is better spent elsewhere.

Ignore the temptation to follow the big kids onto this virtual playground and instead invest your resources in digital advertising, social media presence, direct marketing, public speaking and other more traditional messaging efforts.

It’s sure to improve your chances of people seeing your logo and not saying, “Who?”

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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