Dealing with all those blankety-blank ads.

In a world awash with advertising messages screaming at consumers from seemingly every nook and cranny, some companies go to great lengths to stand out from the crowd.

The most recent "extreme" example of this comes from Hyundai’s financial services subsidiary business, which purchased $2.2 million worth of advertising space recently in a new subway station in South Korea — essentially all of the available real estate — then populated the large white panels with … practically nothing.

As transit passengers move through the new station, they encounter giant advertising spaces on the walls that are covered by 95% white space, with only one small photo image plus the company logo to hint at what is being promoted.

No doubt, the goal of this “way-less is more” approach is to draw attention to the advertising precisely because of its minimalist message.

After all, it’s different. Unexpected. Even irreverent.

But is it working? Viewing photos of the subway station interior reveals that the largely blank advertising wall signs do attract attention to themselves in a kind of perverse way. They convey a sense of something unfinished, unbalanced, and perhaps a bit unsettling.

I’m reminded of 20th Century American composer John Cage’s famous work titled “4 minutes 33 seconds” which is — you guessed it — four and a half minutes of complete silence. Perhaps not surprisingly, this work got more media attention for Cage than any of his previous compositions ever had — even as one critic quipped that while the quality of the piece itself was simply outstanding, the premiere performance itself could have used a bit more vivaciousness on the part of the players.

What all this shows is how people try to “cut through the clutter” today is the same as has been done for years: Run as far as possible in the opposite direction while lassoing some valuable publicity along the way.

Based on those criteria, it looks like Hyundai has scored pretty well on this one.

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