Brands in the modern day face both a challenge and an opportunity. While digital technologies have opened up new ways of getting in touch with customers beyond the traditional broadcast and print media – brands need to know how to use them effectively to deliver successful marketing campaigns. Digital PR is now a big part of the marketing mix, with brands needing to know how to translate traditional techniques to the landscape of 2017.
So, how do the biggest and the best brands look to get their message across in this era of opportunity and challenge? It pays to look at some of the most high profile marketing campaigns and look at the lessons – good and bad – that can be learned from the way that they operate. Here are five to consider:
Campaign: Where Everything’s Done Proper (Yorkshire Tea)
Yorkshire Tea earned a lot of attention for the videos produced as part of its ‘Where Everything’s Done Proper’ videos. Its trio of fun videos put famous faces from Yorkshire into amusing scenarios - with the Kaiser Chiefs playing hold music, Olympic athletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee acting as delivery men and Sir Michael Parkinson conducting a job interview.
Lesson: Yorkshire Tea has a strong sense of humour running throughout its advertising campaigns and social media content and these videos embraced this well. It’s not always easy to get humour right, but this content manages this well – and provides valuable video content that works on TV adverts as well as on social media. They’re also a great example of teaming up with the ‘right’ celebrities – with the Yorkshiremen in question the perfect fit for the brand and the audience.
Campaign: Open Your World (Heineken)
Heineken chose to conduct a real-life social experiment for its Open Your World campaign. It brought together people with polar opposite views (feminist and anti-feminist, climate change activist and denier) and put them together in team-building exercises before revealing their political viewpoints to each other. They then had the option of walking away or staying to discuss their differences over a beer.
Lesson: It’s not always easy to tackle social issues – especially not if you’re a beer brand – but this video manages this very successfully. It shows that even people with wildly opposing views can find something in common to bring them together, with the brand skillfully but not obtrusively also brought into the content. Content with a ‘strong message’ can work, provided it is handled carefully. This is how it’s done. The fact that it achieved three million views in the eight days after it was launched, more than 50,000 shares in a month and sparked a trending hashtag #OpenYourWorld also shows that it worked.
Campaign: Solidaritea (various brands)
When Anna May Mangan criticised the ‘booming trend in women confessing to their gin-soaked shortcomings as mothers and writing books documenting how terrible they are at parenting’ in a Daily Mail article she prompted an angry response from mummy bloggers. The criticism, which included comments on parents feeding their children frozen fish fingers, was seized upon by Birds Eye. They created a short and simple video, which stated: “Slummy Mummy, Yummy Mummy, Funny Mummy, Proud Supporters of all mummies. We stand in #solidaritea.” Aldi also sent out a hamper to the person behind the Scummy Mummies Instagram account filled with just gin and fish fingers.
Lesson: Reactive marketing can be a great way of getting some positive PR for a brand. Birds Eye’s simple video earned more than 300,000 views on Facebook within a matter of days, with thousands of likes, comments and shares on Facebook and Instagram too. Aldi’s interjection was timed well too, happening just as the supermarket launched its mother and baby range. While this form of marketing can’t be planned, having the ability to pounce when an opportunity presents itself is extremely valuable in 2017.
Campaign: Epic Lift (MoneySuperMarket)
The advert breaks of ITV flagship show the X Factor are highly sought after by brands – offering a lucrative opportunity to go before the eyes of a large and diverse TV audience. But how can you capture the attention of people across different generations with an advert? MoneySuperMarket has decided to wheel out Masters of the Universe foes He-Man and Skeletor as you’ve never seen them before, with a homage to Dirty Dancing 30 years after its release. The video features the pair recreating dance moves from the film to the strains of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes and was backed up with supporting material on social media.
Lesson: It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd and sometimes quirky ads work. This taps into a catchy song that the audience will be well aware of – and pays homage to a children’s TV show and film that will be familiar to many viewers too. It also builds on the cheeky ‘epic’ message that has been a theme of the MoneySuperMarket messaging for a while, reinforcing this once again. The blend of nostalgia and fun works on many levels for this audience, while MoneySuperMarket’s content goes to prove that even the driest of business services can find its voice with engaging content.
Campaign: Join The Movement (Pepsi)
When Pepsi unveiled an advert starring Kendall Jenner, it aimed to promote a positive message – showing a diverse group of activists united by ‘a global message of unity, peace and understanding’. However, it ended up sparking ridicule and criticism – including from Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King – with commentators saying that it trivialised demonstrations and protest movements, implying that a can of Pepsi from the model would help everyone get along better.
Lesson: If Heineken’s video was a lesson in how to include social messages in marketing campaigns, this is a lesson in how not to do it. Pepsi apologised, pulled the (presumably expensive) advert and admitted it had ‘missed the mark’. The social media feed of the drinks giant probably didn’t make for great reading either, with the advert sparking a highly negative reaction. Misguided material has the power to offend and do great damage to a brand - this is the best (or should that be worst?) example of this in 2017.