With every brand on the planet trying to “engage” with people online, it’s quite difficult these days to sort the wheat from the chaff. Thankfully some campaigns have been so outstanding that they have set a benchmark for others to follow.
Whether it’s using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or ‘blogger outreach’, a new body of work is emerging that, as well as being based on outstanding creative ideas, makes the most of the media at its disposal.
Revolution asked current and former executives of the leading social media owners – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube – to nominate the best campaigns ever run on their networks (they wanted to remain anonymous).
We also took reader nominations for the most innovative blogger outreach campaign. The work is diverse, ranging from car brand Volkswagen to fashion’s Forever 21, from the Metropolitan Police to Old Spice.
There may be some better campaigns out there and, one would hope, at least being worked on, but the five campaigns featured here have set the standard for others to aspire to.
As technology develops, it’s up to brands to push the boundaries more than ever before to reach the right audience and position themselves as pioneers. The following campaigns are from brands that more than fulfil this criterion.
Social network: LinkedIn
While LinkedIn has proven that it is effective for recruiting the right people, and for certain B2B campaigns, it’s not known as a particularly creative advertising platform. This makes Volkswagen’s ‘LinkedUit’ campaign for its Passat model all the more ingenious, going, as it did, where no brand had gone before.
The “media first” part of it was impressive enough. In launching LinkedUit, Volkswagen became the first brand to make use of the site’s API.
The idea was based on “being LinkedUit, or LinkedOut”. The campaign challenged members of the business site to battle against each other, Top Trumps-style, to see who had the stronger profile.
Criteria, such as education, experience, number of connections, strength of recommendations and the extent of a profile’s completion, contributed to an overall score. Victors earned the chance to win a Passat, a model aimed largely at business people.
Overall, this campaign used LinkedIn in ways no other brand has done so before or since, and achieved impressive participation levels in the target market of The Netherlands.
Automotive brands have often pioneered new digital formats, and Volkswagen used the LinkedIn API not just to engage with a business audience, but also to position the marque as innovative in a particularly crowded category.
Brand: Forever 21
Social network: Blogger outreach
When US fashion brand Forever 21 launched its second UK store in London’s Oxford Street in the summer, it signed up fashion blogger, model and DJ Bip Ling to promote its products as well as being the new face of the business.
Her youth, quirky fashion sense and roots (her parents are fashion illustrators) are the perfect fit for the fashion retailer.
Adopting the blogger outreach model – using influential online commentators to reach out to target consumers – has reaped dividends for the fashion brand, which is aimed at teenagers and young adults. Ling’s blog has not only helped to increase sales, but has also gathered a loyal following of young followers of fashion who are willing to trust her views and, potentially, purchase the products she recommends.
With this influential blog and more than five million Facebook fans, it’s not surprising that Forever 21′s marketing director, Linda Chang, hails social media as the brand’s most effective marketing tool. This use of blogger outreach demonstrates just how well a brand can connect with its target audience.
Campaign: Whopper sacrifice
Brand: Burger King
Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Social network: Facebook
It’s no surprise that Burger King and Crispin Porter + Bogusky devised the best marketing campaign to grace Facebook. The same team that brought us ‘Subservient Chicken’ and other digital hits moved up a gear with “Whopper sacrifice”.
The idea was crude and controversial – sacrifice (or “unfriend”) 10 of your Facebook friends and receive a free Whopper. Faced with the choice of food versus friends, more than 50,000 consumers ditched their pals for a burger within one week of the campaign going live.
Unfortunately for anyone who didn’t claim a free burger in the first week, they would be deprived forever more as Facebook, citing breaches in the site’s terms and conditions, pulled the campaign.
Tapping into Facebook’s API can be a dangerous business, and the social network ruled that showing the names of “sacrificed” friends in the user’s timeline was against its terms of usage.
By then, of course, Burger King had achieved a significant following on Facebook, widespread global press coverage and an increase in footfall. Like most campaigns that push the boundaries, Burger King’s benefitted from the ban, with fans of the fast-food chain swiftly criticising Facebook for banning Whopper sacrifice.
Campaign: Smell like a man, man
Brand: Old Spice
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland
Social network: Twitter
When Iain Tait, one of the founders of award-winning digital agency Poke, left the UK to go Stateside, Britain’s digital scene was worse for it. Little did the industry know, however, that Tait would soon be pedalling Isaiah Mustafa, the frontman of one of the best digital ad campaigns of all time, to a UK audience.
Tait and colleagues at Wieden+Kennedy Portland came up with “Old Spice guy”, a confident, camera-facing hero telling women what their men can smell like if they buy the brand’s body wash.
The campaign, through online video and TV, attracted widespread attention, but the really clever move was to reply directly to Twitter users who mentioned the campaign with a personalised video. The agency created 120 video responses in 24 hours, making the campaign even more viral than before.
Old Spice created videos for hundreds of Twitter users, including high-profile ones such as Twitter founder Biz Stone and blogger Perez Hilton, meaning the reach of the campaign escalated rapidly.
Twitter went wild, Mustafa’s profile went sky high and Old Spice sold more body wash as a result. It has since won at Cannes, as well as setting the benchmark for Twitter campaigns. A smart use of YouTube and other video sites was in evidence, but it was the adroit use of Twitter that made this campaign stratospheric.
Campaign: Choose a different ending
Brand: COI/Met Police
Social network: YouTube
The Metropolitan Police wanted to discourage London’s teenagers from carrying knives. Instead of the normal print and broadcast messages, the Met and ad agency AMV/BBDO took an altogether different route, creating a series of interactive videos titled ‘Choose a Different Ending’.
Shot in the first person, the opening video features a teenager leaving his flat, with the options being to take a knife or not. As the story develops, consumers are offered a choice of 21 films and ten different endings.
Paid-for banner ads backed up the YouTube campaign, which generated debate about youth crime and preventative initiatives.
The video ads achieved a 2.1% click-through rate and the agency says that if it had chosen TV as a medium, it would have taken six times the campaign budget to reach the same number of people (an impressive 78% of the target audience).
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