August 23, 2010

How to make good (digital) campaigns…

In David Ogilvy’s book “Confessions of an Advertising Man” he points out that there are real specific factors to consider when it comes to advertising in certain categories. Online, things are no different. You can’t apply a cookie cutter approach to any product but need to understand the category and what people might expect from that kind of product in the digital space. Is it a high or low involvement product? Is the target audience of that product web savvy enough for complex campaigns? As part of my series updating Ogilvy’s book for the 21st century let’s take a look at the 3 categories he covered…


David Ogilvy’s tips were specific for print and TV, with suggestions for art direction and copywriting to bring out the best aspects of the product. In digital it is much more about building a preference for the product by enhancing the brand with useful or entertaining content, real facts that answer people’s burning questions or simply bring the product personality to life.

The recent Domino Pizza turnaround campaign was a great example of answering the questions people were asking. Questions about product quality & taste and responding the negativity around the infamous YouTube video of Domino staff messing with the food. Of course it is risky being so open as you will see on their campaign page. Not every customer comment coming in via Twitter is positive. They get quickly deleted of course.

At the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the pure branded entertainment of Doritos and the Asylum626 campaign. After the succes of the Hotel 626 campaign, Doritos continued the experience with the Asylum 626. Created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and produced by B-Reel, the new website was just as scary and was divided into stages where you had goals to meet and puzzles to unravel. You could interact via microphones and webcams to live the experience more realistically and the integration with Facebook and Twitter was a good addition. With scenes that had horror movie-style quick cuts the game managed to scare even the toughest players.


In “Confessions of an Advertising Man”, Ogilvy says that ads for tourism should “convert dreams into action – transforming potential energy into kinetic energy”. This is still true in digital with the best online tourism campaigns truly engaging with the viewer so they already become virtually involved with the destination… a first step towards actually going there. The Queensland Tourism “Best job in the world” campaign is the obvious example of how successful you can be in this category online. But let’s look at some less well-known examples:

The Webby Award winner Snapshots of Provence is an experimental website for the local tourist board which you can navigate two ways. Pick pictures on the left to visit by regions which includes small video clips or use the wheel on the right for an alternate navigation. This comprehensive sound and visual experience is an excerpt from the travel book of photographer Thomas Duval and sound designer Tacteel and produced by UZIK. An immersive experience like this really can talk to the dreamer in everyone and make them want to start planning a trip.

This next example may not be a tourist destination but it’s more about how you get there. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class was promoted online with this amusing Cannes award winning campaign that played on people’s fear of flying. Travelers on other airlines may suffer from a fear of flying, but someone who has flown Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class and experienced their unprecedented level of pampering may suffer from something much worse: The fear of not flying Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class.

Check out one of the banners here.


When it comes to advertising pharmaceutical products Ogilvy was spot on when he wrote that it must be serious, authoritative and educational. This first example ticks all those boxes. A People’s Choice Webby Award winner by RAPP, this website promoted the first FDA-approved, over-the-counter weight-loss pill. The agency designed a site for people interested in understanding how to use the new drug, called ‘alli.’ Information and tools were provided to offer patients an alternative to current over-the-counter weight-loss options. Content/tools on the consumer sites included a BMI calculator and a readiness quiz. A ‘Commitment Letter’ feature enabled people to share past diet experiences. More than 1.5 million unique visitors logged on during the first four months.

Of course there are always times when you want to turn conventions upside down. You can be serious about incontinence or make fun of it by getting Whoopi Goldberg to be the front woman. As part of a large print and television advertising campaign for Poise, the adult diapers produced by Kimberly-Clark, Goldberg played the parts of several historical and mythical women, suggesting that light bladder leakage may have been a problem for Mona Lisa, the Statue of Liberty, Eve, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy etc. The films, a montage of which featured during the 2010 Oscars, also formed the heart of a dedicated website which provided a platform for women to learn about the problem and not to feel so alone.

So maybe there are no fixed rules today for advertising online. As long as you understand whom you are talking to and find an idea that connects with them then you’ve got a great chance of your campaign making a difference.

April 16, 2009

Viral can be bad for you.

In the past couple of days there have been several viral sensations. Some good and some bad – especially for Domino Pizza who will be in damage control mode for months after two employees posted videos on YouTube where they added their own ingredients to the food. Meanwhile Susan Boyle, a plain-looking woman from Scotland tapped into the emotional void of a nation by singing her heart out on Britain’s Got Talent. At the last count she had over 11 million views of her video. On his blog Giles Rhys Jones talks about how “viral agencies are the new ad agencies”.

His example of the Samsung LED sheep shows that you can capture a lot of attention in a short space of time. Will those viewers go out and buy a Samsung TV? Or will they just click to the next video of some idiots farting on a sandwich? When viral viewing can have a measurable result on sales then we can declare the end of traditional agencies. In the meantime agencies just need to stay on top of the trend but not throw out the baby with the bath water. Mmm, that sounds like another viral video.

Read the blog post from Giles >