February 6, 2014

Beyond the Superbowl

Everyone talks about the TV spots created especially for the Superbowl and how much they cost. But what about digital? How did these big brands leverage social, mobile and web to capitalize on their big spending on the big day?

According to blogger David Hibbs “Hashtags won as the main CTA with over 60% of the ads using some kind of #hashtag to keep the viewers engaged beyond 30-seconds. This is a major change. Hashtags have now become the “universal” way people can use the second screen and still partake in the conversation. Even though hashtags are most commonly associated with Twitter, brands now have a way to easily connect with their viewers and customers on their social platform of preference…Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. URLs were almost non existent this year with only a handful of companies pointing customers to their homepage or social presence with a URL. While Shazam was big a few years ago, there were only a couple ads that still used this as an opportunity to extend experience”.

Some might say that Budweiser won the digital game with their Puppy spot which they released online days before the game to build the hype. With 43 million views and counting it’s safe to say they made a touchdown. But as Lincoln Bjorkman, Wunderman’s Global CCO said, “so this year’s killer digital strategy is the early release of a great ad on YouTube?”

But perhaps the real winner was Doritos with their $1 million Crash The Superbowl contest for the best Super Bowl commercial. That was the prize for fans of the brand who won the vote for coming up with the best commercial. Agencies were left on the sidelines while Doritos payed for airtime and offered $1 million to the ultimate winners. All entrants covered the casting, writing, and production of the videos themselves.

In the words of blogger Bill Faeth “this was a really smart game plan. In terms of money saved, Doritos won hands down. Still, they’ve done something even smarter than save money. The popular chip company will also earn themselves piles of social proof, and that’s something money can’t buy. When Doritos opened the competition to the general public, they received 5,500 entries. That’s 5,500 people who like the brand enough to put hard work into creating their own commercials. Of course, the $1 million dollar prize helped sweeten the deal, but that doesn’t inspire passion for the brand; it only inspires passion for the prize. Voters, also the general public (and probably Doritos lovers), can tell the difference between those who want to promote the company and those who just want to cash in. If you think this might not be the case, just take a look at some of the finalists”.

Crowdsourcing is something of an old idea but obviously it still works. If the result is content people want to share then everyone wins. Beyond Doritos there was not a lot of innovation around marketing the Superbowl. The one standout example of innovation would be H&M. As AdAge reported, “they aired a 30-second spot during the second quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII that let viewers with certain Samsung smart TVs use their remote controls to engage with the commercial and buy products from David Beckham’s Bodywear line.

The interactivity didn’t take viewers out of the regular broadcast stream. A small part of the screen presented a pop-up menu while the ad ran on the larger part of the screen. The pop-up menu offered product information, the ability to send that info to another device and the option to buy the product directly. The ad would still be interactive and shoppable for consumers who rewind to it using their DVRs”.

Obviously this technology was limited to a small number of people with the right TV but points the way forward when all TVs are connected.

Apparently the game itself was pretty dull and not all the ads were inspiring either. But there was still enough creative inspiration around this year’s Superbowl to get everyone talking.

Sources: www.responsys.com www.business2community.com adage.com

December 19, 2010

Week of tweets #22

After 6 weeks working in Shanghai I’ve barely managed to keep tweeting while my blogging has been very thin on the ground. Well, these regular updates from my life on Twitter hopefully make up for my silence.

iCandy – Dentsu London’s light extrusion 3D text demo now available to everyone as an iPad app… http://engt.co/epVKIS

  • This amazing project by Dentsu and Berg has been featured on my blog before. Now anyone with lots of patience and time on their hands can make incredible 3D writing appear in the air. Just don’t ask why. It’s cool.

Very smart… RT @tomgooday: RT @blogilvydotnl .WWF a .pdf that cannot be printed http://bit.ly/hg4p8s great idea!

  • This won’t catch on unfortunately but I love the thinking behind it. A future award winner to be sure.

Brighten your Monday with GE’s Ecomagination YouTube extravaganza – http://bit.ly/fVuOoj

  • The agency behind GE’s campaign have dome some amazing work. The song might be a little annoying but the execution is spot on…

What the fail whale designer did next – cool murals from Yiying Lu http://bit.ly/hUvJOc

  • No doubt she was paid peanuts for her design that is seen by millions – but she rode that fail whale to international stardom. Read the full story here.

How times have changed… RT @mariegoupry: A Day in the Life of Social Media http://bit.ly/ez181p

Amazing 360 degree video for Doritos Late Night Flavours –http://bit.ly/bdm7tw

  • Incredible music video that allows you to change to viewpoint of an immersive world featuring singer Professor Green. The link with the product is a little week but great branded entertainment.

Ooh la la! French iAd for Perrier featuring Dita van Teese –http://youtu.be/5hAnqMMU8E0 via @brunoclement

OK GO launches a GPS Art Project http://bit.ly/gx8gnN If only their songs were as interesting as their videos.

  • As Daan (one of my old colleagues) summed up, “Maybe they’re a viral ad agency in disguise :-)”

and finally – something non-digital to mark the season…

The true spirit of Christmas today – beautifully captured in Pot Noodle ad from AKQA http://bit.ly/dT487U

You have to be English to get the full irony. But sweet anyway. Merry Christmas everyone!

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.

March 8, 2010

Something strange in adland – episode 1

upside-down-houseYou know there’s something strange in adland when…

You don’t needs ads.

An iPhone app for VW is downloaded four million times generating an “80% increase in leads, test drive and quote requests without a print ad, banner or broadcast spot in sight”. AKQA have a track record for zigging instead of zagging. See the video case study here >

You don’t need agencies.

Clients like Doritos now ask consumers to create their ad campaigns (only they don’t know that advertising folks are the ones submitting the best ideas!)

tunickIn this New York Times article Stuart Elliot writes “BE afraid, Madison Avenue. Be very afraid”. He mentions various campaigns where “consumers” developed the ideas. But on the flipside, this blog post from ADLAB reveals a different story.

You don’t need a budget.

One agency got a year’s worth of media for only $500 by taking advantage of people with poor eyesight. See the story from McCann Erickson Israel…

You don’t need TV.

The 2009 Cannes Film Grand Prix goes to an interactive movie you can only see on the internet. Watch the DDB case study video…

Keep your eyes open – the strangeness isn’t over yet.

December 11, 2009

How to build great (digital) campaigns

under-constructionChapter 5 in David Ogilvy’s book, Confessions of an Advertising Man (the inspiration behind this blog), talks about the discipline needed to create truly successful campaigns. He believed that good advertising “sells the product without drawing attention to itself. It should rivet the reader’s attention on the product”. It should never say “what a clever advertisement”.

How does this apply to today’s world of digital media? Many “viral” campaigns are all about being clever while the product is almost invisible. Ogilvy was all about results and was obsessed with the performance-driven disciplines of mail-order, retail and consumer research. He talked about data years before it became part of the fabric of everyday life.

Ogilvy wrote his recipe for advertising campaigns that made “the cash register ring”. Let’s see how his “eleven commandments” work today:

1 – What you say is more important than how you say it.

“The content of the advertising, not its form” makes someone buy your product according to Ogilvy. In the world of print or TV advertising this may be more true than in the area of digital where brand experience is becoming more important. Form and content become blurred.

A great example is the Doritos Hotel 626 where the product makes way for an entertaining, branded experience that probably does more for the product than a site telling you about the way it’s made.

2 – Unless your campaign is built around a great idea, it will flop.

The face of advertising may be changing with new agencies springing up that offer new models and ways of thinking… but there is one thing that will never change. The power of the idea. Technology can support a great idea but not replace it. Campaigns built on a gimmick won’t have the legs to last very long.

Build your campaign around a bad idea (hello Windows 7 party) and you might end up with the wrong kind of publicity.

3 – Give the facts.

Here digital comes into it’s own. Where space was limited in print ads or 30 seconds on TV could only contain so much information, the internet allows people to dig as deep as they choose. Check out the Dove US website. With different levels of information and opportunities to engage, it really allows you to experience the brand philosophy and products in a tangible way.

4 – You cannot bore people into buying.

Ogilvy wrote that “the average family is now exposed to more than 1500 advertisements a day”. Imagine what that figure must be like today? It’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter and get the attention of your potential customer. Some of the best digital campaigns of the past year are definitely not boring. They even merit their own “making of”.

5 – Be well mannered, but don’t clown.

David’s comments are a definite throwback to the Madmen era of good manners and etiquette. Today “clowning” around online seems to be a required feature of most campaigns. What would Mr. Ogilvy think of it all? Even footballers are happy to be silly in this new campaign for the Fifa 10 game.

6 – Make your advertisements contemporary.

This is surely not what Ogilvy had in mind but being contemporary online means tapping into all the current digital trends. From crowdsourcing to social networking – the Public Polo campaign by Achtung captures the spirit of now.

7 – Committees can criticize advertisement, but they cannot write them.

A single-minded vision cannot be delivered by a group of people making decisions. The best online campaigns have clearly had a very brave client that is confident in a great idea.

Someone at McCann Erickson Israel came up with this original idea and the client went with it. Maybe because it also cost so little.

8 – If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops pulling.

In advertising history there have been many campaigns that have continued for years, constantly being updated but with one strong concept. The Louis Vuitton Journeys campaign is a great example of a good idea that travels far – and works equally well on and offline.


9 – Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your own family to read.

The Burger King Subservient Chicken was a great idea that didn’t offend anyone. But have they gone too far with the Shower Cam? Trust the British to risk offending consumers with a site where each morning a shower babe “shakes her bits to the hits at 9:30 a.m. every morning”. All to promote the BK breakfast.

10 – The image and the brand.

The internet throws up a big problem. How do you control all that is being said about your brand? Even if you have a consistent advertising and marketing message with a strong, identifiable style… someone somewhere online will upset the apple cart by trashing your carefully constructed image. This might be through an angry blog complaining about customer service or via someone mashing up your ads on YouTube.

11 – Don’t be a copycat.

Sorry to mention you again Microsoft but this was too late too lame…

August 10, 2009

Inside the story

you-choose-the-endingDigital media is allowing us to find new ways to engage with an audience. Through interactive storytelling people are being drawn into marketing campaigns in a truly powerful way. This recent example for the Metropolitan Police uses a special YouTube channel with a multi-path story that is determined by the choices made by the viewer. You immediately see the consequences of carrying a knife.

The other thing that is taken very seriously in the UK is the consumption of crisps. A new campaign for Doritos and their mystery new flavour also uses storytelling but draws you into a fictional world. The excellent DigitalBuzz blog reported that “The ID3 Advergame allows players to go undercover to help unlock the truth behind a mysterious case of mistaken identity in a ‘choose your own adventure’ style game. Each episode contains a mixture of fully interactive 3D levels, sound recognition, interactive scenes, and film content”.

Taking things one step further – and recognising the popularity of social media – it’s uniquely integrated with Facebook Connect, so the advergame pulls content directly from the player’s Facebook profile and then dynamically inserts it into the film footage. Where most applications with Facebook Connect technology use it simply to populate a profile, iD3 uses it to personalise the entire game and extend it directly into Facebook.

Doritos iD3 like being inside your own BBC drama series and gives the brand a great platform to engage with the audience over a period of time. You can take a look here but you won’t get far without the unique pack codes (sorry, can’t help). These forms of branded entertainment are helping to connect people with campaigns in a way that will hopefully change their behaviour. Whether it is to stop carrying weapons or to eat more crisps… digital is providing new tools to help marketers meet their goals.

But let’s not forget storytelling in its simplest form. It doesn’t have to be interactive to be clever as this new, long-form online video for Johnny Walker proves. A great script, amazingly acted (check out that timing) and beautifully shot just can’t be beat.