Seeking to turn heads at New York’s fall Fashion Week, Target rented street-facing rooms in Manhattan’s Standard Hotel in the fashionable Meatpacking District. At sundown, the lights went up. Throwing open the rooms’ white curtains, 66 dancers dressed in day-glo suits wriggled and writhed to a score by DJ Sam Spiegel while the a light show cycled through a spectrum of color combos — a Close Encounters-like light show reinterpreted for Gen-Y.
Target installed bleachers on Little West 12th Street to provide seating for some of the 3,000 to 5,000 onlookers, invited celebrities to jazz things up, and Web-casted, video-recorded, and photographed the event for maximum media and social media exposure.
MINI’s Challenge to Porsche
Objective: Generate customer engagement.
Payoff: YouTube views in the six figures; MINI talked about in the same breath as Porsche.
Unforeseen payoff for a competitor: Carmaker Hyundai jumped in on the game.
MINI has never been big on TV advertising. The British automaker, owned by BMW, broke into the U.S. market a decade ago entirely via guerilla marketing. In Spring 2010, MINI chief James McDowell appeared in a YouTube video challenging Porsche North America to a race (Porsche turned MINI down).
The video, which appeared on YouTube as well as Mini’s website, was shot with Flip cameras, then circulated to leading auto industry bloggers, who wrote about the stunt.
And, in the wide-open world of guerrilla marketing, a third auto company, Hyundai, decided to join in the good-natured one-upmanship, creating its own video challenging MINI to a race. Hyundai’s ballsy effort earned more than 50,000 views and engaged the attention of the auto industry media, some of whom saw Hyundai as the cleverest marketer of the three.
Global Warming Awareness Campaign
Objective: Bring attention to the issue of global warming.
Payoff: Coverage in hundreds of blogs and news media outlets.
Small businesses can take a lesson from nonprofits and advocacy groups, which often make up for small marketing budgets by creating offbeat campaigns.
The city of Vancouver got a dose of global warming reality when Offsetters, a Canadian organization that advises companies and individuals on how to offset carbon emissions, hung life rafts off the sides of buildings, set up manned lifeguard stands in city parks with “Lifeguard On Duty” signs, and strapped life jackets under park benches with advisory signs for passersby.
The point: That global warming, unchecked, will flood coastal cities. The execution didn’t cost much, but created high shock value that got the attention of local and national media. And the idea was completely tied into the mission of the organization.
The Return of Volta Ferrorama
Objective: Test the waters via a social media event to see if a toy is worth selling to a new generation of kids.
Payoff: An informed decision to relaunch the product.
Brazilian company Volta Ferrorama produced a toy train that was discontinued in 1989. Ferrorama’s parent company, Manufatura de Brinquedos Estrela, noticed that Internet communities dedicated to the beloved brand continued to grow and wondered whether the toy could attract a new generation of buyers.
Estrela staged an event, amplified on Facebook, Twitter, and in the news media, that fully engaged tens of thousands of fans, scored more than 600,000 YouTube views, and broke into Twitter’s Trending Topics in Brazil three times.
The leading fan group of Ferrorama organized an effort to have a toy train travel 20 km (about 12.4 miles) with just 110 meters (about 360 feet) of track. Volunteers pitched in to continually move the track through streets, plazas, and parks so the train would have an uninterrupted course. The company was so impressed by the overwhelming response that it relaunched the toy.
Colgate Ice Cream Sticks
Objective: Promote Colgate products and overall dental hygiene.
Payoff: Publicity and significant sales gains in markets where the promotion ran.
Ad agency Young and Rubicam’s Thailand office came up with a clever reminder for kids that shows what can happen when one marketer reaches out to another to collaborate on a good idea. Colgate approached a local ice cream manufacturer to have sticks shaped like a toothbrush inserted into its ice cream bars. As kids licked down to the end, they saw Colgate’s logo and a reminder, “Don’t Forget.”
A whimsical message from Colgate and a public service effort by the ice cream maker gave both companies a PR boost.
Copenhagen Zoo Bus Ads
Objective: Drive patronage to the zoo for a special exhibit without relying too heavily on expensive TV, radio, and outdoor advertising.
Payoff: Attendance surpassed projections by 30 percent.
The Copenhagen Zoo wanted to promote its new reptile exhibit and drive ticket sales. Take out some ads, right? Or, the zoo’s marketing office could employ the creative capability of graphic printers by using giant wraps. Shrink-wrapped city buses in Copenhagen gave the impression that they were being squeezed by a giant boa constrictor.
Working with city transit authorities on clever schemes like this to turn buses and subway cars into rolling message boards is easily done these days, especially as many cities are looking for new sources of revenue. And an ad that moves around the city all day will be seen by everyone in town.
Free Air Guitar Giveaway
Objective: Launch a new local radio station with a low-cost campaign to engage young social media users.
Payoff: Wide distribution of photos on social media sites and mention on local blogs.
Radio stations have long been known for doing live, on-location shows at beaches, shopping malls, and car shows as a way to be more visible. But when launching a new station, FM 96.3 in Glasgow, Scotland, showed how far a few dollars and a creative idea can go to help gain attention.
The station set up empty guitar racks around the city with a sign reading: “Free Air Guitar. Take One.” It was clever enough to get noticed. It was also an idea that was very much in keeping with the spirit of a rock station and its listeners who might be given over to air-guitar solos in the privacy of their own bedrooms.