The holiday season sees the launch of marketing campaigns from a wide variety of brands. Most just go through the motions while a handful are a cut above. Here are a few campaigns – beyond traditional, ads which caught my eye.
1. BBC One: Wonderland
Of late, brands have embarked on campaigns which seemingly discourage usage of their own category. For example, telecom brands which depend on data consumption for revenue have urged people to spend less time on their mobile phones and connect with their loved ones ‘offline’. I guess it is in line with increasing concerns over mobile addiction and the need for digital detox. A new ad for BBC One in the UK is on similar lines: “a story about rediscovering the joy of spending time together” says the plot summation. There isn’t any real twist to the story and one can predict how it is all going to end, but it is moving, nevertheless. It also works because it is very different from the happy, bright, glitzy Christmas ads which are pretty common during the season. It is in line with last year’s effort which told a story of a father-daughter relationship.
2. Payless: luxury store
Brands don’t have to attraction attention and gain affinity only through paid advertising. Here’s a smart marketing stunt pulled off by Payless – a discount footwear retailer in the US. They staged a luxury event taking over an old Armani store and renaming it Palessi. They then invited ‘influencers’ selling them their regular merchandise but marking up the price significantly – 10x their original value. The ploy worked as consumers actually paid the price perhaps taken in partly by the ‘ambience’.
The stunt got tonnes of press coverage. It proves that luxury marketing codes are different from regular brands – perception and context matters a lot more for premium brands, not so much rational reasons. However, I doubt if those who flock premium & luxury brands will now switch over completely to a discount brand like Payless – the triggers are different. Such stunts probably make the current buyers of Payless feel good about their brand choice. Your views?
3. BMW X5: the remarkable journey
Automobile advertising is a tough category, especially in a market like USA where one can’t get by without owning a 4-wheeler. The competition is tough, product parity is common and most advertising follows dull category codes. In this context comes a refreshing ad based on actual marketing stunt. The BMW X5 celebrated its world premiere at the LA Auto Show by driving in a dirty and muddy vehicle. The reason? The vehicle was driven over 3000 miles from Spartanburg, South Carolina (where the plant is located) in, a straight line without taking any detours (well, almost).
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
4. Apple: a little company
As I have said before, Apple’s advertising is relentlessly focused on its product & features. More importantly, the benefit is conveyed in an interesting manner (almost always). So the portrait mode is presented as letting the subject be the focus thereby making everything else disappear. Similarly in order to highlight Group FaceTime, a bunch of Elvis impersonators across the world get together on a video call. Loved it.
5. Spotify: 2018 unwrapped
In ad agency parlance, this campaign would have been described as one ‘with legs’. A few years ago, Spotify created a humorous outdoor campaign telling the world how people used playlists. It sent out a message that customisation is central to the brand and made it relatable. The idea continues this year with more ‘research’ based ads.
6. Swiggy: what’s in a name
Human beings have virtually no say on their first names (which they have to live for their entire life), as its their parents who make the decision. If only parents understood the importance of the name they choose – as one with an unusual, long name, I can only let out a sigh. ‘How do we call you?’ is one question I have been asked whenever I meet new people. So I could relate to this spot from Swiggy in a twisted sort of way as it aims to get customers to acknowledge Swiggy delivery folks by name. The plot is quirky and keeps you riveted till the proverbial penny drops.
Creative Director: Shikha Gupta
Production House: Flying Saucer
As an aside, it is also a commentary on the trend of big enterprises to move design, technology (including coding & app development), digital marketing and even creative development in-house. Until now, service providers in the tech space bore the brunt of it largely. It remains to be seen how traditional ad agencies cope with this trend.
7. Clas Ohlson: stress-free Christmas
A Christmas ad which highlights everything that could go wrong, including a Santa who vomits? That’s different. A Swedish hardware store chain conveys that if you leave things to them, Christmas can be stress-free.
8. Alzheimer’s awareness: crossword
The NYT Crossword is one the many iconic ‘properties’ associated with the media brand. In order to highlight the impact of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America published an ad as a regular puzzle. The answers were not published and the ‘can’t find the answers?’ blurb connects the dots.
Agency: Area 23
9. New York Public Library: Black Friday
A tactical ad for the New York Public Library cleverly mimics the language of Black Friday sales ads to convey that book reading is free.
10. BikeExchange: Where The World Rides
Stories about a few big e-commerce brands are part of the news cycle everyday. What about the many little-known brands from across the world? What do they do to build awareness and an audience? I found some clues in this ad in the way it presents the world as a marketplace for a niche brand based in Australia.
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne
Which one was your favourite? Comment in.