There are two days to spare in 2011, which leaves many people nostalgic for the past year and hopeful for the upcoming leap year. From a marketer’s perspective, we can look back on 2011 as a year where online marketing took a giant leap of its own. There were three campaigns which stood out by tearing down the walls of a traditional brand execution and immersing their target audience with an experience that left them wanting more.
So without further adieu, the three campaigns which changed the face of marketing on the Internet:
3) Social Life Audit (Ultimat Vodka)
Eliminating the bias that this brand has roots from my homeland, Ultimat captured their brand promise by tying their promise with two key elements: nightlife and vanity. The Social Life Audit takes full advantage of the Facebook Open Graph API by reading a potential clubber’s photos and check-ins to see how truly “cool” they are.
Staying true to the words of David Ogilvy, reinforcing that a good ad is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself, the Social Life Audit draws upon the vanity of its audience to make you feel like you’re ready to take on the night. Combining photos to evoke your memories of good times along with sharp wit and elegant aesthetic, this campaign makes a truly visceral experience that evokes a positive emotion tied to Ultimat Vodka.
(Disclosure: this campaign was a client and I’m more of a whiskey guy)
2) Pleasure Hunt (Magnum Ice Cream)
How many campaigns (regardless of medium) can you imagine where the target audience *wants* to spend 4-5 minutes engaging with the brand? That’s what makes March’s “Pleasure Hunt” by Magnum Ice Cream so unique.
The general premise: you control a beautiful, elegantly dressed woman as she runs through the various treasures that are found online (including a Samsung Galaxy, Dove soap, etc) until you find the ultimate pleasure — Magnum Ice Cream. While advergames have become a bit blase, this one has set a new standard.
This campaign came out at an interesting time for me personally, as it came out right as we launched Paid Discovery at StumbleUpon. It was pretty unique, so I submitted it as a test page to the StumbleUpon community. After a few thousand views, the *average* time spent engaging with this campaign was 2:15. Take that, spot TV buys.
This campaign will hopefully not spark inspiration to create a new wave of advergames in 2012, however it goes to show that a good experience related to your product will take on a life of its own. Since seeding this with a few thousand views with my Paid Discovery test, this campaign has organically received over 700,000 views on StumbleUpon alone. If you assume that the 2:15 average time stands for all views, that’s over 25,000 hours of engaged brand exposure. Not bad.
1) Museum of Me (Intel)
If anyone tells you that before 2011, they saw an online ad campaign which made them want to cry/laugh/hug someone, they would be lying. If they tell you that they saw one in 2011, then it was almost certainly Intel’s Museum of Me.
The kings of brand advertising (considering they don’t sell a product directly to consumers), it’s only natural that Intel released the defining campaign for online marketing in 2011. Taking you on a journey with Facebook Connect, the Museum of Me pulls in your friends, photos, likes and check-ins to produce a technologically intense three minute video of your life as a museum exhibit.
The first time that I saw this campaign, I knew that betting my career on online advertising was the right move. Intel created a connection with me that no other medium could: it personalized an entire museum for me. Along the way, the friends who define my life were there, our photos highlighting special moments we share, the articles/photos/videos we’ve shared with each other, leading up to a mosaic of my profile photo created my images of my friends.
Highlighting technology, but yielding a personal, emotional experience, the Museum of Me has done what years of TV advertising could never do: make me feel lucky to have the life that I have based on the memories I share with friends. If that’s not Grade A advertising, I don’t know what is.
The Museum of Me sets the tone for what advertisers should be thinking about when it comes to online marketing: it’s not about an ad that accompanies a media experience like an article or a video; it’s about creating the media experience that your target audience will want to consume. And when they consume it: they will share it. For years this has been known as word-of-mouth; today, it’s known as sharing on Facebook.
These three campaigns have set the bar for marketers in 2011. We have proven that online campaigns can evoke emotion just as much, if not more, than the stories we tell through 30 second TV spots. With social sharing growing more and more, the barrier to discovering these sites becomes easier, making it more enticing for brands to create these experiences.
Here’s to a big 2012 of innovative and brilliant online campaigns!
Honorable Mentions for Top 2011 Campaigns
Chaos in Your Town (State Farm)
Set in the quiet depths of your home, Chaos in Your Town integrates with the Google Streetview API to show what can happen to your house in case of a robot invasion. A great mix of DR and branding, building a direct mail list plus building a fun experience. More flash heavy than I would care for.
Amble for iPhone (Louis Vuitton)
Mobile campaigns still have a way to go in terms of effective brand advertising vehicles. Amble is an app created by Louis Vuitton which is an interactive form of the heralded travel guides that allows you to create your own guide (cool). They require you to pay $10-15 per guide, making it an offline-to-mobile direct conversion. Even though it’s a luxury brand, it feels like it misses the mark.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony Pictures)
Movie studios were pioneers in creating microsites for movies, ahem Space Jam, but took a back seat to making YouTube channels and Facebook pages for a while. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has brought them back. Dark, dreary and pretty freakin’ terrifying, the site lets you know what you’re in for with one of the better movies of 2012. (Disclosure: client, but the movie is seriously good)