The average person living in a city
is estimated to see more than 5,000 advertising messages each day. In order for a brand’s message to be effective amidst all that noise, its advertising needs to be not only clever and visually appealing, but memorable and unique in its approach, as well.
But while consumers know this sort of advertising when they see it, the thought and strategy that brands and their agencies use to strike the right emotional chord might not be immediately obvious. That’s why the Interactive Advertising Bureau took a closer look at the most successful digital campaigns of 2013, which it rewarded with its IAB Mixx awards.
To do so, the IAB asked a group of industry experts to help figure out just what it was that made such an impression on the people who saw stellar 2013 campaigns like the Coke video chat machines that connected Pakistanis with Indians and Axe body spray’s Susan Glenn ads that followed a man’s pursuit of “the one who got away.”
While the ads succeeded for different reasons, they all had two things in common: great storytelling and strong visuals.
In an effort to reverse its well-earned reputation as a brand for misogynist men who hope to control women, Axe created a campaign aimed at flipping the script by showing the power women have over men. To do this, Axe and its agency, BBH New York, surreptitiously went around the internet planting the seeds for a viral meme by the name of 'Susan Glenn.'
On Tumblrs, slang dictionaries, and message boards, Axe representatives described 'Susan Glenn' as the one super attractive, cool woman every man has lusted after but never had the courage to ask out on a date. The Unilever brand ultimately revealed it was behind the meme with a commercial starring Kiefer Sutherland as a forlorn adult wishing he'd had the guts to approach his Susan Glenn, depicted as an otherworldly high-school girl who sent everyone she encountered into a daze. The commercial encouraged men to wear Axe body spray and 'Fear no Susan Glenn.'
The Axe ad was successful because the brand listened to its customer base of frustrated adolescents and young men and found a fundamental truth: most of the brand's desired customers seemed to know (or had at least seen) a woman they desperately wanted, but didn't know how to approach. In creating 'Susan Glenn,' Axe was able to use this truth to present itself as a brand that both understands and provides the antidote to the anxieties of its customers in the 15-21 year-old male demographic.
'Susan Glenn is a fantastic example of modern storytelling across different media,' said Susan Credle, chief creative officer at the advertising agency Leo Burnett. 'The team created a conversation that was just waiting to be had through a simple creative idea: who is or was your Susan Glenn? A breathtaking piece of film took this conversation to the masses.'
'The Beauty Inside' was a six-part, 30-minute online film made by Intel, Toshiba, and their agency, Pereira O'Dell, to stress the importance of inner beauty -- not just with regard to human beings, but the Intel chips inside every Toshiba laptop.
The story centered on a character named Alex, who wakes up every morning in a different body, and falls in love with a woman named Leah. Because Alex was a different person every day, Intel and Toshiba invited the public to try out for roles in the series and to film themselves saying certain lines of dialogue, which were then included in the series.
The videos, which included beautiful cinematography and a touching, happy ending, generated more than 70 million views worldwide and an approval rate of 97% on YouTube.
According to Elizabeth Pizzinato, SVP for marketing and communications at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, 'The Beauty Inside' was a hit because it tied in perfectly to the reason people use social media in the first place: to share their stories with the world.
'The Beauty Inside was an impressive campaign because it leveraged the core element of what makes social media tick: the ability for users to not only share stories, but also to actively participate in an emotional storyline that develops over time,' Pizzinato said. 'One particularly strong aspect was the campaign's multilingual capability, the way it intelligently reflected the native language of the participants. This element made for an even more powerful campaign with true global appeal.'
In doing so, Intel and Toshiba allowed the public to help them tell a story about an item (the computer chip) that is often difficult to form a narrative around.
Coca-Cola and its agency Leo Burnett earned more than 58 million social media impressions with their 'Small World Machines,' which were video chat terminals that allowed Pakistanis and Indians to connect with each other in real time. The machines were placed in public spaces in Pakistan and India, and beckoned citizens of the rival nations to virtually touch hands and create visual art by tracing the designs on the touchscreen terminals.
Here's a video of what it looked like:
(video provider='vimeo' id='66496993' size='xlarge' align='center')
JWT chief creative officer Jeff Benjamin said 'Small World Machines' satiated consumer desire to see brands take bold risks and create social good beyond the products they sell to the public. Coca-Cola was one of several brands to make an ad this year about bridging the divide between India and Pakistan, joining a Google ad that highlighted the power of its geolocation and search technologies.
'What I love about this is that there is an opportunity for us as advertisers and marketers to do things that matter,' Benjamin said. 'We talk a lot about technical innovation, but sometimes there is just an insightful, we're-just-going-to-matter type of innovation. It's putting love and heart into the world through brands and making that brand stand for something in a way that it hadn't before. Brands that matter are the ones that succeed.'
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