In a world where every medium is a chance to sell, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by mediocre messaging and boring branding. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a company going out of the box with their marketing and taking a risk to reach their audience. For me, discovering a wacky new marketing campaign is somewhat akin to that first, huge inhale after holding your breath through the tunnel on your way home. (Did anybody else do that? Come on, I can’t be the only one.) For some reason, it’s just rejuvenating.
That’s why I decided to compile six of my favorite such campaigns. All six of these are creative, well-executed, and completely off-the-wall, which is also the reason they did so well. Get inspired by the way these companies took risks to stand out–and perhaps they’ll inspire a big epiphany that will get your own company on the map.
Textbook rental company Half.com had a brilliant idea for publicity: get a city named after themselves. With the help of $110,000 and a few gifts, this company actually managed to get the town of Halfway, Oregon to change its name to Half.com for an entire year. Crazy? Yes. But the ensuing publicity could likely be the reason that Half.com was acquired by Ebay just a few months later.
I could hardly write this list without including the famous Old Spice campaign called “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”
This unforgettable campaign, which featured former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, paid off for Old Spice. Not only did it amass 50 million views on YouTube, but it also got the attention of celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and Demi Moore and led to a 107% increase in body wash sales within 30 days of the campaign launch.
Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
Though not as well known as some of the other campaigns on this list, the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Month at the Museum” competition was extremely creative and led to a huge increase in exposure and visitors. The winner of the competition got the chance to actually live at the museum for a month and earn $10,000 while creating huge social media exposure for the campaign. The museum received over 1500 entries from all over the world, and the whole process got attention from major news stations, almost doubled their Facebook likes, and engaged over 400 blogs.
Blair Witch Project
The campaign surrounding this low-budget 1999 horror film changed the way that movies were marketed, but it was a huge risk to take for the small production company Haxan Films to take. The film was advertised as “found footage,” a concept that would be perpetuated in the future by movies like Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield.
The movie’s website, set up prior to the movie’s release, featured fake police reports and video interviews. The site was added to as time progressed, making it seem like a real-life investigation. This perception of the film as a documentary created huge buzz around the movie and led directly to its amazing success: with a budget of $22,000, Blair Witch Project went on to make a whopping $248 million.
Volvo Trucks needed a way to advertise their first major launch in 20 years, and so they enlisted the help of Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors to do something no one had ever done before. The campaign involved launching six videos that used extreme stunts to demonstrate the new features of the trucks. You may have seen the final video in that series….
According to the agency, this genius campaign generated 20,000 media reports wordwide, and in a recent survey of truck owners, almost half of those who had seen the campaign said they would probably choose Volvo the next time they bought a truck.
Poo-Pourri is a fantastic example of taking a difficult situation and turning it into marketing gold. The product is a spray that claims to completely eliminate bathroom odors–but how do you market something like that? Instead of shying away from the more awkward aspects of their product, Poo-Pourri chose to OWN it with the “Girls Don’t Poop” campaign.
I actually personally know of a few of the people who worked on this video, so I’m a bit biased, but the YouTube virality and ensuing publicity speak for themselves: this campaign was a bit of marketing genius.
What are the strangest successful campaigns that you’ve come across? Why do you think they worked? Let us know in the comments below.