As the year comes to a close, it's the perfect time for reflection. And as marketers, that means we can't help but think about how our strategies took shape, how we adapted our tactics and techniques, and of course, how successful they all were.
But it's not enough just to think about how our own campaigns performed; we should also think about what our fellow marketers did so we can apply their lessons to our future campaigns, too. And let me tell you: The year 2012 brought us some of the most exciting and memorable marketing campaigns. With the Olympics and the presidential election under our belts, 2012 was undoubtedly an exciting year for news, and a lot of that excitement spilled over into campaigns in the marketing industry. Some companies focused on leveraging social media, while others did things that were a little bit more unconventional. Whatever their strategy, the following 10 companies' campaigns were truly memorable to us, and they're definitely worth a second look.
Proctor & Gamble: Thank You, Mom
On Mother's Day 2012, P&G launched a campaign called "Thank You, Mom." Throughout the campaign, P&G featured Olympic athletes training from a young age, and emphasized the impact their mothers had on their lives. The "Thank You, Mom" campaign also included the "Raising an Olympian" video series to highlight specific athletes' experiences.
For a company whose products or services aren't directly related to sporting goods, P&G generated more coverage for this campaign than a lot of other companies like Nike whose products relate directly to the Olympics. Each "Raising an Olympian" video received close to 1 million views, and the main "Thank You, Mom" video received about 53 million views. Impressive!
Marketers can learn a lot from P&G's example. Through their effective use of newsjacking, they not only leveraged the popularity of a major, worldwide event, but they also stayed true to the lifestyle of their brand and the audience they cater to. As a result, they were also able to attract a lot of media coverage and thus, reach a global audience. When you're coming up with your next marketing campaign, think about ways you can expand its reach to more people. Could newsjacking be one of them?
Samsung GALAXY S III: The Next Best Thing Is Already Here
In the summer of 2012, Samsung announced the launch of its newest phone, the GALAXY S III. Around the same time, Apple was also planning the launch of its iPhone 5. Bad timing, eh? So how did a company like Samsung break through the noise of one of the most popular brands around -- especially considering it was also a direct competitor? Samsung created a campaign called "The Next Best Thing Is Already Here," which was very careful not to mention Apple by name while making it obvious that Samsung's product was superior to the iPhone 5.
So was it successful? After just one day on the web, the video had been shared 99,294 times, and it generated 2.3 million views. And after three months, it had generated over 17 million views -- and was also being shown in movie theaters.
Samsung was strategic in the making and marketing of this video. First, they focused on the true feature differentiation between the two products; something that every potential buyer cares about but is not always emphasized in brands' marketing. Samsung also made great use of humor to poke fun at Apple addicts in a playful way. And again, while they didn't even mention the Apple or iPhone name, they made it very obvious to anyone watching that it was the brand they were comparing themselves to. Too often, marketers attack their competitors directly to show their differentiation -- which is not something that looks very professional to potential buyers. Think about ways you can show your superiority over competitors while still keeping it clean, like Samsung did.
Rodon Group: Cheaper Than China
HubSpot customer, the Rodon Group launched a campaign to promote its plastic injection molding services as more affordable than using overseas companies in China. They created an ebook entitled, "Top 10 Critical Reasons to Bring Your Plastic Injection Molding Back to the U.S." and created materials to compare and contrast their services with those of overseas companies.
Before they knew it, they were getting press in Bloomberg Businessweek, CNBC, and The Today Show. They were even visited by President Obama while he spoke about the importance of keeping American manufacturing and family-owned businesses competitive.
You may be thinking, "Well, how on Earth am I supposed to get the President to visit me?!" Sure, it's a stretch to think that every business will get this opportunity, but the point is, by aligning your campaigns with current events, your marketing can be even more successful and attract more media coverage due to their timeliness. The debate over hiring employees domestically versus overseas is a hot topic in the news, and the Rodon Group took advantage of that opportunity to promote their business. As a marketer, it's important to stay on top of what's happening in the news -- both in your industry and beyond. You might end up getting an opportunity to newsjack as well!
JetBlue: Election Protection
Ever hear someone say, "If my candidate doesn't win, I'm going to leave the country"? Well, JetBlue actually gave 1,006 lucky customers the opportunity to do so. In its election-themed campaign, the airline asked people to vote for their candidate of choice. If that candidate lost, 1,006 people would be given the opportunity to fly off to some awesome destinations including the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Turks & Caicos, St. Maarten, & the Grand Cayman.
The campaign video got close to 100,000 views and hundreds of media placements. Thousands of people participated in the contest and anxiously awaited the results (some of which I'm sure some were torn between winning a vacation or their chosen candidate winning the election ;-).
Like the P&G example, this campaign was creative because it took a company that had nothing to do with politics and afforded them a piece of the popular election pie. Important events like this -- which millions of people are already talking about -- can be a great opportunity for your next marketing campaign. Think about what current events are on the horizon and if there are ways to maximize their popularity for your business. So many companies have had success with this strategy ... you could, too!
Red Bull: Stratos Jump
When you think of Red Bull, you may think of their creative tagline, "Red Bull gives you wings." Well this year, Red Bull decided to put that tagline into the hearts and minds of their audience by hiring Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner to break the world record of the longest freefall jump of 128,000 feet above the Earth, reaching the high speed of 833.9 miles per hour. Talk about intense!
Over 8 million people watched the jump live, and over 30 million people have relived the jump on YouTube since then. Furthermore, the live jump was shown by over 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull's Facebook photo of the jump generated 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments, and over 29,000 shares. The jump was also a trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
Breaking world records is always an exciting way to garner some attention. Last year at HubSpot, we broke the world record for the largest webinar, and it was a huge success. One of the reasons it worked so well was because it aligned with our mission to educate people about marketing. Red Bull's jump also aligned with its tagline, "Red Bull gives you wings." As a marketer, you always want to make sure your marketing campaigns are aligning with your company's mission and the interests of your audience. You may not always have the opportunity to break a world record, but an important lesson from Red Bull is to remember that your company's culture and mission should also be taken into consideration when executing any campaign.
Autodesk: Leveraging the Behavior Platform by Badgeville
Not every noteworthy marketing campaign has to come from big brands. The last thing you might expect from a B2B company is to launch a campaign based on gamification. Autodesk creates 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software, and their biggest challenge is figuring out how to get people to use their trial more. Why? Because their data showed that people who used the software at least three times during a 30-day trial were more likely to purchase the software. Influenced by this data, they decided to create missions for people to interact with the software more during the trial. Players would be rewarded with points and achievement badges.
And after gamifying the experience, they saw a 10% increase in trial downloads and a 40% increase in trial usage. Not too shabby!
To gamify your audience's experience, you don't necessarily have to use points and badges. You can create contests in social media or use other tactics to increase engagement. The purpose of gamification is to play into a person's competitive side and make an experience, such as using software, more enjoyable or fun.
Square: Cash Register Launch
Square started out as a payment system. In March, however, the company decided to take over the retailer business as well by launching an app that serves as a cash register. The app has pictures and prices for everything the store sells and can quickly ring up items and collect payment. Customers then sign their name on the app to confirm the purchase -- an even easier setup than a regular cash register.
Furthermore, Square thought about everything a small business owner would want and incorporated into their app. Retailers now have the opportunity to access analytics such as real-time sales data and keep better track of the products that are more successful. At the same time the register was announced, they also announced that the company handles $4 billion in payment each year and process about $2 billion in payments.
Square was strategic to announce a major improvement to their business model while also announcing important revenue data. Product announcements aren't easy, but between the video and the business' detailed website, it was easy for small business owners to understand the simplicity of the new product, as well as the reliability and credibility of the business.
TNT: Push to Add Drama
When the network TNT launched in Belgium, they made a pretty big splash. They chose a normally quiet square in Belgium and placed a large arrow that said "Push to add drama," (influenced by TNT's tagline, "We know drama"). After that, chaos ensued.
In less than 2 days, TNT had generated over 6.5 million views. Eight months later, there are close to 40 million views on YouTube.
Experiential marketing is not easy, but TNT managed to pull it off successfully while also ingraining the message that they are the network for drama. While thinking of your next campaign, even if it doesn't leverage experiential marketing, think about how you can ensure that your audience walks away thinking about the message your company wants to promote.
Invisible Children: Kony
In March 2012, Invisible Children launched a video to bring awareness to the violence from Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). There were positive and negative reactions to the video when it went viral. On a positive note, some people thought it brought awareness to a global issue needed to be addressed. On a negative note, some people thought it did not properly highlight the facts of the issue.
The video went viral with help from celebrities including Oprah Winfrey; it generated over 16.6 million views on Vimeo and over 94 million views on YouTube. More than 1/3 of the U.S. Senate has supported the capture of Kony.
If you're a nonprofit, take a look at the example set by Invisible Children. Even though they weren't a well-known organization and were supporting a cause that was also not very well-known, they were able to receive global attention through the marketing of this video. Think about your mission and cause, and who you may want to align with to accomplish your goals. Invisible Children saw an opportunity to work with celebrities like Oprah to get the word out, and they were extremely successful. Even if you can't get the attention of Oprah, think about partnerships that can help you generate awareness and capture the attention of your audience on a larger scale.
General Electric: Experts
B2B companies are not always known for the most creative campaigns. But General Electric is definitely an exception. Across platforms including Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, General Electric has a consistent and engaging message that speaks to its customers and engages followers. They also commonly feature the people behind their brand to give a friendly face to a billion dollar company.
General Electric's ability to give their company a face makes them an expert in marketing. Their Experts page allows their employees to connect with customers all over the world in a transparent and social way. Employees from all over the world are encouraged to create content, even if they aren't marketers, making that content personal, interesting, and engaging.
If you think your company cannot or should not be transparent, use GE as an example. They use their transparency to humanize a brand that is often hard to feel a connection with.
What other marketing campaigns really stood out to you in 2012?
Originally published Dec 17, 2012 7:58:00 AM, updated August 27 2017