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Don't give me an ad, give me something fun or useful

Posted by
15 October 2009
1 comment

These days, everybody in the marketing and advertising industry is talking about giving people ‘experiences’, rather than shouting at them with advertising messages. Or at least the smart segment of ‘everybody’ is talking about it.

It requires the kind of thinking that starts from the ‘audience’, not from the brand. What do they get out of it?
Seems obvious to me. When I’ve had to come up with a brief-specific idea, I’ve always used 2 criteria to test ideas. Will it keep people entertained? Or is it useful; will it make people’s lives easier and/or can they learn something from it?

Anyway, the shift in focus means that recently, there’s been some interesting examples of ‘experience advertising’. Either online, where it can go viral. Or in real life, where it gives people a fun, exciting,… experience.

A much talked about example of the first is the Puma Index, a fun idea in these drab economic times that links the stock market to some PUMA-wearing models. If the index goes down, their clothes come off. Pretty clever, but a bit boring when the indexes go up.

A good example of the second category, real-life, is the piano stairs campaign that Volkswagen did in Stockholm. Overnight, the steps of a tube station’s exit were turned into piano keys, which made people take the stairs rather than the elevator.

At first it wasn’t 100% clear as to why VW would do this, but it turns out it’s all part of the Fun Theory ‘campaign’, a website dedicated to the idea that fun is the easiest way to change behaviour. Financed by Volkswagen, I presume. As BBH Labs’ Mel Exon puts it

“(I’m) wondering whether brands should stop marketing themselves and start marketing the good stuff they believe in.”

Or, rather than creating new content, brands should start attaching themselves to existing niche content content curators. Sort of like sponsoring, indeed. There’s an interesting discussion going on about content curation Rohit Bhargava’s blog.

And I just wanted to point out a 3rd example, which combines a transmedia approach with good old excitement anticipation. It’s an Uruguyan campaign for Axe, called ‘Day & Night‘, where guys were asked to send an SMS, after the watershed of 9PM, to receive the missing body parts of a ‘naughty’ print ad. A smart, playful way of making your target audience think about you all day long.


And if you want more: 2 days ago @GuyKawasaki tweeted about this BoredPanda blogpost that lists 33 creative ambient ads. Some great work in there from all over the world. Still semi-shouting, but I must admit more than one of those examples grabbed my attention.

Proof once more that people are becoming media channels in their own right. We’re working on a blogpost about why content is now the king it’s always promised to be, so more about later.

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1 Comment

  • Posted by PC modding
    August 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation however I find this topic to be truly something which I think I would by no means fully grasp. It seems like too complicated and incredibly broad for me. I will be looking forward for your forthcoming post, I will attempt to get the hang of it.

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