Digital marketing campaigns exist in all shapes and forms in today’s online world; from short form video adverts meant to raise brand awareness to simplistic email campaigns with eye-catching offers and deals for customers to splash out on. Creativity is key when it comes to creating a successful digital ad campaign and, in this week’s Design & Build UK blog, we’re going to explore some of the most creative, inspiring digital ad campaigns of the year, so far. We’ll discuss who was behind the digital ad campaign, what their clients’ intentions were, and whether they really achieved what they set out to do.
- McDonald’s McDelivery – “Skip the Dishes” (DDB Prague)
“Have you ever thought about the time you spent with the kitchen sink? Well, we have. And as it was quite unpleasant thinking, we came up with a campaign that brings a good piece of advice for everyone: skip the dishes. In the time you save, be with whoever you love. Bring peace to the world, read or sleep or do whatever you want. Life has a lot more to offer than just dishes.”
This is the message that Czech digital marketing agency, DDB Prague wanted to get across when creating their McDelivery advert earlier this year.
The introduction of McDonalds’ (long overdue) UK delivery service in 2017 – aptly named ‘McDelivery’ – gave the fast food chain an opportunity to target an already strong student market. In an interview with Art Director’s Club Czech Republic, Creative director of Prague DDB, Gert Laubscher said: “The client wanted us to bring tactical executions within the entire McDelivery integrated campaign which will be targeted at various groups such as players or students.”
Students have been in the eyes of McDonalds’ marketing and strategy plans for some time now. Their offerings of free items upon showing a student ID card, as well as their relatively cheap menu has made McDonald’s the more accessible fast food chain option amongst student circles across the country.
The “Skip the Dishes” ad was not only a simple, visually appealing, and clever digital ad campaign, it relayed a message to students that are, stereotypically, averse to household chores in favour of more time consuming matters of coursework, essays, and – probably more realistically – partying.
Outside of the student market, DDB Prague are clearly trying to connect with those for whom life should be spent in the best possible way, who may be spending too much time doing things that don’t directly affect their positive mental wellbeing. Keeping on top of household tasks as well as everything else in a society that can be very nonstop for some working folk can become too much, and this simplistic imagery conveys a message that McDonald’s is there to alleviate some of the burden that modern life wields every now and then.
According to a Facebook post from DDB Prague, their “Skip the Dishes” even won the AdParade February Edition 2020 from Art Director’s Club Czech Republic. This ad campaign is proof that when your brand is big enough, all it takes to connect to a niche audience is a tagline and a little imagination.
- Haring B Detox Mouthwash – “Satisfyingly gross.” (Routes 4 Media)
With sites such as YouTube and Instagram booming in popularity recent years, the rise of personality-based visual media has skyrocketed alongside it. Content creators who have amassed vast swathes of online followers on their respective sites, and the subsequent reach that they hold has not gone unnoticed from digital marketing agencies. These ‘social media influencers’ can earn a pretty penny from taking on brand deals with companies to promote their brand, and essentially influence their following to buy what they’re paid to sell.
When oral healthcare brand Haring B approached digital advertising agency, Routes 4 Media, they needed social media content that would convert scrollers to customers of their Detox mouthwash product.
What resulted was a series of introductory content designed to pull social interaction and drive immediate sales, as well as “incredibly engaging and viral video content, designed to perform across social.” This included sponsored review posts from Instagram influencers and lifestyle bloggers such as ‘Alymommydarling’, Tom Strickland and Patricia Santos who boast over 100k followers between them.
On top of the sponsored reviews on social media, Routes 4 Media created a series of compelling videos showing the visual results of using the Detox mouthwash, backed by influencer testimonials and the tagline “Satisfyingly gross”.
This digital marketing campaign was a success for Haring B, enjoying higher social interactions and over $600,000 of revenue in 3 months.
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- Heinz/McDonald’s Quarantine Jigsaw Puzzles – ReThink/TBWA Belgium
Impromptu lockdown across the globe had people thinking of creative ways to entertain themselves. As well as modern entertainment avenues such as video games (which saw a 29% rise in sales during the month of March alone) some more traditional activities that tore quarantiners from their screen saw a spike in popularity, including jigsaw puzzles.
To capitalise on this surprise trend and to keep the fast food titan in the minds of customers even whilst their restaurants were closed, McDonald’s teamed up with TBWA/Belgium to create a 500-piece Burger puzzle.
They then gave away 20 sets of the puzzle via an Instagram contest which required followers to share the post and all sorts of different social media interaction in an attempt to maintain brand awareness throughout quarantine.
Not long after McDonald’s revealed their jigsaw puzzle, Heinz revealed their own; sold as the “world’s slowest puzzle” with 570 pieces of identical red. As well as another Instagram reveal and giveaway contest, Heinz brought out a short video advert relating to the experiences of those under quarantine:
“Heinz knows that good things take time.”
“And right now, we all have a little more time”
The video ends with a call to action for the audience to flock to social media and to “Tell us who you’d finish this with.”
These digital ad campaigns aren’t unique in their approach to exploiting the weariness of quarantine to consumers – in fact, this video playfully mocks the homogenised nature of pandemic-related digital ad campaigns in one big supercut, and how they all use the same techniques and tropes to pull on the heartstrings of their audience through overused clichés and buzz phrases such as “here for you”, “we’ll get through this together” and “times like these.”
There are a few things that distinguish these loosely-coronavirus based digital ad campaigns from others though. Firstly, they take on a different tone than the over-romanticised melancholy of other companies’ campaigns. Instead of focusing on the lost connections (or the newfound connections, depending on what message was trying to be put across), these two companies went for a lighter approach to people’s quarantine experience; acknowledging the equally prevalent boredom and monotony as opposed to the deeper, more serious sentiments of loneliness and hopelessness that audiences don’t always want to be reminded of. Whilst it wouldn’t make business sense for these companies in particular to capitalise on people’s loneliness, what this approach did was provide levity in an otherwise sombre advertising environment.
Secondly, they both sold something that was way outside of their respective produce as food companies. Its doubtful that these campaigns existed to create revenue lost from lower spending – in fact, the Kraft Heinz Company saw a pleasant 3% growth due to an increase in demand for easy to make meals – but the decision to sell a product outside of their usual produce as a means of maintaining brand awareness and customer interaction is one not seen amongst many brands.
Of all the coronavirus-focused digital ad campaigns, the jigsaw puzzle trend campaign was a clever move by these two huge companies, not only in providing an alternative way of staying occupied, but also by being a beacon of humour and levity in a time where positivity was lacking, and keeping interaction on their social media platforms alive.
- IKEA – #StayHome (McCann Spain)
Ad campaigns, primarily video-based ads, cash in on the emotions their audience are feeling at the time. This can be seasonal – Christmas ads typically focus on the bonds we share with family and our sense of community (usually accompanied by the sights and sounds of a crackling log fire), ad campaigns in the summer are often set in a sun lit vista, with drinks in hands and the sense of freedom and adventure oozing from every shot.
Suffice it to say the emotional consensus of the year so far has largely drawn on the effects that quarantine has had on our mental wellbeing. As discussed in the last section, the commonplace side effects – loneliness, melancholy, anxiety – have all, for better or worse, been reflected in the ad campaigns of the past few months; and with good reason.
According to an article posted on Contently.com, “Emotions…have a more profound impact on our actions; create lasting, instinctual impressions; and predispose us to follow the same course of action in the future.”
But there’s an argument to be made that these ad campaigns are somewhat cynical, or at the very least purposefully self-fulfilling. If we are exposed to intentionally sombre advertising, then any feelings of sadness or despair are just being reinforced. Sometimes a change in perspective is all we need.
That’s why IKEA Spain’s #StayHome ad campaign in partnership with McCann Spain stands out amongst many others. It reminds audiences that our homes are more than the temporary jail cell that it’s been otherwise made out to be.
“I’m still the place where your children have grown up. Where you have celebrated good news and taken refuge from the bad. I’m the place where you can be yourself.”
“Maybe this is the time to rearrange our furniture”, it continues, “or get our heads in order.”
Now, if any company is going to run a digital ad campaign that highlights the positive aspects of our home, it’s going to be the worlds biggest furniture store – naturally. However, this short film ad campaign avoids a direct call to action for its audience and remains true to its responsibility to encourage people to stay at home, whilst inviting us to see our homes from a different angle; as a place to enjoy new experiences and try something new.
The video was clearly effective; gaining impressive engagement on Twitter, totalling 3.3m views, which leads me onto the location of the ad. Placing it on social media was a clever move given that by mid-March – when Spain was under full lockdown – the number of people scrolling through Twitter and other social media sites as a way of passing lockdown time would’ve been notably higher than in a usual scenario.
These were just a handful of the dozens of digital ad campaigns that are worth noting from this year alone, but these 4 in particular highlight the depth and breadth that digital marketing companies can dive into in order to either sell a product, maintain brand awareness, or create a loyal customer base. The variety of digital ad campaigns discussed on this blog alone reveals the flexibility that the digital space can provide for marketing companies, and the possibilities awarded to brands who embrace the rewards that digital marketing can bring them.
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