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Vox Pop: Brand marketing stunts to remember (Part 2)

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Clockwise from top left: Rocketmill, AB UK, Propeller, iCrossing, Underscore, That Lot, Connect Group, Navigate Digital

Beer giant Budweiser has just launched its new campaign at SXSW which involves a push to be the first human product to be consumed when man eventually steps foot on Mars.

As scientists search for life on Mars and plot a way for people to live there in the future, Budweiser is hard at work figuring out how to make life in space a little more fun by developing a beer made just for the Red Planet.

We asked our Drum Network members what their favourite brand marketing stunts have been in the past few years and why?

Sian Leaker, head of strategic services, RocketMill

'Meatspace' - this stunt consisted of a lamb chop from a well known Indian restaurant in London being sent into space to promote a new book called Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla from the publisher Foyles. A simple but brilliant idea of taking the title literally, and marketing it through a truly off the wall stunt that captured peoples attention and got them immediately asking the question “why has this been done?” and “whats it for?" which led to the video going viral overnight. What seemed like a small and fun campaign gained a huge following for the book and great publicity for the brand.

James Murphy, digital marketing executive, AB

Marketing stunts aren’t defined by the agreeability or unanimous approval they receive, the success of them is defined by how they get people talking. For me, Peta’s 'Animal Milk' prank did this. Using innocent bystanders as willing participants they offered free samples of a "new milk." The drink itself was soy milk, a Vegan product, but those who tried the drink were told it was dogs/rats milk. The purpose of the campaign was to spark a debate about the dairy industry, which it definitely did, so for me, a job well done and a stunt well pulled off.

Tamara Gavriloff, marketing and brand manager, Propeller

KFC has definitely not missed a beat with its extremely on-trend use of the millennial zeitgeist: wellness and bloggers. Obviously its product catalogue of deep-fried poultry and potatoes doesn’t exactly lend itself to the clean eating trend and so they worked around this by creating their own 'clean-eating' blogger, Figgy Poppleton-Rice and then trolling her by ‘crashing’ her content with their latest products. Fun and laughs all round and most importantly, #OnPoint.

Sam Mangialavori, seo analyst, iCrossing

Without a doubt, Spotify's 'Thanks 2016, It's Been Weird'. It’s the brand's largest global campaign to date, and it succeeded in keeping a very consistent core message, while making it as relevant and local as possible across countries. The banner with 'Dear 3,749 people who streamed It's The End Of The World As We Know It the day of the Brexit Vote. Hang in There.' was undoubtedly the best out of the ones I spotted in London, but the company also ran similarly witty ads in New York. It has also been rolling out emails that are tailored to their customers' personal usage/taste in music, which is one of the best examples of personalised marketing I have come across.

Pippa Calvin, account manager, Underscore

In December 2016, Nike announced 'Breaking 2', its moon-shot attempt to break two hours in the marathon- a feat previously thought impossible. While the audacious project has faced criticism as being just another publicity stunt, these critics missed the point. Whether or not these athletes are successful, and regardless of the project’s motivations, the attempt itself will add incredible value to the sport of running, as well as the sports science community at large. And after all, that’s what a great campaign should be about.

Barney Worfolk-Smith, business director, That Lot

Although not strictly a brand campaign, BETC's 'Like my addiction' campaign for the French addiction charity Addict Aide was something else. I love campaigns that have the balls to slow burn in the background, building up to a crescendo. T​his did that for 2 months. It was also timely, deftly parodying how shallow some aspects of Instagram can be, just as influencer marketing is back on the marketing agenda. Using bots was uber smart also, gaming the system whilst saving the client money. Finally, creatively, it really got me. The juxtaposition of the heavy message and the bright, breezy shots of Louise Delage made a big impact.

Claire Parkes, PR and marketing manager, Connect Group

I was seriously impressed by Amazon Prime's activation promoting its original series 'American Playboy' at SXSW this year. After RSVP'ing to a secret invitation, we were greeted by a Hugh Heffner lookalike with a "welcome to the mansion" and entered the world of Playboy. Happily providing intelligence at every touchpoint via our RFID wristbands, we were rewarded with access to personalised boxer shorts, a sneak preview of the show and finally, a first look at the new delivery drone. If one of the main objectives of brand activation is to get consumers to act then this nailed it.

David Walby, biddable account director, Navigate Digital

In these strange times, companies and brands who truly strive to transcend what they sell and go beyond the call of duty, stand to be rewarded greatly with customer affection and reinforce loyalty. Last year Patagonia chief executive Rose Marcario pledged to donate Black Friday proceeds to charities in line with its ethically-correct environmental brand. She announced the move in a statement saying that the company wants to help its customers "show love to the planet." She also hinted strongly that the move was a deliberate response to the election of a certain toupee-touting president, who has publicly denied the existence of climate change. Brand marketing stunts are infinitely more powerful when sitting on the intersection between philanthropy, environmentalism & politics.

See what other members had to say in Part 1.

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Andy Black

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