Vox Pop: Brand marketing stunts to remember (Part 3)

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.

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?

Darren Walters, creative director, Harvest Digital

I thought that the Magic of Flying, a campaign that British Airways ran back in 2014 was great. I think it was an innovative way to bring a real world environment into advertising. The adverts were technically complex, but delivered in a simple and exciting way. British Airways delivered a real convergence of advertising and tech, in order to start conversation – which I think is pretty cool.

Kayley Dempsey, head of strategy, Return

Not all marketing stunts involve a huge budget and months of preparation. Oreo spent millions of dollars on its TV ad for the 2013 Super Bowl, but arguably enjoyed greater success with a simple tweet. Play was suspended following a blackout at the New Orleans Superdome. Oreo capitalised on the power failure with a speedily created tweet declaring: “You can still dunk in the dark,” which was retweeted 10,000 times in an hour.

Danny Turnbull, Managing Director, Europe, Stein IAS

Marketing stunts; the very name suggests ill thought-out fireworks being set-off within feet of the watching audience. It could be spectacular, it could be wonderful – or it could be a disaster. Forget stunts, think engagement. Success is all about routing the activity in the DNA of the brand with a single-minded view on communicating, in the most powerful way you can. Realise what it stands for – then you’ll find the magic. It’s all about being bold, seeking the new and engaging with real passion. Some great examples include Direct Line’s Fleetlights campaign by Saatchi and Saatchi, which used drones fitted with GPS to ‘light the way home’, and of course, the first ever agency music festival by Stein IAS, the Unbelievable IAStival!

Ian McKee, social and PR director, Agency UK

The best stunts have brand relevance. Despite being a PR man, I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of marketing stunts. They tend to feel cheap. Not in monetary value, I know it costs to float a giant thing down the Thames, but in brand and engagement value. When you’ve grabbed people’s attention you should have something to say. That’s why the best stunts resonate with the brand’s message. Like Red Bull Stratos — a space related 'first' like Budweiser's pledge, but also an extreme adrenaline driven act that embodied what the brand is about, not to mention its ‘you’ve got wings’ tagline.

Simon Gill, chief creative officer, Isobar

I love Newcastle Brown’s Band of Brands, it’s 2015 Superbowl stunt featuring 37 brands democratized big game advertising, giving tiny businesses a chance to be seen on the largest marketing stage of all. The campaign was a great antidote to the logical progression, borrowed cool, that currently clutters our feeds. It was a standout piece of modern brand strategy. Not only was it an original piece of challenger brand attitude, it also ticked the brand generosity, purpose, fiscal responsibility, creativity, community and entertainment boxes in one record breaking campaign. By being creative they proved you don’t need big bucks to build big buzz.

Louise Gerrard, search executive, Selesti

It would have to be BrewDog. In 10 years, they’ve managed to turn two men and a dog into a craft beer empire vying for global domination. They’ve racked up an impressive amount of successful marketing stunts, The Drum even listed them in their top 10 in October 2016. Which doesn't even include the latest Puppy Parental Leave where employees are allowed a week’s paid leave for the arrival of a new dog or the beer-themed hotel set to open in Columbus. Through positive and negative coverage of stunts, they've proved there's no such thing as bad press, securing 46,000 investors or Equity Punks as BrewDog calls them!

David Johnstone, managing director, After Digital

I love when small brands are creative and gain recognition far beyond their 'budget'. A great example is small Lancashire based shoe retailers, Goodwin Smith, who ran an ambitious and cheeky campaign earlier in the year. As Trump was inaugurated into the Whitehouse, they allegedly dispatched a £100 pair of brogues, a condom and a letter addressed to Trump as "one of the lads with swagger", which they claim elicited quite the response. Whether true or not, their Facebook post showcasing his personalised response letter and the return of their shoes as "due to Whitehouse policy" he was unable to accept gifts (although, we note, the condom was not returned) went viral and earned them over 3.2K reactions and hundreds of shares. Their combination of wit and highjacking topical trends, all of which are in line with their tone of voice, meant this small gimmick has attracted national press coverage and a far wider reaching audience for their brand.

Frederik Bentsen, brand strategist, Likefriends

I personally rated the co-branded ‘Straight Outta’ campaign between the Straight Outta Compton movie and Beats by Dre in 2015 very highly. With a strong understanding of how culture spreads, the initiative proved how successful brands provide value for people, while at the same time getting their own message across. Subtly branded and with room for personalisation, the brands became facilitators for people to exchange stories with their peers. Brands can’t dictate the stories people tell. However, brands can inspire and facilitate the stories people tell by knowing what triggers them and enabling them to make it their own.

See what other members said in parts 1 and 2.

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