Unconventional Wisdom – Crazy Marketing Campaigns That Actually Worked

We live in an age of information overload. Consumers are soaking up social media posts, articles, how-to videos, and pop ups at an alarming rate. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we tend to favor bite-sized bits of information that are quick and easy to digest. At the rate we take in information every day, it’s no wonder why businesses are always clamoring for attention. There are over 18 million businesses in the U.S alone – each of them with their own brand and idea of how to market.

In such a convoluted industry, it takes a little creativity (and maybe a little craziness) to get recognized. The marketing world is highly competitive, and marketing strategists are always looking for ways to stand out. As you can imagine, this can lead to some pretty off-the-wall marketing campaigns, some of which are complete failures, others a great success.

Almost all campaigns start with a basic goal: attracting a wider (and usually younger) audience, but it’s the route these campaigns take to get there that leaves people wondering if maybe they got a little lost along the way. A select few businesses embraced some rather outrageous marketing schemes that totally worked. Whether these campaigns were a stroke of genius or a moment of lunacy is up to you to decide.

Half.com Bought a Town

There is definitely something to be said in partnerships for co-branding, but buying and renaming an entire town after your brand seems a little overboard, right? Well, apparently not. During the dot-com craze in the late 1990s, the startup e-commerce company Half.com struck a deal with a small town in Oregon.

The town of Halfway received incentives like company stock, internet access, and $20,000 in exchange for changing its name to Half.com for a year. In addition to receiving these valuable incentives, the town also saw a boost in tourism and publicity as “America’s First Dot-com City.” The website saw its fair share of recognition, too. Five months after the publicity stunt, the startup was purchased by eBay for $300 million. Not too bad for a company that started out as a humble textbook rental service.

Unconventional Wisdom Takeaway: Don’t be afraid of looking for opportunities in nontraditional places. Creative thinking and unlikely partnerships can give your business a fresh approach to co-branding.

Oreo Made a (Sort-of) Cooking Show

Oreo’s newest campaign started as a series of short “snack hack” videos on a Vine, an app that lets users share 6-second clips. The debuting videos showed interesting ways to eat Oreo cookies, like using a pepper grinder to turn the cookies into sprinkles. Oreo let fans get involved by encouraging them to hashtag their own ideas as #OreoSnackHacks, and the ideas came flooding in. Next, Oreo created a YouTube channel and tapped into the minds of professional cooks, letting three LA chefs whip up a few creations of their own. The channel featured dishes like Oreo-crusted chicken tenders, Oreo tortilla chips, and an Oreo shandy. The OreoSnackHacks hashtag can now be seen across every social media platform, including Vine, Pinterest, Twitter and Tumblr. Are you craving Oreos yet?

OreoSnackHacks

Unconventional Wisdom Takeaway – Embracing new media outlets is always a good way to stay on top of digital marketing. Let consumers see your company culture by posting pictures to Instagram, or become an industry thought leader by uploading how-to videos to a company YouTube channel. Pinterest will soon be integrating a new ad, API, that will automate buying promoted pins, and Instagram now features clickable ads for brands. It’s a great time to start exploring new social media territory.

EVOC DIY’ed an Interactive Billboard

Product centered businesses with giant budgets usually stick by the tried-and-true “buy a billboard and put it on a highway” trick. But EVOC, a company that makes indestructible backpacks, didn’t have that kind of budget. In a genius DIY-ad-meets-circus-strongman-game, EVOC strapped a backpack to a billboard, rigged up a camera, and asked passersby to test their strength by punching, kicking, or head butting the backpack. The abuser’s strength score would be displayed above the backpack, while the camera would capture images and upload them to EVOC’s Facebook page alongside the stats.

Participants were encouraged to share and tag their photos and learned a little bit about the product and brand in the meantime. For a cost-effective campaign, EVOC’s marketing trick was tremendously successful, increasing their Facebook activity by 220%. The reason the campaign was such a hit was because it spoke to individual people on a subconscious level, letting them have fun and de-stress while tapping into the natural desire for competition and bragging rights.

Unconventional Wisdom Takeaway – Don’t let a small marketing budget douse your creative fire. With a little extra work, EVOC came up with a budget friendly solution that combined guerilla marketing, social media involvement, and product education for a successful outcome.

Poo-Pourri Makes Bathroom Jokes

Poo-Pourri is a pre…um…movement toilet-bowl spray made with essential oils. Its clever packaging features a label that is reminiscent of vintage French perfume ads with an elegantly displayed “Poo-Pourri” across an unwound scroll of toilet paper. But it’s not just their label that’s clever. In 2013, The company released its first attempt at social media campaigning. The video was an absolute success.

Within three months, Poo-Pourri saw over 12,000 YouTube subscribers and a 70% increase to their Facebook fan base. How was this campaign so successful? Its “Girls Don’t Poop” video opens with a beautiful girl with a British accent sitting on the toilet, talking about the “mother lode” she just dropped. Naturally, it went viral and now has over 32 million views. The company knew they had to market a traditionally taboo subject, so they threw inhibition to the wind and went all out – and it worked.

Unconventional Wisdom Takeaway – Even seemingly uninteresting or unmarketable products can be infused with a little dose of fun. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and show some brand personality, no matter how quirky it is.

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Jessica Johnson

Jess has been writing (and sometimes illustrating) stories since childhood. She has a background in Creative Writing and Art History, and is always looking for new ways to learn and grow as a writer. She enjoys writing fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.

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