Tag Archives: stunts

The Power of Surprise

I got married this September. It was done semi-secretly, so my friends in Singapore did not have opportunity to organize a bachelor party. I thought I was off the hook, but learned to my surprise that you can apparently have a bachelor party although you are already married. I was kidnapped from my morning run to a flight to Saigon. And the rest was history. Luckily all the kidneys are intact, no tigers were in hotel room and no one got a tattoo to a face.

In addition to a heightened appreciation for the great friends I have, this weekend reminded me of the power of surprise.

Surprise is one of the greatest emotions in the world that brands can tap into. There has been a flood of surprise & delight campaigns, but still good campaign always works. Surprise also comes with a range of different emotions. Sometimes the brand does not flex to be funny or really sentimental, but almost every brand can surprise (hopefully in a positive way). As long as the surprise is meaningful and/or really outrageous, the surprise & delight will work.

Many of the surprise and delight campaigns have been one-off stunts but the best brands have made it as a part of their brand behavior. KLM is a prime example of this and their latest “Cover greetings” just gets the job done:

Mastercard has also done great job by building a surprise platform with their Priceless Surprises:

One of my all-time favorite “surprise & delight” campaigns has been this Coke campaign for overseas Filipino workers. If this does not get you emotional, I don´t know what will:

These examples show that, it is not necessarily about the budget or the most overboard surprise, it is about the meaning of the surprise for the recipient. If you can spark a genuine human emotion, the surprise works.

There are naturally quite a lot of lackluster surprises. Especially this is true with one sub-category of surprise campaigns: prankvertising. Humor is always delicate matter and one man´s prank is other man´s insult. To every awesome Pepsi Max Stunt (or Uncle Drew anyone), there is always the raining bus stop –stunts, which just makes you question quite hard the future of our industry.

To put the flood of surprise campaigns in proper perspective, this “surprise video” really cracked me up:

It is funny because it is true.

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39.045 KM: The New High for Advertising

“Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are.”

Felix Baumgartner not only made the world´s highest parachute jump. And he not only did the record height manned balloon flight or had the greatest free fall velocity.

He is also the future of advertising. Or actually, Red Bull is.

Red Bull made the jump possible with their Stratos-project. Stratos is a textbook example of the new marketing gathering them millions worth of free publicity. When you only have your brand as the differentiator from the competition, you have to change the traditional rulebook. Also if the marketing is pretty much your only cost item, should you do something that stands out with all that money?

Why you should jump from 39 km to succeed in advertising in 2012?

From advertisements to acts.
Once upon a time, there used to be brand films. These long (at least longer than regular tv-spots) films were on top of every advertising creative wish list, because they let you capture the brand essence and flex your creative muscles. Some relics still mourn for the brand films.

The world´s highest parachute jump is the brand film of the next generation.

We cannot get back to the times of the brand film and the one-sided broadcasting era. If we, the advertising industry, cannot make the shift to do acts instead of ads, we will vanish. And deservedly so.

Many marketing managers and advertising executives throw the term “lifestyle brand” around too carelessly. Whether it is mobile phone, toothpaste, ice cream, jeans, hemorrhoid creams, you name it. The brutal truth is that the majority of brands are just products, which have merely functional value to audience. There are less truly inspirational brands than brand managers in the world. Red Bull is a lifestyle brand, build around extreme experiences. Can you really say that your brand is lifestyle brand compared to Red Bull?

The role of traditional advertising is totally miniscule for Red Bull. Judging from their cartoon TV ads, traditional advertising might even be counterproductive for their success. They have build their brand by events, strategic sponsorships and great content produced from those two. This content is mainly distributed digitally.

Before the death-defying jump, there was also a double-win on Sunday for Red Bull F1 team. Red Bull does not just stamp their logo to everywhere to fulfill their sponsorship duties. They use sponsorship as a strategic marketing weapon.

Great brand is media.
The key to successful content marketing is not producing content. The key is to produce interesting content. If your brand wants to really be part of your audience lives and be that “lifestyle” brand, you have to create content which is up to par (or as in Stratos, even over) with every other content your target audience consumes. Being OK in “advertising standards” is not enough, because people could not care a less whether you are brand or not. There is no handicap league for advertisers.

If you go visit Red Bull website, their content about extreme sports and music beats many major media sites. If you build a media, it takes longevity and it requires quality. You have to have clear picture about what your brand represents and act upon it. The parachute jump was totally on Red Bull brand. If your brand aspires to be media, you cannot only be content agregator and rely only on your partners. You have to be an active content creator as well.

Digital is natural part of the winner brands.

When you understand your target audience, the digital executions are not the challenge. You do not need social media expert to tell that you should broadcast the jump in YouTube. Or that you should have hashtag dedicated the event. Great brands master digital presence efforlessly, because they understand their audience.

Digital is air, you either breathe or die.

You might not be able to fund the world´s highest parachute jump. It might not be the right for our brand either. You should still find ways to become truly part of the lifestyle of your audience, instead of just being an interrupting nuisance for them.

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