March Campaigns Roundup

Spring’s here and busily getting underway: the buds are opening, the birds are singing. Undoubtedly, May will alight with thunder and June will snow us in, but for now everything seems perfectly peachy, particularly because March proved to be such a superb month in content, seeing a sequence of stellar campaigns spanning myriad channels and topics, online and off.

Join us in exploring five of last month’s most vivid and stimulating campaigns. As with February’s entry, we’ve contemplated the factors that made these ads so successful, identifying the key lessons that every brand can take from them to refine and enhance their own image in the future.

Twin Peaks returns with more cherry pie

With Twin Peaks set to make its long-anticipated return to television in May, the show’s promotion has taken in an idiosyncratically Twin Peaks turn.

Last month, billboards began cropping up across North America that displayed nothing but a picture of a single cherry pie. A favourite food of the Twin Peaks population, there was little doubt among the show’s die-hard fans of what they were referring to!

That the campaign only makes sense to Twin Peaks fans seems like a risk, signifying a strategy that’s fated to lose rather than gain a potential audience. However, the confidence and directness with which the ad targets the show’s most committed fans is also its greatest strength.

People return to Twin Peaks because of its quirks and the way in which the show regularly and fearlessly gestures to narratorial obliqueness. It’s a show that’s situated as far away from ‘normal’ as television tends to get; marketing it as being anything otherwise, just another show to perch at the end of a Netflix queue, would fail to connect the fans who love Twin Peaks for its weirdness while missing out on an opportunity to create vivid content to get social channels abuzz!

The campaign summarily made sweeping impressions across social media, alerting viewers to the fact of the show’s return and reminded them of the quirkiness for which they loved Twin Peaks to begin with.

There’s so much value in being mindful of the ways in which you’re using your mediums. Could you be utilising your channels to get an even bigger slice of the cherry pie? Seek ways of expressing your brand in the recognisable terms and ideas that inspire your audience to keep returning to it.

Heinz adds Mad Men to the sauce

As opposed to Twin Peaks‘ quirky promotional campaign for an equally quirky show, Heinz have incorporated AMC’s series Mad Men into their latest campaign to bring a new yet vintage lease of life to their iconic tomato ketchup.

Mad Men follows the story of Don Draper, a fictional advertising exec working in the New York of the 1950s. One plot-line sees Draper actually pitching to Heinz; he proposes a thoroughly minimalist campaign that, to the puzzlement of the Heinz execs, omits the ketchup bottle entirely. Instead, Draper’s concepts simply show photos of the foods that ketchup best accompanies, alongside the caption: ‘Pass the Heinz.’

Mad Men‘s fictitious Heinz responded negatively to Draper’s proposal, but the Heinz of the real world today have made a considerable, belated U-turn and are now running Draper’s ads across the billboards of NYC!

AdWeek spoke to Nicole Kulwicki, Heinz’s head of brand, who said: ‘What we loved about the campaign is that it doesn’t require paragraphs of copy to explain it. It features mouth-watering food images, and all that’s missing is the Heinz.’

The campaign’s a perfect example of a well-known brand maximising the potential of pop culture references to expand a brand’s image, using Mad Men’s artwork to transform Heinz from a household name into a brand with a desirable vintage, emblazoning it with the retro notes that Mad Men’s stylistic flair and lush cinematography emanate.

Think about the potential of pop culture affiliation to shape your brand’s image and consider the exciting and vivid openings to which life combining with art can lead.

Nike pumps the nostalgia to the Air Max

Sunday the 26th of March marked the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Nike’s iconic Air Max 1. Like Twin Peaks shaping its promotion to reflect the aesthetic it’s famous for, Nike celebrated the birthday in quintessentially Nike fashion, evoking the contemporary flair and edge by which the global brand continues to be epitomised, in a series of “fake ads” that they, ironically, commissioned.

Nike collaborated with artists Ava Nirui and Alex Lee to refashion and customise old-school Nike Air Max ads materials, mixing their artworks with Nike’s classic branding.

Originally appearing in Dazed and now making waves across social media, Nike’s innovative collaboration with Nirui and Lee makes a vibrant, stylish example of high-quality content generating correspondingly high-quality conversations.

BT Sport channels Neymar and enjoys sublime night in the Champions League

When Barcelona met Paris Saint-German in the Champions League round of 16 at Camp Nou, it wasn’t really a matter of ‘playing’ a match; it was a rout, a masterclass in getting revenge, as Barça’s battalion of superstars combined to constellate one of the Champions League’s greatest ever performances.

BT Sport broadcasted the match on UK television and were able to get in on the action, running a dynamic a Twitter campaign that saw the brand’s average interactions increase by a whopping 1,730%. Some golazo for the BT Sport social team!

Rather than merely posting a timeline of the match’s events, the relatively new but leading sport channel posted graphics like GIFs and delivered their content through engaging, creative copy.

We looked last month at the power of creative social posting, vis-à-vis the kooky Tweets that American restaurateurs Denny’s continue serving up, and the same applies here. It’s also a great example of keeping your content current and flowing and allowing your social channel the freedom to start conversations when opportunities for them arise!

Refuge goes viral with moving music video

Content that’s done well is content that creates conversations. After all, the web’s a pretty big animal and every piece of content’s just another drop in the ocean. But the best content gets the ocean going, and when they combined with BRIT-nominated singer Frances to produce a music video for her song ‘Grow’, Refuge, the charity, achieved exactly that.

The video shows an animated woman walking through her daily life, returning at night to a starkly-coloured home, into which the camera never ventures. Only half visible, drawn as if a ghost, the figure becomes a moving, hard-hitting metaphor for the struggle people face for their struggles to be heard.

Eventually, after encountering someone who offers her a helping hand, the woman becomes fully visible; listened to and supported, she’s able to come alive, as the video’s pallet shifts to brighter tones, reifying a final sense of fulfillment and recovery.

Though Refuge only released the video on the 19th March, it’s already reached over 150,000 YouTube views. Seeking to go viral to spread awareness of the support that the charity provides, the campaign is a moving and important example of the impact that well-made content can have!

February Campaign Round-Up

February may have been a short month, but it delivered content in a big way: we saw Moonlight light up the Oscars with a Best Picture win after a suitably tragicomic mix-up involving La La Land, Beyoncé grace the Grammys with a phenomenal rendition of songs from Lemonade and Leicester City bid adieu to a teary Claudio Ranieri, proclaiming that his dream had “died” after a fairly toothless season from his formerly bellicose foxes.

Mirroring the pace that the world picks up, plenty’s been going on in the campaigns domain, too, from Pancake Day tweets that flipped social media norms upside down to the New York Times incurring the digital wrath of America’s overly-digital Tweeter-in-Chief.

We’ve taken a retrospective look at five of the last month’s best campaigns that got the world abuzz, online and off!

1) Coming Up: One Branded Content Record Breaker

When building a brand a persona on social media, there’s usually a degree of semblance between the channel’s tone and the company’s image. If the World Bank started tweeting in lolcats, for instance, we’d be right to be a little confused. However, February saw one company smash the performance record for branded content, with a modus operandi of doing exactly the opposite.

Denny’s describe themselves as an “America’s diner […] where guests have come for over 60 years now to sit back, relax and enjoy delicious, hearty meals”. Denny’s Twitter radically leaves behind this retro feel, operating instead in a weird, off-kilter territory that most brands would fear to tread, deftly and rapidly switching between equally hearty doses of irony and earnestness.
One of Denny’s Pancake Day tweets stunned the Internet and marketers alike, picking up over 100,000 retweets and over 150,000 likes:

Denny’s meme-heavy content shows the importance of ensuring that you’re speaking with your audience as opposed to merely speaking to them, situating your brand within the same jokes and trends to which your customers respond.

2) Cancer Research Goes Contactless

Denny’s’ ongoing Twitter joy shows the importance of being current, staying relevant by ensuring that your brand remains in-time with the rhythms of contemporary life.

Though they’re in an entirely different field, Cancer Research have found similar success by taking a similarly progressive approach.

For this year’s World Cancer Day, the charity led a smart campaign of installing smart benches in Lewisham and Islington; these were seating areas complemented by smartphone charging docks, free internet access and a contactless donation panel that allowed people to donate £2 at a time.

As a brand considering any type of installation, to think of simple ways in which modern technology can be integrated into the set-up is a wholly worthwhile angle to take.

3) Honda Scales New Heights with its New Civic

Honda’s advert for the newest generation of their classic Civic range arrived in the form of a breath-taking visual spectacle, presenting the remodelled vehicle through the rich metaphor of a person climbing up a mountainside. As the one minute thirty advert progresses, the camera reveals the mountain to be in the shape of a car.

Though it’s not an overly subtle image, it evokes a strong and affective sense of Honda’s timeliness as a brand, whose cars have been leaders on the road for well over fifty years. Simultaneously, the ad’s supremely high production values and sophisticated, polished camerawork balance the old with the new, evincing Honda’s long-term commitment to technological innovation.

It’s quite the far cry from Denny’s’ antics on Twitter; if their joy comes from a meticulously-crafted social channel that takes the brand out of orbit, here Honda have created an ad that matches their voice to perfection.

4) The New York Times Trumps Trump

In 2017, it’s clear that the Information Age has unfortunately spiralled into a Misinformation Age, with the biggest companies on the planet struggling to contain the rising tide of “fake news”. The New York Times have confirmed their commitment to the truth in a Droga5-led campaign titled “The Truth is Hard”, based in print media, online and in platforms such as a New York advertising board.

It’s rare for a campaign to pick up traction in the form of the attention of the President of the USA, but here it did, with President Trump remarking:

Ironically, Trump’s explosive and itinerant tweeting is likely to have dramatically increased the reach of the New York Times’ marketing!

5) Dominos Makes a Nintendo Switch

With the launch of the Nintendo Switch and the release of the newest addition to the Legend of Zelda saga of games, Domino’s have gone in for a slice of the action with a humorous Zelda/pizza hybrid campaign. The level of detail is relatively uncanny, right down to the pizza box shield and pizza cutter sword. It’s another great example of a brand wholly connecting with its customers’ humour and language, with the graphic picking up a highly positive response across social media channels.

Social Media Roundup: February

February has seen so many developments in the world of social media that it’s been hard to keep up – fortunately, we’ve got the key changes rounded up here.

Firstly, Facebook has had a busy month. To begin with, the social network has announced that videos in the News Feed will soon auto play with sound on when using a mobile device. This feature is likely to apply to ads as well, and from an advertising perspective, the possibility of delivering sound-on adverts to users – a more engaging format – would be a real improvement over the current situation. However, even though Facebook has claimed that this change has been positively received in tests, for many users having sound-on automatically will be viewed as invasive, and may end up negatively impacting the image of the advertiser’s brand.

Facebook has also improved its capacity for displaying vertical video, and introduced a watch and scroll feature, which also allows videos to keep playing even once the Facebook app has been exited. Facebook has mentioned that a lot of its focus moving forwards is based on video, which explains this focus on ensuring it’s as prominent as possible.

Additionally, Facebook has announced updates to its newsfeed algorithm in an attempt to “prioritise authenticity.” Pages that are seen to be “trying to game the news feed” by using posts asking for engagements, or that post content which is often hidden by users, are deemed less authentic and may be positioned further down the newsfeed. Given all these recent changes on Facebook, it’s important for businesses to assess their content strategy, so they can take advantage of this push towards video content, and move away from posts that are deemed inauthentic by this new update.

It’s been a hectic time for Snapchat too, with a number of developments ahead of its forthcoming IPO in March. In addition to a significant portion of its user base migrating away to Instagram, a survey out this month claimed that 80% of the app’s key demographic (18-24) always or often skip ads on the app – worrying for businesses aiming to advertise to this market through this platform. Although this age group has been referenced by Snapchat as a big advertising opportunity for marketers, younger users so far haven’t responded well to promotional content on the app.

However, it hasn’t all been bad news for Snapchat, with the announcement that websites will now be able to have their own QR codes. This will allow businesses to set up links to their websites within the app, reducing the number of steps between the app and the website. This should help improve the number of site sessions generated by Snapchat, as well as providing an additional reason for users to follow that business on the app. For instance, retail stores may see this as an opportunity to facilitate turning product inspiration into instant purchases with this new update.

In further video news, Twitter has confirmed that a new metric is being tested alongside likes and retweets. Users will soon see a view count next to their video content to gauge its popularity, in an attempt to help “surface the best content”, according to Twitter. Although there’s no announcement as to when this will be rolled out to all users just yet, this is yet another indication of video’s rising prominence in the eyes of social media sites.

Twitter’s increasing focus on customer service has also been highlighted this month, as it has now introduced a method for businesses to personalise their customer service responses. This feature allows customer service representatives to use a personal profile rather than the corporate one when responding to queries. Twitter has mentioned in the past the benefits of this human connection, saying that users are “22% more likely to be satisfied compared to those who had impersonal interactions with a business on Twitter”, and this addition only attempts to further this aspect.

Finally, Instagram has announced a new carousel-style feature to its app, allowing users to publish up to 10 pictures or videos as one post. This presents a whole host of opportunities for businesses to create engaging posts on Instagram that weren’t previously possible. For instance, this could be used to ask users to vote for their favourite product amongst a set; show a step-by-step process in brief stages; or for businesses to provide detailed behind the scenes content within one post.

SEO Market Updates: February 2017

Google Phantom algorithm update on February 7

Data collected from a number of sites shows significant ranking movements both up and down which could have been caused by an algorithm update.

Google, however, have not confirmed or denied any algorithm change. There is speculation that Google is experimenting with improvements in evaluating large pages.

Based on the data that has been analysed, there is a high chance that this change is related to content quality.

Web directory DMOZ closing down

The DMOZ web directory has announce that it will be shutting down as of 14 March 2017.

Web directories existed as a way of manually categorising pages on the web before search engines became commonplace. DMOZ launched in 1998.

In the past, Google would occasionally use meta descriptions from DMOZ when the page’s description was not appropriate.

Google Assistant coming to more phones

Google Assistant, the artificial-intelligence powered successor to Google’s voice search facility, will soon be coming to smartphones running Android 6.0 and 7.0.

While many voice search users will not see a huge difference in the new service, Google Assistant aspires to be more conversational than simple query input.

In a recent survey, 60% of voice search users wanted more direct answers instead of links to third parties.

45% of top search results are HTTPS

Mozcast is now showing that 45% of top 10 Google search results are using HTTPS.

Dr. Pete from Moz projected that 50% of the results will be HTTPS by June 2017.

With HTTPS taking over, it is more important than ever that sites which remain on the unsecure HTTP protocol make the switch in order to compete in organic search.