Paid Media News Roundup

AdWords – Notes

Those who have made the switch to the new AdWords interface may have noticed they can now add notes to campaign and ad group-level graphs. If you are yet to make the switch, or see the option, it is revealed when hovering over a point on the graph, as seen below.

Notes offer a centralised place to document any important changes and, through doing so, allow you to build a comprehensive picture of your account over time. Perhaps more important, however, is the much needed respite they offer to those who have grown tired of rifling through external documents, emails, or the change history for the date of a change or perhaps a promotion; wholly unwelcome tasks that I will certainly be glad to see the back of.

AdWords – Parallel Tracking

In a bid to improve landing-page times, and mobile web experiences, Google will, from the end of October this year, require parallel tracking on all accounts.

Parallel tracking seeks to overcome the problem of tracking codes slowing down landing pages, by essentially splitting the landing page and the tracking. Users can then be sent straight to the landing page, whilst the tracking is sent to an ad click measurement server. This stops users waiting for any redirects to load.

While parallel tracking is currently optional, early adoption could allow you to speed up your site’s load time, setting you aside from those who choose not to make the switch. The importance of this is furthered by the fact that from the end of this month, mobile speed will start being factored into your quality score.

DoubleClick – Digital Audio Ad Inventory

As the number of people who use music streaming services continues to grow, it is only to be expected that so too will the ways for advertisers to reach them. The latest platform to support the programmatic buying of audio ads is DoubleClick Bid Manager, whose advertisers can now reach audiences on Google Play Music, Spotify, Soundcloud and TuneIn.

Developments like these offer an exciting opportunity for advertisers to begin building a picture of how to engage with their audience through audio ads. The challenge going forward, and one that will only be compounded as more exchanges begin to offer audio ads and more advertisers begin to experiment with them, will be to engage with users in a relevant, non-intrusive way. As such, early insights will be a valuable way to stay ahead of the competition.

Google Sheets – AdWords Add-On

Google recently launched into beta an AdWords add-on for Google sheets, allowing users to create reports that can be run from, and downloaded to, a Google sheet – similar to the Google Analytics add-on. This allows users to create custom reports that are easy to update and can be easily shared, without writing scripts or investing in third-party software.

Unfortunately, the add-on is still lacking a few reports, such as shopping, and, unlike the Analytics add-on, a script, or many third-party solutions, does not allow you to schedule your reports.

Although it is not currently possible to automate every aspect of reporting through the add-on, it is certainly a step in the right direction and will be a useful tool once the other reports and a scheduling feature have been added.

Halloween Campaigns Round-up

Post-Halloween greetings from Fusion Content. It’s been the season to be scary. The world’s biggest brands and content creators headed outside to trick and treat, as campaign activity took a frightening turn towards the paranormal.

Now that the pumpkin lanterns are well and truly out, read on for the best examples of Halloween marketing this year.

Stranger Things turns the internet Upside Down (spoiler free!)

The Internet loves talking about what it’s been watching. In recent months, few series have received more hype than the newest Stranger Things. Netflix released the show’s second season on October the 27th.

As a goldmine of pop culture throwbacks and retro references, the series presented super partnership opportunities to a range of brands:

SPOTIFY

Spotify allowed users to find out which Stranger Things characters share their musical tastes. Firstly, they tailored playlists to the season’s main characters’ preferences. Then, they compared them with users’ listening histories. Options ranged from the Demogorgon’s Upside Downers to Eleven’s Breakfast Jams!

TOPSHOP

Topshop converted their flagship Oxford Street branch into a Stranger Things shrine. They recreated a range of the show’s most iconic locations, such as Hawkins Lab, the games arcade and the Byers’ heavily graffitied living room:

https://twitter.com/Topshop/status/925044696182910977

https://twitter.com/Topshop/status/924621868526653441

KELLOGG’S EGGO

These are the snack of choice of one of Stranger Things’ most iconic characters. Since series two arrived, the Eggo Twitter has practically become a Stranger Things fan account (with a few outrageously bad puns thrown into the mix):

All of these are instances of brands imaginatively tapping into mainstream pop culture events to create relevant and timely marketing. Kellogg’s activity is an especially excellent example. By capitalising on Eggo’s sudden uplift of pop culture relevance, and crafting a social strategy around it, they’ve been able to grow their brand in a new direction for a widened and younger audience.

Svedka Vodka uses display ads to haunt the internet

Svedka Vodka took an unconventional but eerily brilliant approach to its Halloween-themed marketing, which combined creative activity and remarketing to possess users’ social feeds with spooky Svedka Vodka content.

The campaign began by serving clickbait Halloween-themed cocktail recipes on users’ feeds. However, all wasn’t as it seemed. If a user clicked they link, they’d instead be spirited away to a video proclaiming that the curse had been laid:

From then on, they would be shown a cocktail of creepy banner ads. Geotargeting and retargeting methods made the curses uncannily unique: users in New York would be served New York specific ads, for instance.

And the user could only lift the curse by sharing one of the clickbait articles from Svedka Vodka’s Halloween hub. The curse would pass on to their friends and the cycle would begin again!

The brand’s multi-channel strategy created a memorable, outside-of-the-box campaign. Whilst we wouldn’t normally advocate shaping a digital strategy around hexing your audience, it certainly paid dividends on this occasion!

Burger King clowns around with McDonald’s and IT

Like Kellogg’s Eggos, Burger King’s Halloween content tied into pop culture happenings. Yet, rather than using pop culture to promote their own product, Burger King used it instead to take a swipe at a rival. The target? Historic arch-nemesis, Ronald McDonald.

This Halloween, BK invited the world to dress-up as scary clowns and, in many of its biggest locations (such as Leicester Square), offered free burgers as a reward. The campaign’s motto summarised the endeavour succinctly: ‘Never trust a clown’.

This isn’t the first time that Burger King has trolled its competitors in its Halloween content. Last year, one outlet dressed up as McDonalds’ ghost:


Credit: AdWeek

Nevertheless, it’s an inventive approach that capitalised on a seasonal opportunity to create conversations and serve up buzz around the brand at a competitor’s expense (which is risky, but fits within Burger King’s wider brand identity).

Come back next month, where we’ll be chatting all things Christmas!

September Campaigns Roundup

From a LADbible campaign asking the UN to recognise a country made from trash, to Cristiano Ronaldo showing he’s as good at marketing football as playing it, Fusion Content round up five of September’s best campaigns.

Unicef drives empty school busses through New York streets to highlight children’s education in war zones

Unicef estimates that around 27 million children aged 6-15 are unable to access an education due to the immanent threats of war and conflict. In the run-up to last month’s UN General Assembly, they combined with non-profit ad agency KBS in a creative campaign that poignantly illustrated the statistic by driving twenty-seven empty school busses through the streets of New York, bearing banners like ‘Books not bombs’ and ‘Avoiding land mines shouldn’t be an extracurricular activity’ and carrying just one passenger, Muzoon Almellehan, a Syrian refugee whose family fled the country’s civil war in 2013.

The busses brought the statistic to life with an appropriate urgency. Their convoy almost resembled a blockade as they drove sombrely towards the UN building, slowing down traffic and creating physical space in which the issue was able to become present and enter public consciousness.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZKNHoclIE4/?taken-by=unicef

Netflix gestures to the Upside Down in zany Stranger Things cease-and-desist letter (and shows us all how to do our monitoring)

From Narcos-inspired ads in nightclub toilets to giant billboards declaring ‘Netflix is a joke’, Netflix’s marketing strategy has lately been relatively out-there. They’re doing it incredibly well.

One of the company’s most recent successes showed succinctly how a creative strategy shouldn’t just be targeting big wins, as they turned a cease and desist letter into a brilliant basis for content:

The letter addressed to a Stranger Things based pop-up bar lacking the studio’s authorisation encapsulated the show’s kooky and charming tone to a T. The writer begins by confessing that their ‘walkie talke is busted so I had to write this note instead’, before saying soon after:

Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid […] but unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

This was a deft and elegant way of handling a potentially difficult situation, illustrating how brands can still – when appropriate – keep negative engagements with consumers engaging. ‘We love our fans more than anything,’ it ends, ‘but you should know that the demorgorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom’.

LADbible dives in at the deep end in Plastic Oceans campaign

Each year, eight million tonnes of plastic are deposited into the world’s oceans, devastating marine wildlife. The figures are so great that by 2050, scientists anticipate the plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish. To confront the issue head on, LADbible teamed up with activist group Plastic Oceans and a star-studded line-up of influential names, like Mo Farah, Judi Dench and Ross Kemp, in an outside-of-the-box campaign that sought to make the UN acknowledge the country status of a giant patch of trash in the Pacific Ocean, which they’ve Christened ‘The Trash Isles’.

To be recognised as a country, a region must meet several criteria, and LADbible has ensured that the Trash Isles ticks the boxes: it has a defined region, a newly-formed government, an increasing number of registered residents (vis-à-vis a Change.org petition), is in dialogue with other states, and even has a beautifully designed currency that’s humorously called Debris.

The UN Charter dictates: ‘All members shall co-operate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem’. In other words: because UN member states are responsible for ensuring that member countries are ecologically responsible, gaining membership for the Trash Isles would oblige the UN globally to assist in a clean-up of the ocean.

This is an excellent campaign, supported by influencer campaigns, social media activity and onsite content, by a ground-breaking brand, whose 3.2bn generated views in March this year made them rank as the month’s most popular video creator in the world.

Lyft heads to the Wild West for new prospects as Uber’s stock continues to fall

After becoming embroiled in various scandals and controversies often of its own causing, the last few years for Uber have been a fairly bumpy ride. Their misfortunes have presented a rare opportunity for rival rideshare apps to increase their foothold in the market. To increase their brand’s prominence in relevant conversations, competitor company Lyft has begun honing its brand identity, in a series of humorous ads starring actor Jeff Bridges that tie into the American history of journeying with surreal references to the trends of today.

The ads show actor Jeff Bridges in various Western settings with nods to 21st century pop culture: one sees Bridge’s character sat in the passenger seat declare ‘Shame they haven’t invented the football yet. Sure would be good to have something to talk about’, whilst another sees a passenger texting ‘lol’ through a typewriter.

Capturing a sense of history with tongue-in-cheek flair, the ads demonstrate the worth of taking time to work on fleshing out your brand’s identity itself, rather than solely promoting your products/services. Doing the first can massively help with the latter.

FIFA brings Ronaldo off the bench for ad campaign

Few dates in the video games calendar are more hyped than the release of each year’s new edition of FIFA. This year, the game’s publishers EA Sports brought their marketing strategy literally to life by involving Cristiano Ronaldo, asking him to create his own footballing skill that would be included in the game.

It’s a brilliant example of using an influencer’s input to promote your own material. Fans keep returning to the video game because it enables gamers to embody their favourite football players. Personally involving Ronaldo’s creative input, FIFA has made that connection stronger than ever.

Come back next month, and we’ll see what October had in store!

August Campaigns Roundup

As the Internet catches its breath after last season’s Game of Thrones, and ‘winter is coming’ becomes more and more of a reality, the greatest minds in digital marketing continue to produce buzzing campaigns and pique the attention of the Internet.

A tea giant ran a giveaway in their cricket whites, the National Gallery introduced Van Gogh to Facebook, and an airline produced its own take on John Cage’s 4″33. Read on for five digital media happenings that caught the attention of Fusion’s content team last month!

1) Yorkshire Tea hits the content for six

In the build-up to last month’s match between England and the West Indies at our very own Headingley Stadium, an inspired Yorkshire Tea competition asked entrants to film themselves bowling their teabag into their cuppa as spectacularly as possible.

The prizes didn’t stray far from the wickets. The lucky winners received VIP tickets to the game, a signed cricket bat, and the opportunity to chat with legendary English cricketer Michael Vaughan.

The competition benefited the brand in several ways: it enabled them to highlight their Yorkshire roots and tap into pop culture interests, whilst encouraging the creation of unique user generated content that created animated conversations on social media.

2) Vincent Van Gogh gets social with the National Gallery and Facebook

Recently, Vincent Van Gogh has enjoyed an unlikely pre-eminence in digital media. In February, Airbnb partnered with the Art Institute of Chicago to build a real life version of his iconic painting ‘The Bedroom’, making it available for art-minded guests to stay in. Now, he’s starred at the heart of a foray into VR by the UK’s National Gallery, who used Facebook Live to host a virtual exhibition that united his legendary ‘Sunflowers’ paintings – displayed in galleries all over the world – for the first time in their history.

The exhibition functioned as a relay between five galleries. Each had fifteen minutes to present their own portrait to the audience, before passing the impressionist baton on to the next.

‘We launched our first Facebook Live a year ago’, said Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the Gallery. ‘They’ve been growing in popularity ever since, so we are delighted to be teaming up with galleries all over the world and Facebook for the first ever live relay focusing on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. This collaboration is a key step in the National Gallery’s Digital Strategy, which will see us fully explore the potential of immersive media to create new ways of experiencing art’.

The joint effort provides a wonderful example of a brand capitalising on the new opportunities that new channels present to create unique, ground-breaking content. We’re excited to see how marketers will pick up on Facebook’s Live availability in the future!

3) easyJet gets ambient with charity album

Musically, August delivered a fairly happening month for the airwaves: Leeds and Reading Festival came and went, as thousands of starry-eyed festival-goers discovered the invention of the beer bong and depleted the country’s Frosty Jack’s, whilst Taylor Swift deleted her social media channels, before springing back with a new single which remained very Taylor Swift. However, what piqued our interest the most was the astonishing arrival of an ambient album from easyJet, with the release of their two-song EP titled ‘Jet Sounds’.

This wasn’t the sign of a change of heart for the airline brand, but a clever example of a zany, high quality campaign. It followed the UK Sleep Council’s recent findings that 22% of the population get a poor quality of sleep, and their recommendation that one way to remedy this is by listening to white noise before we go to bed – a monotonous and droning sound that soothes our minds and eases out distractions. As the low humming of an aircraft’s engines meets these criteria exactly, the airline decided to record two tracks of it on a plane flying from Gatwick to Nice!

All of the release’s proceeds go to The Children’s Sleep Charity. If you’re feeling a little tired yourself, or just fancying some Boeing 737 beats to liven up your weekend predrinks, check out the album on iTunes here.

4) Airbnb criticised over email marketing campaign

After the devastation of flooding in Houston by Hurricane Harvey, Airbnb waived rental fees across the city, enabling hosts to let out their properties for free and provide shelter to the tens of thousands of people left homeless. However, the company simultaneously received criticism for the poor timing of a concurrent email campaign which promoted an opportunity for holidaymakers to stay in a ‘floating world’, spending a trip in a home on the sea ‘without touching dry land’.

Striking too much of a chord with the events unfolding in Texas, the brand received an overwhelmingly negative backlash on social media:

An Airbnb spokesperson said: ‘The timing of this email marketing campaign was insensitive and we apologise for that. We continue to keep everyone affected by Harvey and all the first responders and their families in our thoughts’.

Whilst Airbnb has thorough disaster response measures, it’s essential for all brands to ensure that their content schedule remains suitably responsive to current events.

5) The North Face challenges Trump’s wall in campaign championing social mobility

Since Trump’s election as President of the USA, talk of the border wall with Mexico continues to dominate the headlines. Leading outerwear brand The North Face alluded to it heavily in their latest campaign, cleverly titled ‘Walls Are Meant for Climbing’.

Integral to the brand’s campaign are themes of unity and community-building, opposing the barriers that divide us. ‘Some people build walls. Other people climb them’, says the print copy. Whilst there’s no direct mentioning of White House policy, the reference’s political elements are readily apparent.

On a less metaphorical and more practical level, the campaign centres on the brand’s objective of making climbing more universally available. They’ve invested fairly heavily to do this: they donated $1,000,000 to the USA’s Trust for Public Land, for them to build climbing walls and facilities in public spaces across the country, and partnered with gyms across the world to establish August the 19th as a global day of climbing, allowing people to climb, for a day, for free.

The North Face’s campaign placed the brand within an important, relevant and politicised conversation, which – as shown by Pepsi earlier this year – can be a risky line for brands to tread. When doing this, it’s essential for the brand to support marketing efforts with practical and impactful activity. Here, however, the North Face accomplishes this impeccably.

Come back next month for more!

Google Launches Google Posts

To a mix of excitement and surprise, Google have launched their new Google Posts feature, allowing all Google My Business customers to microblog directly onto the search results stream, enabling brands to reach their audience with unprecedented ease.

The Google Posts interface was first trialled in January 2016, in the build-up to the US election: Google gave electoral candidates the chance to summarise their responses to pressing political concerns in posts of up to 14,400 characters, and then made those responses visible on relevant search queries.  Searching for issue X, for instance, would show you the stances of politicians Y and Z towards it.

A year and a half later, Google has completely reimagined the tool and expanded its availability, now enabling all businesses to post content directly to the search feed.

Brands’ posts will be visible for up to seven days before they disappear, exhibited in a scrollable carousel that rotates up to ten posts at a time, in a move that encourages businesses to keep their content fresh and vibrant.

Like Facebook and Twitter, posts can be brought to life with images and photography, although the interface doesn’t currently support GIFs or video. There’s a 300 words limit; only the first 100 characters will appear immediately in the Knowledge Panel, encouraging brands to balance creativity and concision when delivering their message.

There’re various ways that posts can be made more actionable: they can be created as ‘events’, causing the content to display for the event’s duration as defined by the user, or they can be rounded off with a call to action, be it a link for users to follow for more information, or an ‘add to cart’ functionality for quick and easy purchasing.

The whole of the interface is superbly tailored for mobile use; it’s clear that mobile search lies at the heart of Google’s bold philosophy and plans for the future.

It ties in beautifully to the company’s ever-expanding focus on local search, empowering small businesses by giving them an even greater opportunity to spread the word of their services through curated content.

Google Posts equally presents a brilliant opportunity to larger multi-location brands, allowing for the publication of bespoke content relating to each store locality.

If there’s going to be an exciting event or a brilliant promotion running in your Leeds’ store, for example, you’ll be able to use Google Posts to advertise it specifically on the Leeds store’s GMB page.

It’s very new, and there’s certainly scope for several of the interface’s features to be improved, such as widening the list of available calls to action and broadening the reach of the Insights module, providing greater information for analysis.

Needless to say, Google Posts is an exciting direction for Google to be heading in, opening another channel for the creation and promotion of content, and one that brands would be wise to think about, too!

May Campaigns Round-up

June began with the Champions League final, seeing a scintillating Juventus side square up to a fiery Real Madrid.

The match’s twists and turns made a fitting end for May, which proved to be a high-octane month across the spheres of social media, digital campaigns and content.

We watched a burger brand bravely contest the monarchy of Belgium, a Playstation ad play games with the laws of physics, a shark dramatically steal a 90s popstar’s thunder, and a crisp brand unknowingly create a content piece fusing Gary Lineker with Rebecca Black (a little less conventional than salt and vinegar!).

Read on for post-match highlights, analysis and more of five of the last month’s most noteworthy campaigns!

Walkers wave “the Walkers Wave” goodbye

Walkers’ “Walkers Wave” was an innovative approach to the competition format, but an unfortunate tactical oversight caused the campaign to be abandoned in less than twenty four hours.

The competition, presenting entrants with the opportunity to win tickets for Cardiff’s Champions League final, revolved around user generated content: they asked people to send in a selfie, converted the selfie into a video of the person’s picture being held up by Gary Lineker and then automatically tweeted the video back to the user from Walkers’ verified Twitter account.

The process of posting tweets to Walkers’ feed was automated. Herein lies the fatal flaw, for many of the selfies that were submitted were not actually selfies at all.

The campaign, quickly peaking into virality, witnessed Lineker welcoming into the Wave people that ranged from Joe Biden to Rebecca Black, alongside more unpleasant images such as mugshots of criminals.

A high profile, high cost campaign, Walkers supported online activity with media elements such as supersized displays of the social stream in Cardiff city centre, which unfortunately added all the more publicity to the brand’s own goal.

User generated content catalyses campaign’s momentum, increasing interest and visibility on social, but it’s vital to only integrate moderated content into your brand.

As epitomised by last year’s beloved Boaty McBoatface, the denizens of the Internet enjoy a near-endless supply of spanners for every possible works.

It’s best not to take risks that can have serious implications down the line.

Discovery makes a splash with Seal

A whole host of famous figures errantly ended up in Walkers’ waters. Across the pond, the Discovery Channel combined with a celebrity of their own to announce this year’s “Shark Week”.

We’re happy to give Discovery a bye over the pressing safety concerns of putting on a show by shark-infested shore, because the ad’s creative risk-taking boldly pays off.

Its bleak and ironic humour moves the nature brand into waters that are largely unexplored by its competitors, whose creative incentives are to either impress a sense of horror or awe: think of Planet Earth 2‘s photography and the commanding voice of Attenborough!

Like a strong keepie uppie, it’s good to keep the football metaphor going. Take creative inspiration from Xavi and Iniesta and look out for creative directions that your competitors aren’t occupying.

There could be a good reason why content creators haven’t followed a particular creative path – e.g. sharks. Equally, there might not be. Just because someone else isn’t doing it doesn’t mean that it’s bad; you could just be the first to spot the opportunity!

Sony enjoys eureka breakthrough with Gravity Rush 2

Strikingly executed and based on a simple yet stunning concept, a Sony advert for the new video game Gravity Rush 2 received an extraordinary response across the web.

Some things defy words, others defy gravity. This incredible creative piece by Tokyo agency Hakuhodo speaks boldly for itself:

Gravity Rush 2 revolves around the player manipulating the laws of gravity. As such, the ad’s a brilliant example of demonstrating a product: it shows, rather than tells, what you’re able to do.

The ad complements the creative flourish with gameplay footage towards the end, giving a full illustration of the product’s functionality and confidently overcoming a problem that the field of game advertising has historically struggled with, sometimes showing inaccurate video animation that doesn’t actually reflect the game at all.

This is an advert that might seem to totally flip the box upside down, rather than merely think outside of it. However, it’s based on a simple premise done exceptionally well, making small but enormous changes to the rules of physics we take for granted, showing the massive effect that can be made in subtly tweaking the everyday!

McDonald’s television ad receives backlash from charities

Social media and charities alike responded harshly to a recent McDonald’s ad, accusing the international fast food giants of manipulating childhood bereavement into a marketing strategy.

Dr Shelley Gilbert, president of Grief Encounter, said that ‘Parents [are] telling us their bereaved children have been upset by the advert, and alienated by McDonald’s as a brand that wants to emotionally manipulate its customers’.

Like last month’s ill-advised Pepsi campaign starring Kendall, it’s vital for brands to only incorporate social issues into their branding work if the product or service has direct relevance.

Without making too much in the way of comment, it seems that, in respect of the above, the Filet-o-Fish certainly doesn’t.

‘Il n’y a pas de place pour deux kings en Belgique’: Burger King lose bid for Belgian succession

We wrote about BK in last month’s round-up and they’ve featured in previous months too, because of their penchant for the absurd throughout their creative:

Having just spoken about Maccies, you’d think that Burger King would regard them as their competitors. Not so, apparently, with Burger King last month launching an online campaign against, erm, the King of Belgium, instead.

The campaign, directed by French agency Buzzman, featured a poll on the website www.whoistheking.be that gave users the choice of picking between two kings: the King of Belgium or the king of Burgers.

Any attempt to vote for the King of Belgium led to prompts in BK’s favour, such as ‘Are you sure? He won’t cook you fries’.

Perhaps they anticipated it, perhaps they didn’t, but Burger King’s campaign met a guarded response from representatives of the Belgian royal family.

Spokesman Pierre Emmanuel de Bauw said that ‘we would not have given our authorisation’ for the king’s likeness to be used in the material, landing the American brand in a sticky situation.

Moreover, Burger King actually lost the election – albeit narrowly – with 51% of its electorate preferring their current royalty to the House of Hamburger.

The combination of the above led to Burger King stopping the campaign. However, they handled it with flair and creative grace, editing the website, removing ‘King’ from their logo, and declaring in a caption: ‘There isn’t room for two kings in Belgium’.

The brand used controversy for promotional gain, which is an incredibly risky strategy that we wouldn’t necessarily advocate, but it paid off.

They may have lost the election, capturing the attention and ire of the Belgian royals in the process, but BK’s campaign was certainly a success, bringing more attention to their zany, off-kilter branding.

Thanks for dropping by and see you next month – we look forward to finding out what June has to offer!

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!

How Longer Journeys To Sale Are Driving Up Marketing Costs

Maze

In response to an emerging trend amongst our clients we have done some in-depth research into changes in buyer behaviour over the last 12 months. This identified a significant increase in the volume of site visits customers are making before their eventual purchase, and this has major repercussions on marketing costs and strategy.

The key findings were that 80% of clients are seeing an increase in the length of the path to purchase, with journeys of 12 visits or more seeing the biggest growth at 85%.

This potentially leads to increased marketing costs, as you could be paying more times to get the same visitor back to your site in order to convert them. Businesses need to respond by developing a considered strategy for both reducing traffic costs for returning visitors and removing as many reasons as possible for users to leave your site before committing to purchase.

Head over to Econsultancy to read the full article on our research and recommendations for how clients should be responding to this little discussed trend.

 

Updated stats from Q4 2015

We revisited this analysis to see how things have changed in the last 18 months, and the results are quite surprising.

Only 40% of clients showed an increase in path to purchase between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015, with journeys of 12 visits or more up just 16%.

So have increases in journey length slowed?

It’s difficult to say, as we looking at increasingly disjointed data. Over the entire period from Q1 2013 to Q4 2015 desktop traffic dropped from an average of 70% of total traffic across the clients analysed to just 40%. So with cross-device measurement still not nailed in Google Analytics we are effectively looking at 3 silos of traffic across desktop, tablet and mobile. How many visits are really going on behind each of these segments?

With device fragmentation increasing but journey to conversion relatively static according to the data it certainly appears that journeys must be getting longer in the real world. One thing is certainly clear – the need for reliable cross-device tracking has never been greater.