These examples of creative digital marketing probably looked crazy on paper. But they just go to show that breaking the rules sometimes is not only okay, it’s essential.
“Does my blog need a higher word count?”
“Should I be posting on LinkedIn more often?”
Yes? No? Probably?
Here’s the thing … digital marketing isn’t black-and-white, and no one ever built a statue of someone who played it safe.
So put on your thinking cap and check out these five unprecedented creative digital marketing ideas that actually worked.
1. SNICKERS (2010)
The candy giant Mars, Inc. had a great thing going with its “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” ad campaign for its Snickers bar.
Then in 2010, the company hired an outside agency to find commonly misspelled words in popular Google searches, like “definately” (definitely) and “vacum” (vacuum).
Mars bought the top pay-per-click ad spot for these searches. In two days, they had over 500,000 ad impressions.
Google AdWords has tightened up on misspellings in competitive keyword searches since then, so this tactic wouldn’t work today.
But it’s a great case study for testing the boundaries of classic digital marketing.
2. KFC (2018)
You may remember the United Kingdom’s great “chicken crisis” of 2018.
After an unfortunate string of operational failures, KFC’s UK supply chain was in shambles. From chicken wings to ketchup packets, many of their UK stores were practically barren.
Instead of making excuses, KFC got creative.
They released an apology headlined by a graphic mockup of their trademark chicken bucket. But instead of the usual “KFC” on the side, the bucket was emblazoned with the letters “FCK.”
The ad ended with an address to a microsite that would inform customers which stores were fully operational.
It’s a remarkable testament to how clever marketing can diffuse a dicey situation and help a brand win back customer loyalty.
3. AMERICAN EXPRESS (2007)
Social media platforms and digital communities were still finding their feet in the mid-2000s.
While many corporations were still wary of dipping their toes into digital marketing, American Express went all in.
In 2007, they launched Open Forum, which has since been rebranded to Business Class: Trends and Insights.
Amex used this platform as a watering hole for executives and small business owners to collaborate and share ideas through guest posts.
The best part? Amex was able to repurpose this content (which they had put almost zero effort into producing, mind you) and use it to promote themselves.
This tactic of cultivating community content in content marketing is fairly commonplace now, but Amex helped blaze the trail. Pretty slick, right?
4. UNIQLO (2016)
UNIQLO’s President and CEO, Tadashi Yanai, once famously said, “We are not a fashion company. We are a technology company.”
If their creative digital marketing is indicative of their culture, then Yanai is onto something.
In what was a first in 2016, the apparel brand placed over 100 digital billboards in high foot traffic areas across Australia. The boards flashed a fast-moving code that you could only capture with a camera.
Shoppers could then upload the code on the company’s website for unique offers and discounts.
The result? Over four million new shoppers visited their website.
Other brands have since used similar clones of this bold traditional-to-digital marketing crossover. It just goes to show the power of regional marketing in the digital age.
5. CHIPOTLE (2016)
After a rough stretch of bad press, including an E. coli outbreak caused by contaminated ingredients, Mexican-style food chain Chipotle had lost a lot of public trust.
So they kicked off a new digital marketing campaign that tied in an age-old tactic — emotional storytelling.
They brought on former Pixar animator Saschka Unseld to direct A Love Story, an animated short about two young entrepreneurs who lose sight of their values:
It was a clever delivery of Chipotle’s public commitment to “get back to the basics” in food safety.
THE BEST PART ABOUT CREATIVE DIGITAL MARKETING? ANYONE CAN DO IT
You don’t have to be a megacorporation or pay a massive ad agency to get creative with digital marketing.
You only need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
If your digital marketing strategy’s been on life support for a while, then maybe it’s time to shake things up.
We’d love to throw some fresh ideas your way. Reach out today!