29
Aug
08

And the Marketing Strategy of the Year for 2008 is…

… making a racy ad, “leaking it” on YouTube & then officially distancing yourself

For the record, I’m not saying that the below companies are actually doing this. For the record too, I’d never do – or recommend doing – something like this… but you have to admit that, although it’s a potentially dubious and high risk strategy, companies have gotten some pretty good viral style attention from having controversial ads ‘leaked’ over the past 6 months. They can then mop up most of the outrage it instigates amongst more conservative members of the viewing public by distancing themselves from the ad… If it can be done by mistake, why can’t it be done on purpose.

Example 1 – JC Penney

Take JC Penney for starters. Saatchi and Saatchi made them a nice little ad featuring 2 fit young things practicing how to get dressed as quickly as possible, with the tagline “Today’s the day you get away with it”.

 

Not entirely too offensive or racy, but JC Penney apparently found it suitably offensive to decide not to use it.

Fast forward a few months and it’s leaked on YouTube after winning an award at Cannes. JC Penney, understandably outraged, piss and moan and eventually have the video removed from Youtube (but in typical fashion there’s a few other copies of it on Youtube plus it’s since popped up a few other places). The interesting thing about all this is the fact that JC Penney never paid for TV time to air the ad and likely never even paid for production of it, but it’s been getting probably close to the number of views a TV campaign might achieve, plus massive amounts of discussion in forums, blogs and other online vehicles. I seriously doubt it’s going to be bad for Saatchi and Saatchi either, since it may slightly damage relations with JC Penney but it is a great case study in creating excitement online. So, as a brand awareness campaign, this has probably been quite successful (hell, as an Aussie blogger, I’d never heard or given a damn about JC Penney before now… and for the sake of a good blog post, lets ignore the potential issues of brand damage and the damage to the S&S / JC Penney relationship for a moment too).

Example 2  – Guinness

The more recent Guinness “Share one with a Friend” ad is another example. Same story, except the ad is perhaps better produced. It tugs on all the appropriate emotional strings (sex, shock, humour, surprise), and features what is essentially 30 seconds of Guinness logo time… I mean really, I’ve never seen an ad that gets people looking at a bottle of Guinness for 30 seconds whilst being totally entertained… This is one of the better crafted ads I’ve seen in a long time, but was apparently too racy for even a beer company.

It would have been (is) the perfect viral video.

However, the ad was deemed unsuitable by Guinness and was never to see the light of day. Enter (again) youtube, and the ad is getting some good numbers (my last count was 235,000 views of the different copies of it in various places on youtube, not to mention offline vehicles and the versions that have been taken down at Diageo’s request). Diageo / Guiness were, just like JC Penney, a bit miffed at having an ad they’d canned leaked on the net,and a similar hoopla kicked off to the JC Penney case. So this meant that, again, without paying for any TV time or even having to build a supporting campaigns to drive traffic to the video, Guinness managed to get it’s brand in front of hundreds of thousands or people for very little money and drove some real brand exposure time for it’s product. Particularly in the case of beer companies (as opposed to the slightly more conservative JC Penney) this is a positive thing for the company. And any potential negative issues are mitigated by the company distancing itself from the ad, even though behind closed doors it may actually fully endorse it. So the conservative fuddy older Guinness drinkers / investors remain placated, whilst the younger generation of Youtube using beer drinkers see a very different vision of Guinness to what they’re used to. And all this was achieved for probably what would amount to money for jam.

Nice, no? It’s a fine line to tread though.

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1 Response to “And the Marketing Strategy of the Year for 2008 is…”


  1. September 7, 2008 at 11:16 am

    that Guinness ad is fantastic!


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