A tradition at my U.C. Berkeley class “Creativity & Innovation & The Entrepreneur” (ICE) is to set aside one class each semester to discuss “innovations in Marketing”. I ask the students to each contribute 1-2 examples of highly creative, imaginative and innovative marketing and post them to a WIKI. This year, we had over 70 postings and great discussion in class about the nature of the “creative” advertising agency, and what makes a marketing campaign highly innovative.
As a former marketing exec (IBM, Apple, Yahoo, Netchannel, Overture and others), I’ve worked with hundreds of highly creative people – in fact, at a place like Apple, marketing seemed to be a never-ending game between creatives as to who could create the most innovative plan.
I learned that sometimes, just simple ingenuity and the element of surprise and delight works wonders…for example the simplicity of the Apple logo, the release of the Mac in 1984, the irreverence of the iPod and simplicity of iPhone advertisements, all underscore the innovative culture of Apple. Our class found several great examples of creative, yet highly simple, marketing campaigns in every-day advertising:
- clever advertising campaigns
- some creative outdoor campaigns
- Here are some great examples of outdoor bench advertising
The game in marketing is to figure out who can create the most innovative ad campaigns, the most effective lead drivers, and the best branding and positioning. Naturally, with so many creative people in this industry, lots of creative ideas occur. How many are truly innovative?
Top Four Elements of Innovative Marketing
This year in class, we tore apart several of the marketing campaigns to figure out what makes for truly innovative marketing. Here are the five elements of innovative marketing that came from our Wiki this year:
1. Highly innovative marketing campaigns employ the age-old craft of story-telling, sometimes allowing the user to fill in the missing pieces of the story. Everyone loves a good story. And, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other sites are perfect viral channels for the spread of a good story. Here are several examples of highly viral campaigns that tell a great (and personal) story:
Google posted a particularly clever campaign during a period when it was under fire from the press for some of its practices. 5 million viewers have watched the viral video. The video shows the “human” (softer) side of Google (often said to be a bit “tc in its culture) and the viewer is pulled into the story with a certain “that could be me” feel.
Not to be out-marketed, Facebook posted a similar video recently, although its viral effects have been minimal so far. But still, it’s fun to watch.
Another very effective campaign that tells a poignant story to get its point across is the Dove Evolution campaign that hit the ‘Net in October, 2006. This innovative marketing example used stop photography to get its point across, leaving the reader to think about Dove in an entirely new light.
2. Highly innovative campaigns draw the user in …often engaging the user in the story or campaign. Given the nature of the social web today, the best way to engage many users is to draw them in on a personal level. One of my all-time favorite viral videos “Where the Hell Is Matt?” (33 million views) does an amazing job at this.
One great example of this is the Pepsi Refresh project, which has (as of this writing) attracted 640,000 viewers. The project engages entrepreneurs around the country in submitting socially beneficial business plans. The music and visuals suck you in and tell a motivating story.
This Nissan Sentra advertisement highlights the takes personalization to an new level, but actually showing the main character living out of his Nissan. Young audiences could relate well to this.
3. Innovative campaigns draw their creativity from the intersection of 2 or more marketing devices. When one discovers the power of a new medium but leverages the legacy of an older medium, great things happen. For example, Paranormal Activity was a run-away low-budget box-office smash, based on the incredible viral marketing the film used prior to theatrical introduction. One key element of this was the combination of Twitter and viral video. People “tweeted their screams”.
Here are several other, more recent, examples:
- Groupon is combining crowd-sourcing with location-based marketing to craft campaigns that draw big crowds into locations for on-the-spot promotions
- Volvo – teamed up with Double-Click to create innovative banner ads that incorporate live Twitter feeds
- Ikea came up with a completely novel use for Facebook “tagging” by allowing users to claim prizes
The campaigns that are most innovative will come up with novel ways of combining 2 or more forms of existing marketing to arrive at new combinations.
4. Highly innovative marketing utilizes an element of surprise and delight , which crosses the expected with the unexpected. The result is a campaign that people want to share among themselves and watch over and over.
- Coke used this highly effective campaign to brand itself to happiness and fun – and who doesn’t want happiness and fun?
- Burger King allowed people to “have it their way” by personalizing the experience, delighting and surprising their customers in the process
- A favorite among the 20-something crowd is the Old Spice viral videos from 2009 which used surprise and humor to re-build the brand’s image.
These are four approaches to creating innovation in Marketing. What other examples match up to these four findings? What other sources of innovation defines the Marketing field?