Digital Marketing Campaigns of All Times That Help Famous Brands Grow

Establishing a business is easy, but running and growing is the most challenging part in the industry.

In order to grow properly and effectively, digital marketing campaigns intend to grow your business in a number of ways. First of them is creating a brand awareness, secondly, making a comeback and the third one is as we all know, to boost sales.

Here’s the most successful digital marketing campaigns that help famous brands grow, heard by millions and become corporate global firms.


• P&G Thank You Mom

Procter & Gamble Co.’s “Thank You Mom” campaign had its beginnings not so much in strategy or creativity as in opportunity. The brand finds out that it had the chance to sign a sweeping sponsorship deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2010 Winter Games. Rival Johnson & Johnson had locked up much of the sponsorship opportunities in prior years. But P&G had to act fast, essentially making the decision over a weekend, as Kirk Perry, then P&G’s top North American marketing executive and now a top Google sales executive, recounted in a talk to P&G alumni in 2012.

With time short to create a campaign, P&G Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard put out a challenge to all of P&G’s agencies at a summit, and Wieden & Kennedy came back with the winning ideas, he said in a 2010 interview. That resulted in Wieden getting its first major assignment for the company since P&G gave it the Old Spice business four years earlier–handling the corporate brand’s first global effort behind its “Thank You Mom” campaign during the Vancouver Winter Games.

What’s followed has been a series of award-winning ads that far outpaced what P&G has done around the Olympics, starting with an 18-brand effort P&G put together on relatively short notice for 2010.

Pritchard commented about the strategy behind the effort,

We found a lot of times that when people know a brand is from P&G they feel better about the brand, and when they know P&G has all these brands, they feel better about P&G.

After the hurry-up affair in 2010, what followed was a bigger global effort behind “Thank You Mom” during the 2012 London Olympics that added an incremental $500 million to P&G sales, by its own account. Besides creative awards, that campaign won P&G a Gold Effie and the top 2013 Advertising Research Foundation Ogilvy Award for a research effort that used response to Wieden’s viral videos to help dictate rotation and weight of the TV advertising. P&G research has shown the campaign consistently building the company’s brand awareness and equity scores.

Wieden and P&G had the top four best-scoring ads for effectiveness from the 2014 games, according to the Ace Metrix online consumer tracking panel and with more than 25M YouTube views between February 7 and 10 in 2014. P&G had more than four times the number of the next six Olympic sponsors combined, including Samsung and Visa.


• Unicef Tap Project

On World Water Day 2007, UNICEF launched the “Tap Project” in New York with then relatively new agency Droga5. The idea was simple; a $1 donation tacked onto a restaurant bill could help UNICEF provide a child with drinking water for 40 days. Since then, the “Tap Project” has seen multiple iterations and has raised more than $2.5 million dollars. The idea was borne out of a challenge, though.

“We’d just released our first piece of work under the Droga5 name,” said agency founder and creative chairman David Droga, referring to the “Still Free” campaign for Marc Ecko in which street artists appeared to be spraying graffiti on Air Force One. The work garnered the attention of many, including Esquire editor David Granger who sought to feature Droga in the magazine’s “Best and Brightest” issue. The turning point took place during the preliminary phone interview as they discussed the agency and the founder’s vision.


• Red Bull Stratos

Red Bull insists its mega-stunt, dubbed “the mission to the edge of space,” was not an advertising campaign, and that’s exactly why the campaign and marketing industry can’t get enough of it. “It’s all brand behavior here.…That wasn’t an ad. It was behavior unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Mike Byrne, chief creative officer at Anomaly.

However, in an environment where it’s incredibly hard to capture consumers’ attention, an energy drink managed to captivate the world with its Stratos project. In October 2012, Red Bull helped Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner freefall jump from 24 miles above the earth, breaking five records, according to officials at Guinness World Records. Mr. Baumgartner became the first human to break the sound barrier without engine power.

“The Red Bull Stratos project was, first and foremost, a scientific mission documented by our broadcast and editorial teams for seven years. Red Bull Stratos was not an advertising campaign,” said Red Bull spokeswoman Patrice Radden. She declined to comment further for this story. And while that may be true on the surface, footage from the stunt was featured in an ad campaign that kicked off in January 2013. Additional footage was released in the months following the stunt and continued to boost the brand.

A year after the stunt, a video showing the fall from Mr. Baumgartner’s perspective—with just the sound of wind and the flapping fabric of his protective suit—racked up 5.3 million views. That brought the campaign’s cumulative views to more than 207 million, according to Visible Measures.

All told, Stratos generated millions in earned media and helped boost sales. In the six months immediately following the stunt, Red Bull’s sales rose 7% to $1.6 billion in the U.S., according to research firm IRI. According to the private company, it sold more than 5.39 billion cans in 2013, an increase of 3% over 2012.

The event was carried on nearly 80 TV stations in 50 countries. The live webcast was distributed through 280 digital partners and racked up 52 million views, making it the most-watched live stream in history. Red Bull Media House, the brand’s global media company, even earned a Sports Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches-Sports Event Coverage earlier this year.

Across the board, TV stations, news reports and journalists all referred to the event as “Red Bull Stratos” rather than shortening it to simply “Stratos,” as is so common with branded events. “The amazing thing about this campaign is that we don’t feel any odiousness to see the logo,” said Naoki Ito, chief creative officer at Party. “This brand changed the concept of sponsoring.”


• BMW Films

BMW pours $17 million into a brand campaign that involves destroying its product. That’s exactly what Fallon and BMW did with “The Hire,” a web-based series of short films that broke every rule in the book on its way to becoming a Harvard Business School case study and the first campaign ever to win a Titanium Lion at Cannes.

Instead of using one big-name director, “The Hire” tapped several. Under the watch of Anonymous Content co-founder David Fincher (who executive produced the first season), “The Hire” secured icons including John Frankenheimer and Ang Lee to tell the story of a nameless man who transports people or cargo from one place to another in his BMW.

Instead of lingering, loving looks at the car’s curves, the shorts featured plenty of footage of BMWs getting smashed, shot at and damaged as they sped in and out of danger. And instead of sharing them through a traditional channel, Fallon put “The Hire” shorts online, four years before the launch of YouTube.

“The Hire” looked like a crazy idea, but it was backed by sturdy insights. Jim McDowell, then VP-marketing for BMW, had commissioned research back in 2000 that suggested web video could reach many more people than even a large traditional platform like a Super Bowl commercial. He also knew that 75% of BMW owners were already visiting BMW’s website and that 85% of car purchasers visited a maker’s website before heading to a showroom.


• Dove Real Beauty

Many ad campaigns over the years have sold soap. Fewer have tried to change societal notions about beauty. Even fewer have tried to do both. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” is the campaign that did it.

The campaign that had its origins in London and Canada with a billboard asking motorists to vote on whether the women pictured were “fat or fit?” or “wrinkled or wonderful?” kicked off a conversation about society’s notions of female standards of beauty. It also arrived at a time when digital media allowed consumers to interact and share the campaign’s messages in a way that allowed it to go viral on a global scale.

Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” is the only campaign cited by every one of the Advertising Age judges as belonging on this list, and one that was described by the panel as groundbreaking, brave, bold, insightful, transparent and authentic.

While the US business did pay for the biggest part of an outdoor effort behind the campaign in 2004 from Ogilvy, Chicago, and the “Little Girls” Super Bowl ad in 2005 from Ogilvy, Toronto, what really propelled the campaign to prominence was the 2006 “Evolution” viral video, also from the Toronto office. “Evolution” highlighted the practice of photoshopping women’s images, which soon became a hot topic on numerous morning talk shows and in the media.

That relatively small-budget effort funded by Unilever Canada didn’t stay in Canada, of course. It was one of the first truly viral branded videos. “It went global in, like, two seconds,” Ms. Vonk said, recounting how Edelman, New York, got it placed on “Good Morning America” and other talk shows, helping it spread like wildfire and establishing what’s become an established conduit for creating branded viral hits.


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