Innovation is a term thrown around a lot, but when you find examples that highlight the true meaning, they deserve to be shouted about.
At this year’s Cannes Lions, we were spoiled for choice when it comes to digital innovation. For me, several campaigns stood out for their intelligent use of cross-platform messaging and creative implementation of digital channels. Below are three winners, which used everyday online platforms in novel ways.
The Self-Destructing Book
Author James Patterson wanted to transfer the thrills from the page and into the lives of his readers for the launch of his latest book. Teaming up with agency, Mother, the author sold one early copy of his book to a lucky bidder for the price of $294,038. The catch? The book was rigged to explode in 24 hours, giving the reader a real-life race against the clock to finish the story before the bomb went off (in the presence of a real-life bomb squad).
But the campaign also went digital, issuing 1000 iPad copies of the book to fans who had signed up on Patterson’s website. As each page was turned, it was destroyed by a sinister ‘page burner’, meaning there was no going back. And yes, in addition, the digital copies were also rigged to ‘explode’ in 24 hours. The ability to ‘steal time’ from other digital readers, as well as an online leader board, added a social element to the campaign.
In total, a cumulative 13,896 hours were spent reading and the campaign had over 419.8 million impressions, making it a runaway success for Patterson and a perfect example of how real-world and digital-world can be fused in a highly targeted, experience-driven campaign.
‘Unskippable’ Pre-Roll Ads
With the adblocking conversation continuing in the press, this entry is particularly timely. Video pre-roll ads on websites such as YouTube are often seen as intrusive, with research showing that as many as 94% of users skip them as soon as the compulsory five seconds have played out.
But if the message fits the platform and the format, ads can be as welcome as any other content. And this is what Geico found with its ‘Unskippable ads’ campaign. In partnership with The Martin Agency, the company produced a series of custom videos lampooning the reputation of pre-roll ads, and embracing YouTube’s five second rule.
Each video begins with a five second ad which delivers the company message. At the end of the five seconds, the ad ‘freezes’, before devolving into a comedy of errors.
The campaign is brilliantly unique. By embracing the five second format, it subverts all expectations about pre-roll ads and presents a fresh solution to the biggest question of YouTube advertising--how do you get users to keep watching after five seconds?
I Will What I Want
Known as a predominantly male brand, sportswear label Under Armour sought to break this perception with the signing of a number of high-profile female role models in its latest campaign, created by Droga5. Of all the signees, supermodel Gisele Bundchen's contribution garnered the most attention.
The message of the campaign was simple--drown out the noise, the judgement and the criticism, and achieve your goals through sheer force of will. Anticipating the criticism of online users, Under Armour announced the partnership and through a smart algorithm, set up a live social experiment on its landing page--pulling in comments from around the web as they were posted. The information was dropped into the videos while the website’s analytics program monitored the “for vs against” conversation and presented the results live on the website. In the brand’s own words, “for the first time the entire social discussion around one person was happening on one website in real time, proving will beats noise, live.”
The visual is striking, and the campaign made the masculine brand a symbol of female athletic aspiration. It attracted 1.5 billion media impressions and increased traffic to their website by 42%. In short an excellent example of how real-time marketing can be taken to the next level.