We’ve all been watching examples of great brand efforts that resulted in a lot of sharing and discussion of brand content. That is, content that gets shared or passed around (like the first Man Your Man Could Smell Like or the Darth Vader VW spot) or talked about a lot (like Old Spice WolfDog efforts or the recent Dove work). We all get excited about the idea of this kind of content for the right reasons:
- Friend to friend sharing is a much more efficient way for your content to get reach. You don’t have to pay for the media
- Friend to friend sharing comes with an implied endorsement, so it’s more likely to be received well
- Word of mouth drives interest in the brand
- It’s generally done digitally, so you can often see the data trail
- And, when it’s digital, it can live pretty much forever in the Google search results (for better or worse).
- Ultimately, it just makes your paid media work harder
A lot of the examples we see seem like viral magic, an alchemic reaction cooked up by a lucky wizard. But, increasingly, we’re seeing examples that are pre-planned and pre-programmed for sharing; creative efforts that were specifically designed and built for sharing, which is different than how we typically approach it. We generally plan a great TV idea, then seek something else – “surround”, social content, magic influencer dust – that gets our stuff shared. In the worst cases, we try to engineer the sharing of a tv spot, something that is, by almost all definitions, content for a passive audience. It’s doomed to fail. Except for some edge cases, nobody cares enough about your tv ad to share it with their friends.
So, how do you design creative and execution specifically for sharing? No one has the secret, but the two examples below characterize the best of what I’m seeing when brands try to generate a lot of sharing (vs. simple awareness) and discussion.
Oreo – Wonderfilled
You can almost hear the brief on this one. “the Daily Twist worked great; we’ve got 33 million fans. How do we get people – young people - talking about our product, preferably online?” Or, put more simply: Get as many people as possible creating content about our brand: sharing it, talking about, reacting to it, etc. From the very conception, this was an idea that was about social sharing and discussion as much as it was about the product and brand.
First: What is it that they created? Is it an ad? A music video? A song? A commercial? Social Object? All of the above?
Second: the idea was open ended and designed for a consumer response – “What would happen if *you* were given an oreo?” It almost demands the consumer think about it and perhaps respond.
Third: The execution was truly talkable. Remarkable, even.
- Owl City is either loved or loathed, depending on who you are. Hipsters in Brooklyn probably moaned, but the tweens and young adults cheered. They all did it on social media.
- The song is, depending on your perspective, either awesome or sacharine. No middle ground. Lots of debate.
- The idea of top of the pops singer writing a love song to a brand? Sellout! Savvy! Debatable.
- Even the animation was discussable
Fourth: The rollout was designed for sharing:
- Stunt media buy: They launched it as a 90 during madmen, when
all the ad nerds were watching, knowing it would generate discussion. Lots to
- A 90! Who does those?
- Visually, it was SO different from the show, it was noteworthy just by juxtaposition
- They did a 90 so the ad skippers would HAVE to see it and go back (“What was THAT?!?”)
- They rolled it out via their FB page (33 mm fans)
- They had OwlCity tweet it to his fans (>1M) and Twitter followers (>1MM)
- They supported it with lots of PR and events (again, to get
the kids talking)
In hindsight, it’s really, really clear that their goal was to do something remarkable, in a remarkable way so that people would talk about, giving extra reach to their efforts. TV was just the stimulus to get the talking started.
REI- Sharing as part of a Collaborative project
REI recently launched their 1440 project with the goal of capturing 24 hours of people doing what they loved in nature (1440 minutes). Pictures for every minute of the day. It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve seen. For REI, “sharing” was a way to generate both incremental reach (through the shared content) but also a way to create a marketing asset. For every picture contributed, REI asked the contributor to share it to *their* networks. And, each image became part of the overall collection, available for all future visitors. Plus, this effort resulted in at least 1440 pieces of content that could get shared out to REI’s network over the course of the year, and presumably each of those 1440+ images were good enough that when published to REI’s feed, the fans/followers would then like/retweet or favorite the images out to their network.
But, to me, the best part of this project is that it comes right from their values – celebrate being out in nature – and their core purpose as a coop: A collective effort to help their members have their own kind of experience, to inspire and celebrate others who are doing the same. This whole project demonstrates their values perfectly.