How to Strike Marketing Gold

How to Strike Marketing Gold

Some of the best successes with social media and marketing campaigns have been achieved by companies promoting an idea that has nothing to do with the company itself. An advertisement, contest, or poll doesn’t have to be relevant to a company, sometimes they just have to be fun. Some of the silliest ideas have turned out to be the most genius. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
The Ice Bucket Challenge, which I know you are probably overwhelmed with hearing of (but hey, that’s the goal of every campaign), originated from the idea that a “Cold Water Challenge” could be performed to raise money against cancer. Accepters of the challenge had to donate or jump in cold water. Simple enough. On June 30, 2014, TV personalities on Morning Drive performed the Ice Bucket Challenge live, and on July 15th an anchor from The Today Show quickly followed suit. The same day, a golfer named Chris Kennedy performed the challenge, and then challenged his cousin Jeanette, whose husband had been battling ALS for eleven years. The attention was now brought to ALS. Pete Frates, who played baseball at Boston College and who has ALS, brought the challenge to social media when he mentioned it on Twitter. And the worldwide donation campaign was born.
This is the perfect summer challenge, or at least I, a resident of Florida, believe so. I would thoroughly enjoy pouring a bucket of ice water on my head in the middle of a 90 degree afternoon, especially if it’s for a cause. Between June 1st and August 13th, there have been 1.2 million videos posted to Facebook and over 2.2 million mentions on Twitter. This is the quickest spreading trend we have seen in social media in a very long time, and unlike memes and pointless videos of people who find themselves comical, this trend is actually benefiting the entire world, and all patients of ALS. Personally, I think it’s very refreshing to see social media be used in the right ways, to form a bond between people of all sorts, to stand behind something powerful and to make a difference.
It’s true that not everyone completing the challenge, or declining a nomination, is donating. In the grand scheme of things, that’s okay, because these people are still raising awareness. Granted, it would be generous to do both, but we can’t expect this from everyone out there.
On the ALS Association website, the first mention of the challenge occurred on August 6th, 2014, in which Pete Frates was personally thanked for spreading awareness.  Six days later, the challenge was mentioned again for taking the U.S. by storm. Since then, there has been at least one mention every single day, mostly quoting the amount of money raised.  If you look on the list of these news posts on their website, you can see the donation sum rise by approximately $10 million per day from August 19th to August 25th. What an awesome accomplishment for ALS!
All of that money was raised by linking an irrelevant concept with a not-so-well-known disease.  Apparently, before the Ice Bucket Challenge, only half of Americans have heard of ALS. Dumping a bucket of ice water on your head seems ridiculous, but it’s easy, accessible to everyone, and dare I say it, fun. Let’s be honest, we’ve all done things that are ridiculous. At least this is one thing we can be proud of.
More Unrelated Genius
In 2006, the companies PokerShare.com and CasinoShare.com gave away free gasoline to New Yorkers. How much? 8,000 gallons. People of New York lined up to receive $40 each in free gas, while enjoying free food and music. The stunt had to actually be shut down because of traffic buildup from people trying to get their share.  The generous donation of these companies ended up making the evening news, and was covered by Fox News, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.  Because everyone today is concerned with rising gas prices, this was the perfect way to reach 9 million people and get their attention through a giveaway completely unrelated to poker, or casinos. The companies got their names out there, and gained a good reputation for being charitable.
Sometimes being generous pays off. And sometimes a good joke will do it too. Burger King decided to play an April Fool’s joke in 1998 in which they advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper”.  The burger was designed to include all of the same condiments, but those condiments would be shifted to the left, so nothing would spill out of the right.  So, a good portion of the 32 million people in America who are left-handed went to their local Burger King, oblivious to the sarcasm.  Maybe they were disappointed and angry at the hoax, but they ordered the normal burger anyways. Burger King raised their sales for that day by having one hell of a sense of humor. Hopefully the people crushed by the non-existent left-handed burger came around, and found humor in the prank too.
We can’t give Burger King all the credit.  Taco Bell was the original prankster, and probably the inspiration for Burger King, when the company announced it would be purchasing the Liberty Bell and naming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”  People complained, called, and ranted.  By noon that day, April 1st, 1996, Taco Bell admitted it was an April Fool’s joke.  Their revenue that day increased by $500,000 and by $600,000 the day after.  Again, it’s all about calling attention to the company.
These silly ideas ended up being marketing gold, if only even just for a day. But for now, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge still takes the cake, in terms of the most and fastest money increase.
So what is the lesson learned? Get creative, let loose, be silly, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
This is a post by our Creative Writer, Gabrielle Nagengast. 

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