Old Spice, Chickens, and Bears- Oh My! A Look at the Art of Interactive Advertising

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Academics, Advertising, Art, Branding, Industry Research, Marketing, Social Media, Technology, Tools/Gadgets, TV
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September 02, 2010- http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978491387

Smart advertisers and marketers know that part of building awareness of a brand and attachment to a brand these days involves allowing the consumer to feel as if they are a part of the brand, and the brand is a part of them.

The most innovative way to elicit this feeling among increasingly jaded consumers is to allow them to participate in the way a product is sold to them, or presented to an overall greater audience. In other words, to integrate elements of “interactive or collaborative advertising” into their overall marketing strategy.

Some of this is revolutionary stuff, and is still regarded as too dangerous by most traditional advertising, marketing and brand agencies the world over. Ostensibly, what it means is giving consumers permission to experiment with, and command some control of, a brand. If I may go down a yellow brick road of an analogy, this is no less than cutting down the Wizard’s curtain and revealing the small man behind it, subsequently allowing the consumer to revel in his or her discovery of the small man, and as a result of said revelation, being amply empowered to get Dorothy back from Oz to Kansas his or her self.

But when it works, it works so, so well.

Let us take, for example, the Old Spice Guy. If you’ve never seen or heard of Isaiah Mustafa, or any of the YouTube response videos that the company launched in response to Tweets it was receiving, then you must be dead or on a remote desert island with no smartphone. This ad campaign which has incorporate TV ads, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube so well has dominated most of this year’s buzz conversations.

How about something more recent? Tipp-Ex is a correction fluid brand (think White-Out), who recently launched a YouTube video ad campaign which allows the viewer to determine the end of the story. The viewer first watches the setup video where a guy camping with his friend is alerted that a bear is right behind him, and is urged by his friend who is videotaping the event to shoot the bear. The video viewer is at this juncture permitted to decide if the man should shoot the bear, or not. After making the decision, the viewer is redirected to a video in which the camper urges the viewer to rewrite the story.

The whole thing is highly reminiscent of “advertising and design factory,” CP+B’s groundbreaking 2001 “Subservient Chicken” campaign for Burger King, where visitors to the website can type in any command and a man dressed in a chicken suit on a webcam performs the requested function. So while Tipp-Ex’s overall concept isn’t new, their delivery is.

Largely what’s interesting about interactive or collaborative advertising is that it nicely paints the line between earned media and paid media. A company pays to create the initial ad, but then by virtue of the fun of interacting with it and collaborating it, consumers share and continue to virally promote that ad, which is where your earned media begins to kick in.

These concepts aren’t exactly brand new, but their integration into basic marketing strategies is, and increasingly larger companies are beginning to take notice of how much buzz can be generated through earned media without having to necessarily pay for every step of it. In addition, not every company has experienced skyrocketing revenues as a result of investing in interactive advertising, so the science here and how to master it is still relatively new.

One thing’s for sure, however. It sure makes advertising a lot more fun from the consumer perspective.


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