What once might have seemed a novel concept, thoroughly integrated campaigns have become a key part of today's marketing landscape. Today's consumers see brand messages echoed across so many different channels that it's difficult to imagine a time when the majority of marketing campaigns were platform specific.
In an integrated campaign, the ads, direct mail, public relations, and all other aspects of a campaign must be consistent in tone. After all, the goal is to achieve a seamless communication with the audience that extends across a variety of channels. But for an integrated campaign to be great, it takes more than just consistent messaging across the board. Today's best campaigns do more than just repeat themselves. A truly excellent integrated campaign takes the multi-platform approach to the next level by using each channel to feed into an overarching story.
The following list of recent campaigns embodies the idea that each platform in an integrated effort should be part of a greater branding story. The campaigns in this article take integrated marketing beyond the textbook definition and weave an elaborate tapestry that becomes more valuable as each piece of the puzzle comes into play.
Can you think of a great integrated campaign we might have missed? Let us know in the comments section.
Universal Pictures' "Despicable Me" campaign
Agency: Varied/mobile app created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky
About the campaign: Promotion surrounding Universal Pictures' animated film "Despicable Me" combines classic marketing channels (TV, print, radio, outdoor, etc.) with an innovative approach toward online, mobile, and branded partnerships. The film's interactive trailer and mobile application meshes nicely with the campaign's other messaging to create an innovative and unified experience.
Why it's great: Big movie campaigns are famous for marketing across as many channels as possible, but there is a thin line between informing and intoxicating your audience. Like many films, "Despicable Me" made the most of classic media channels, but its online efforts and branded partnerships are what separate this campaign from the rest of the pack.
As online video continues to increase in popularity, so do the capabilities of the platform. "Despicable Me" made the most of online video's potential when it launched an interactive trailer for the film, one of the first of its kind.
The interactive trailer not only provides a preview of the movie, but viewers can also click almost any object within the trailer to unlock character biographies, movie secrets, hidden features, and other surprises. The i-trailer has a link to the film's official page, along with a tab that enables interested viewers to buy tickets for the movie online. The trailer is part of a fully interactive website that features reviews of the film and social media chatter while also serving as a portal where fans of the movie can create their own custom T-shirts.
"Despicable Me" brought its campaign to the next level when it teamed up with Best Buy to release a mobile application. Viewers can use the application to translate what the film's Minion characters are saying during the end credits of the movie. It's a unique way to improve the movie-watching experience, and it fits perfectly with the overarching structure of the campaign.
The levels of depth given to the campaign not only informed but also energized consumers, helping to make "Despicable Me" one of the more memorable films of the 2010 summer movie season.
Target's Hello Manhattan campaign
About the campaign: To announce its grand opening in Manhattan, Target used a variety of outdoor ads and sponsored content, coupled with an elaborate Facebook effort, to weave its brand into the fabric of New York City. The retail giant teamed up with a local agency to create ads that not only announce the company's arrival, but also embody the true spirit of the Big Apple.
Why it's great: When Target decided to open its first store in New York City, the company had a clear challenge facing it: How could the brand gain awareness and acceptance for a new store in a location that is already heavily saturated with retailers?
It was no small feat, but Target achieved its goal by creating an elaborate integrated campaign that plastered the company's image and messaging across the city. From billboards to bus wraps, skyscrapers to subway cars, Target branded its new store as a pleasant, new addition to the city.
The ads were consistent from the context right down to the color scheme, and their unique look and feel allowed Target's messaging to stand out in a city that is already inundated with ads.
For this campaign, Target needed more than just consistent messaging across the city. In order to succeed, the brand needed to literally become a part of New York, and did this through a variety of local efforts. For example, Target managed to score front-page coverage of its grand opening in several popular local publications, including the New York Post and the New York Daily News. It also brought a number of New York clothing designers into the store to increase local appeal, and if that's wasn't enough, the company even had the chain's mascot, a miniature bull terrier, ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
One might have expected the festivities to settle down after Target opened its doors, but the retailer had something additional up its sleeve. Less than a month after its official welcome to the city, Target unveiled a top-secret project called the Target Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular. The brand refused to give specifics on the project, but it told New Yorkers to gather at the base of The Standard Hotel on August 18 for "a night of harmoniously synchronized fashion, light and sound." Target chose The Standard Hotel in order to retain local appeal, but the retail giant knew online audiences would be intrigued as well. For this reason, the brand wisely decided to stream video from the event live on Facebook.
The Facebook element enabled audiences not only to tune in for the show, but to also watch from multiple camera angles. The company also empowered the Facebook faithful to upload photos from the event and become part of the social chatter. By turning the event into a social media spectacle, Target did its part to assure the Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular would excite audiences well beyond the boroughs of New York.
From inception to execution, Target hit a homerun with its Hello Manhattan campaign, and it should come as no surprise that New Yorkers have embraced the brand's new location.
Toyota's Sienna Family campaign
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
About the campaign: After years of running review-driven, product-focused ads, Toyota took an entirely new approach with its Sienna Family campaign. It took the focus off of car features and looked instead at how those features influence the family dynamic. The quirky ads introduce us to two proud parents who struggle to manage their young children. The ads revolve entirely around the family itself and emphasize on how the car's features make life easier for everyone involved.
Why it's great: Toyota was posed with a new challenge after its massive global recall earlier this year: How does a brand that has positioned itself as "safe" assuage widespread concerns that it is no longer trustworthy?
Firestone faced the same problem in 2000 when its tires caused blowouts that led to more than 250 deaths. Upon questioning regarding the incident at a U.S. congressional hearing, CEO of Firestone Masatoshi Ono remarked that the accidents were due to Ford defects -- and obviously had nothing to do with Firestone's tires. Like Toyota, Firestone had always marketed its products as the "safe choice" for drivers, and the company figured that shifting blame, coupled with new ads that focused even more heavily on safety than before, was all the company would need to get back on track.
Toyota took a different approach than Firestone following its safety fiasco. Instead of trying to repair its image by denying blame and running a slew of contrived, safety-saturated ads, Toyota found another way to make us feel safe -- by showing us how its automobiles can benefit the health and happiness of our families.
Having a great integrated campaign takes more than clever rebranding, however. A true integrated campaign requires careful planning, and Toyota showed a lot of foresight by running the Sienna Family TV spots with a clear call-to-action at the end of each ad, summoning interested viewers to learn more at the company's YouTube page. Unlike many campaigns that will post television commercials online after the TV spots have aired, Toyota did an exceptional job of integrating all of its channels from the start. The company believed that its audience would flock to YouTube, and 5.7 million page views later, it seems Toyota was right.
What truly makes this a noteworthy integrated campaign, however, is that Toyota did more than just port its TV spots to web. Hosting commercials online is great, but creating original content to complement your other messaging is even better. The now-famous Swagger Wagon music video posted on the company's YouTube page features the Sienna parents performing a hip-hop song about the car.
The video is a homerun on all fronts because it 1) features the main characters from the original commercials, 2) meshes with the overall corny appeal of the campaign, and 3) the music video is perfect for web, proving that Toyota knows how the channel should be used.
Car manufacturers are no strangers to integrated campaigns, but few are done with such spot-on execution. Toyota manages to wow us with a family-focused, funny-yet-sweet campaign that succeeds across multiple platforms, while at the same time repairing its branding crisis.
Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
About the campaign: What began as a simple series of TV spots has evolved into one of the greatest social media campaigns of all time. The ads feature Isaiah Mustafa, a suave and shirtless man who represents the epitome of "what men should be." Although the product is designed and targeted for men, the ads often address "the ladies" in order to suggest that neglecting to use Old Spice might cause your girlfriend or spouse to move on to a better-smelling guy.
Why it's great: The campaign has been held up as a prime example of how to get an integrated approach right on all fronts. Old Spice began by launched a series of television ads that introduced us to a new character with a clear message: Wear Old Spice, or you're not a real man. Old Spice targeted these ads to young adults and used social media to repost the ads all over the web. The quirky humor appealed to youth markets, which responded by storming social media channels with messages of praise for the ads.
As most social media gurus would agree, true engagement requires more than just posting your content online. It requires two-way communication, something that utilizes the true capabilities of the platform. Old Spice recognized this need by creating more than 200 short videos that responded to comments and questions directed at "the Old Spice guy" via Twitter, Facebook, and a handful of other social networking sites.
The appeal of these customized responses led to thousands of questions from excited social media users who hoped the Old Spice guy would answer their questions. While the video responses addressed only a portion of the thousands of questions that were submitted to Old Spice, they were so well done that it really didn't matter who had asked the question -- or in many cases even what the question was. The team of writers, art directors, producers, and editors surrounding the project crafted responses that anyone could enjoy -- not just the person who had originally submitted the question.
From both a conceptual and technological level, Old Spice has wowed us all. Not only was it ingenious to create video responses featuring the main character from the ads, but it was done with such speed and skill that many people asked how it was possible to go from concept to execution so quickly. There have been a lot of great integrated campaigns this year, but few have forced us to question how they were technically possible, and the brand used platforms in ways that we haven't seen before. Old Spice has raised the bar for social media integration to a level that is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.
Integrated campaigns are no longer just mirrors of the same message being repeated in different channels. Rather, each channel feeds into a greater brand story. It's no longer enough to simply hit a multitude of channels with "consistent messaging." Instead, marketers need to weave a branded tapestry in which each message contributes to a greater whole.
Whether it's Old Spice or Target, "Despicable Me" or the Sienna family, all of these campaigns take integration beyond consistency, with each message acting as a smaller piece of a greater story. With more tools at marketers' fingertips than ever before, the ability to build a brand story is only getting easier. As digital technologies gain increased acceptance among consumers, the capabilities of each platform will expand. Old Spice might be the top integrated campaign of this year, but something greater is likely just around the bend.
Did we overlook your favorite integrated campaign from this year? If so, please let us know in the comments section.
Greg Bardsley is lead video editor of iMedia Connection.