Over the last few years, many brands have found new success by dusting off classic marketing campaigns and invigorating them with new life via digital extensions. The staying power of these classic campaigns was often rooted in iconic taglines, compelling imagery, or memorable mascots, and those qualities translate perfectly to new digital channels and tools like Twitter hashtags, Facebook profiles, and interactive gaming.
With the advent of these new digital channels, brands have been able to breath new life into their old-school marketing campaigns and introduce their brands and products to a new audience -- not only generationally, but often targeting entirely different consumer segments than the original campaign intended to reach.
Read on for a snapshot of five classic campaigns that recently received digital facelifts.
Wendy's: "Where's the Beef?"
Last year, Wendy's revived what many describe -- perhaps just when they're hungry -- as the most iconic catchphrase in advertising history: "Where's the beef?" The classic 1984 broadcast campaign in which Clara Peller questioned the burger portions at the "Home of the Big Bun" was re-introduced to promote the overhaul of Wendy's single, double, and triple burgers.
In addition to running the campaign across traditional channels (TV, print, and radio), the campaign was launched in tandem with a promotional microsite -- WheresTheBeef.com -- and extended online via digital banner ads, content integration across Wendy's Facebook and Twitter channels, and QR codes where all campaign messaging finally answered the question and declared, "Here's the beef!"
The most buzzed-about component of the campaign was Wendy's use of Facebook to distribute tens of thousands of "Where's the Beef?" T-shirts. Consumers who "liked" the brand and completed a short series of games and questions within a branded Facebook application were able to reserve their choice of one of five styles of "Where's the Beef?" inspired tees. In addition to quickly amassing an increased Facebook following, the brand successfully reintroduced the classic tagline into pop culture lexicon and reinforced the associated value proposition (bigger burgers) to a new digitally connected audience. Today, Wendy's boasts more than 2.3 million Facebook fans.
Developed in 1957 by Tatham-Laird & Kudner, Mr. Clean is iconically clean in appearance -- glistening bald head, stark white T-shirt, clean-shaven face. That all changed this past November when P&G gave Mr. Clean a literal facelift and aligned its brand mascot with Movember, the men's health fundraiser and awareness campaign.
Over the course of the testosterone-fueled month, Mr. Clean sported a variety of different staches with the thickness and style being dictated in accordance with the number of "likes" the brand page received on Facebook. The campaign was tracked on the Facebook page via a "Moustache O' Meter," with Mr. Clean encouraging brand followers to donate funds to help his team of "Mo Bros" raise money to support awareness and treatment for prostate cancer and other men's health initiatives.
The campaign perfectly encapsulated the spirit of Movember -- a hip, irreverent celebration of manliness rooted in a cause -- while helping the brand refine its online voice and connect with an entirely new consumer segment. In accordance with the brand's Movember participation, Mr. Clean has developed a fun, youth-relevant personality that is helping to make Mr. Clean as much a part of the age 18-34 world as it is the age 35-54, head-of-household audience.
Leveraging social channels to breathe new life into the brand, and specifically tying Mr. Clean's upper lip to Facebook, was a big win. By aligning the status of his stache to the brand's Facebook "likes," P&G uncovered an easy mechanism for the brand to grow its fanbase while providing a built-in reason to motivate sharing among friends and family. The only element missing was an associated donation on behalf of the brand for each additional follower gained during the month. Hopefully that's coming this November -- along with a beautiful handlebar moustache.
As part of Google's Re:Brief project announced at South by Southwest, Coke offered refreshments to fans around the globe by refreshing its iconic "Hilltop" advertisement (in which consumers memorably sang "I want to buy the world a Coke and keep it company") through a suite of digital tools.
Consumers were able to literally enact the song lyrics featured during the original television spot by gifting an actual can of soda to someone else on the other side of the world via a technology-enabled vending machine. The digital tools that drove the campaign, which would have been considered science fiction in 1971, identified a gifter's geography based on that person's computer IP address and then virtually connected him or her with a thirsty gift recipient across the globe who was at a connected vending machine.
Before gifting the soda, consumers were able to create a video or picture message via webcam or photo upload, add a custom text message, and then hit "send" to watch their sodas travel across Google Earth to the waiting consumer. On the ground, the high-tech vending machine displayed the associated personal greeting and the city from where the coke had been "given."
In addition to the "Hilltop" commercial, the Re:Brief effort by Google reimagined three campaigns including Alka-Seltzer's "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" spot, Avis' "We try harder" campaign, and a 1963 Volvo campaign with the tag "Drive it like you hate it." Funded entirely by Google, Project Re:Brief is a Google marketing effort aimed to reimagine the original creative briefs of iconic marketing campaigns while simultaneously highlighting a suite of Google's products, including Google Maps, Google Mobile, Google Translate, YouTube, and Gmail.
Click here for a detailed look at how the campaign worked.
Who doesn't remember the original famous "Got milk?" commercial ("Who shot Alexander Hamilton?") from the early '90s? Or the seemingly never-ending who's who of milk-moustached celebrity print ads touting the nutritional benefits of milk? Over the years, the "Got milk?" campaign has slowly evolved to target new demographics and highlight various benefits of milk. But with the recent messaging shift to attack the soy milk industry, "Got milk?" has leveraged digital tools to add life to the campaign and reinforce the superiority of real milk to soy milk.
From the dedicated "Got milk?" website, consumers can conduct their own experiment in the "Science of Imitation Milk," an engaging science-themed game show experience. Visitors can use their computer or Apple or Android smartphone or tablet device to reinact the process of creating "alternate" milk options -- soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk -- through an engaging science-themed game show experience.
The interactivity of the campaign provides a fun experience to users while reinforcing the brand's key message by showcasing the multi-ingredient composition of alternate milk choices. The built-in sharing functionality through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ chicklets provides a nice social extension to help spread the "Got milk?" message. This "Got (real) milk?" update is an interesting extension to the traditional campaign and effectively leverages social, mobile, and interactive web technologies to extend the campaign in today's digital world.
The Coca-Cola Polar Bears
The loveable Coca-Cola polar bears first appeared in a French print advertisement in 1922. For the next 70 years, these white fluff balls appeared sporadically in a variety of print advertising for the brand. In 1993, Coke made a dramatic shift in its advertising efforts by introducing the "Always Coca-Cola" campaign, which included the animated polar bears in the "North Lights" spot.
Ken Stewart, the creator of the iconic bears, said his team wanted to "create a character that's innocent, fun, and reflects the best attributes we like to call 'human.' The bears are cute, mischievous, playful, and filled with fun."
The bears came one step closer to acting like humans with this year's "Polar Bowl." The Polar Bowl, a live stream featuring the bears' real-time reactions to the Super Bowl game, commercials, and halftime show, coincided with the Super Bowl. The Coca-Cola polar bears cheered for opposing teams, one for the Patriots and one for the Giants.
Prior to kick-off, 32,000 people had RSVPed on Facebook -- 15 times the goal. On Super Bowl Sunday, the @CocaCola Twitter handle featured tweets solely from the polar bears, resulting in a 12.5 percent increase in U.S. followers before the game started. While Coke had anticipated that people would briefly check it out on their computers (estimate 2.5 minutes), the brand found people spent a significant amount of time watching the live stream (on average, 28 minutes!) -- with consumers even sending Twitpics of computer screens with the live stream on next to the TV screen showing the game. The bears' reactions to the game garnered plenty of chatter in the social space, resulting in heavy traffic to the stream.
The polar bears also had a spot in the Super Bowl. The brand prepared two versions of a 60-second spot slated to run during the second quarter, so it could determine which was most appropriate to the game (based on which team was winning). Right before the spot aired, the brand choose the version where the bear cheering for the Giants had to vent his frustrations over the team's lackluster performance.
This campaign takes Stewart's original vision for the polar bears one step further. The bears reflect more than just the "best attributes in humans." They are no longer just cute, fun, and cuddly -- they are sports fans just like you, who feel the same vehement emotions as you. Leveraging the ability for digital channels to react in real time, the Polar Bowl helped further personify the bears and build an even deeper connection with the audience.
Matt Jacobs is director of integrated marketing at AMP Agency.
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Cover image via YouTube.
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