Marketing Stunts – What Works (and What Doesn’t)

Marketing Stunts – What Works (and What Doesn’t)

Marketing Stunts – What Works (and What Doesn’t) 1900 1200 DAY Vision

There’s a fine-line between what makes a successful marketing campaign and what breaks one.

It is easy to step over this line when one component of the plan gets overlooked or forgotten. There is no tangible way to predict the future of your campaign but there are steps that every marketer should take when creating one.

Let’s get down to basics.

The audience: Whoever you define as your target audience for your campaign should be the ones driving each decision you make throughout the entirety of your project. As a strategist, you must always consider elements like demographics, psychographics, geographics, and behavioral characteristics of who it is you are trying to solve a particular problem for.

The content: Every audience is different in the way that they view content. This is why choosing the right format is so important. Is it in written work, social media, a press release, images or video? You need to consider what comes most naturally. Your message should be the center of attention and the way in which you showcase it should not become a distraction to the viewer.

The offer: Make sure the audience knows that you are offering them something that they can’t get anywhere else, and make it urgent. This is your call to action. Tell them exactly what they need to do, and when! Use this element of your campaign to focus on your business offer and how it will personally help them.

The promotion, distribution and follow up: By being engaging, timely, and inspiring, your audience will be compelled to spread the news on their own! The most important part of the entire process of creating a marketing campaign is nurturing your leads once you have them. Continue to check in and share valuable information with them and remind them of your value. This will boost credibility and trust for your brand, two of the most important aspects when forming a business to audience relationship.

Marketing stunts: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Now that we know what the basics of what makes a successful marketing, let’s explore some real-world examples of what’s been going on in the advertising world lately.

The Good: Payless Upscale Prank

Payless provided us with a true marketing stunt success story in November of 2018. After realizing their problem of being largely recognized solely as a cheap shoe store found in malls, Payless decided to do something about it. They hosted a private launch party of a new luxury brand called “Palessi” which was claimed to be designed by Italian designer Bruno Palessi.

Little did customers know, there was no such designer. Payless dressed up a rented location to look like a high-end establishment with bright fluorescent lights, shoes lined in glass shelving, statues, and even champagne served to the guests. Regular Payless shoes were marked up to be worth hundreds of dollars. And as they predicted, influencers bought them. But not only did they buy them, they LOVED them. Read more about the prank here.

Although Payless didn’t keep prices like this or keep the show going on for long, they did gain a lot of attention from their prank. The company that created the campaign used the term “cultural hacking” when describing their approach. It brought Payless back into the cultural discourse of the fashion and shoe industry and got people talking. It was a great feat for distribution of a message because they were creative and concise with their execution. They acknowledged their problem of only being recognized as “cheap” and faced it head on. They kept their target audience in mind the entire time, knowing that influencers would be intrigued by the expense and the class that they were now presenting.

The outcome of Payless’ campaign was that it had their audience rethinking the quality of Payless for the better and it got their name out into the world again after lacking that publicity for a long time.

The Bad: North Face Wikipedia

North Face pulled a stunt this May that left their audiences disappointed in the brand as a whole. The company hired an agency to replace photos of famous locations around the world with photos containing clothing made by their company on Wikipedia. Because Wiki sources often come up at the top of the page when a certain location is searched, it seemed as though they were working together and reinforced their position at the top of the ladder when it comes to outdoor brands. Read more about the incident here.

North Face is the perfect example of a failed attempt at a marketing stunt. They didn’t plan or think through the outcome of their campaign but instead took advantage of the trust of their audience. Instead of keeping them in mind, they were deceitful and therefore lost credibility in the eyes off their customer. Not only did they lose the support of customers, but they also got called out publicly on Twitter by Wikipedia, which isn’t exactly what we meant by spreading the word about your brand! Some people consider any publicity as good publicity, but loss of consumer trust and confidence is often a direct path to loss of business for your brand.

The Ugly: IHob (it’s what’s on the inside that counts).

In June of 2018, IHOP announced over twitter that they were flipping the ‘P’ around and changing their name to IHOB. They didn’t tell their viewers right away what the change stood for and kept them waiting for the reveal. After announcing that the ‘B’ stood for burgers, social media blew up in conversation. Read more about the campaign here.

Although it may seem like the idea was messy because of the negative comments about the name change, the campaign itself creative huge benefits for the sales of the company. IHOP’s burger sales quadrupled after the name change and the company also saw a 0.7 percent increase in sales for quarter two.

The success we saw from this campaign came from two things. The first was the fact that they began with research. They noticed that their lunch and dinner sales were down, and they had a solution to fix that. The second element that added to their success was the fact that they built suspense. Instead of explaining exactly what their intentions were, they knew their audience would produce more buzz if they left it a surprise. They took a risk, and in the end it got the IHOP name back into the mouths of not only their customers, but nearly every person on social media.

What we can learn as marketers

As marketers with new projects being assigned daily, we must be ready to learn from what others have attempted, whether their outcome was a success or not. From these campaigns we see the importance of keeping consistency within your brand, being honest when delivering content to your audience, and that even taking a risk can benefit your campaign.

As a marketing agency, DAY Vision realizes that the most important element to realize overall though is that we are all human. Go into each project with this mindset and you will soon realize you know exactly what you need to do to reach your audience. Think like them! How would you like to be treated and approached with a campaign? Don’t treat anything as a salesperson who is trying to make money or sell an idea. Part of being human is having opinions and not being afraid to voice them when it comes to creating a campaign. The audience will appreciate hearing a personality attached to a brand. The most important element though is to make sure you put the work into whatever it is you are campaigning. This sense of realness is what will provide a strong connection between you and your audience.

Written by Jessette Long, 2019 Communications Intern

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