Based on the simple insight that March Madness has always been highly unpredictable, a new version of the online tournament bracket was created that invited fans to take advice on their bracket picks for each game from six-year-olds who knew nothing about basketball (and therefore had about the same odds of predicting winners as diehard fans).
As AT&T is already a major sponsor of the NCAA college basketball tournament, BBDO was able to turn the brand’s voice into a social experience for college basketball fans. (This content was actually the predecessor to the “It’s Not Complicated” campaign.)
How did participation fuel the campaign?
Asking college basketball fans to use AT&T’s bracket to fill out their picks for the tournament was an interesting request, but the payoff came back to users in content. The “expert panels” of six-year-olds that aired on TV and online during the games themselves surely fueled engagement as well.
Why did it work as a social campaign?
Since passionate college basketball fans were already very likely to have filled out brackets for at least one March Madness pool, asking them to fill out another based on insights from six-year-olds probably came as a welcome relief - and a shareable experience they’d be glad to pass on to fellow fanatics. Interacting with fans before and during the tournament rather than merely sponsoring the events themselves made the campaign relatable and social. It was a simple idea, but it worked perfectly for this specific audience and time frame.
Why Didn’t The Spots Garner The Attention They Deserved?
In an almost unavoidable way, the odds were always stacked against these EPT spots. Pregnancy and its implications are obviously a touchy subject, and there was a fair amount of “mommy blogger” backlash immediately upon their release. EPT was accused of taking pregnancy too lightly, though that’s exactly what I love about these spots— they simmer the unavoidable wave of emotions going through a woman’s mind in the moments before she sees her test results down to a few well-delivered seconds. And quite frankly, women are usually feeling one of two ways about the possibility of a pregnancy, so why not speak to both of those audiences while showcasing your product’s reliability? Regardless, the US will always be a difficult place to discuss even the mere possibility of unwanted pregnancies. Even with a vague voiceover, there was bound to be socially conservative backlash.
What Could The Agency Have Done Differently?
I found it extremely difficult to even dig up the TV spots themselves online for quite some time, which is likely evidence of EPT’s quick pull of this content— or perhaps they had no desire to engage further than an awareness-raising / product promise reinforcement-type national TV spot. Whatever the reason, these spots (harmless as they are) might’ve been better suited to online commercials, be they Hulu ads or 5-second YouTube prequels (the copy could’ve easily been cut down to fit, and the tagline dropped to add drama to the experience of watching a commercial that short on YouTube). With such a perfect storytelling opportunity and clear brand promise (especially in a pharma product), EPT missed a lot of smaller digital opportunities to connect with their audience. It must be tricky to market around a polarizing product, but there are non-invasive ways to offer help and guidance for women on both sides of the pregnancy spectrum via the EPT website, and Facebook engagement asking moms to share their exciting “holy shit I’m pregnant” stories via video booth confessions— as well as anonymous confession booth stories citing pregnancy panic. The mommy blogging community could also have been invited into the conversation directly as a method of coping with the backlash. Regardless of how conservatively EPT might want to broach the issue, they still approved a little zinger of a campaign, and they definitely could have spoken to a vast majority of sexually active women within the digital realm by retaining that tone.
Grey Poupon’s “Society of Good Taste” stands out in my mind as a highly successful digital campaign mainly because it so perfectly suits the brand - one that, quite frankly, I had not previously considered in need of a digital presence. Rather than glomming on to the typical social media presence most CPGs bore me to death with, Grey Poupon now has current voice on social media that matches its original (eternally famous) TV commercials and brand identity. The most important lesson I’ve taken away from studying this campaign is that brands that pre-date digital don’t have to strain to fit inside a world of advertising and content that might feel foreign to them - they instead have an opportunity to tell their stories through a new and exciting lens. (Additionally: excluding the aspirationally highbrow from a society of any kind - especially by judging their Facebook content - is a brilliant way to solidify brand loyalty. And to piss people off just the right amount.)
In this vid, Dutch model Saskia De Brauw showcases an array of Chanel nail polishes via sign language.
Genius idea, great quotes - and yet, it was a surprisingly dull film. Lost my interest almost immediately. Tighter shots on the hands, a clearer color focus and fewer quotes (or splitting each up into extremely short videos) would’ve kept me invested.
Part two of the Miss Dior Cherie perfume post… the second commercial, released in 2011, stars Natalie Portman (queen of the petite / girlish / sweet movie stars) and features an extremely similar love story. It again feels Parisian and sexy in a feminine way - however, this commercial seems forced, obvious and awkward to me. Why does Portman disappear into a “Black Swan” reference at one point near the commercial’s end? Why is the romance hard to watch? The slightly icky feelings I have after watching it are not uncommon for me in commercial consumption, and I struggle to understand exactly why I’m having them at any given point. There’s nothing particularly offensive about the commercial, I just have the distinct impression that no one was trying very hard in storyboarding or concepting. It feels as though they’re relying entirely on Paris and Natalie Portman as concepts to carry them through the sale of a brand as a lifestyle - which I’m just not buying. The 2008 Cherie commercial felt free, breezy and realistic - I’ve had days wherein the whole world looks like Paris to me, and I could positively float on air. Portman’s commercial feels like a bodice-ripping paperback’s opening scene. I want to believe the story if I’m going to purchase an absurdly-priced designer perfume, and after watching this, I’m just left feeling uncomfortable.
This is part one of a two-part post… I’ve become preoccupied with the Miss Dior Cherie perfume commercials lately. This first commercial, directed by Sophia Coppola and released in 2008, was perfectly flirty, playful and evocative of a timeless girlish sensibility. I wanted to rush out and purchase the perfume in hopes that it would turn my life into a simple, beautiful Coppola short. It’s a neat little call to action, leaving those young women who are in a position to purchase a luxury item feeling as though they have no option but to snap up the scent that will set their lives - especially their love lives - straight. The commercial sells sex, certainly - but to young women of a certain sensibility in particular. It’s sweetly passionate, and extremely well-executed.
It’s just occurred to me that I’ve written about a TV spot almost every week since I began keeping this blog. At first I was upset with myself, thinking I’d been lazy or uncreative in my approach, but I’ve since realized that it’s the commercials I see most frequently and that are the most aggressively marketed (or, in the case of something like the Egyptian Panda Cheese spots, aggressively gone viral) that I want to write about, and these are usually TV commercials. I am always extra impressed when a made-for-TV commercial makes a positive, lasting impression on me - and that demands a few moments of my time spent writing about exactly why I believe it’s sticking with me. The lesson should outlive the commercial.
Bing’s Wiz Khalifa commercial is surprisingly sweet. Given that it’s a portrait of a prominent rap artist, I was pleased to discover the search engine gave me those warm fuzzy feelings that Googling an artist I admire often does. The explanation of the connection between an artist and his fans that can be found on Bing’s search engine made me feel that Bing might somehow (however fleetingly) be a more effective research tool than Google, which is impressive - and the next time I can’t quite find something I’m looking for, I’ll think of Bing. They’re almost putting up an impressive fight against Google in the emotional manipulation department, as far as commercials go. Well played.