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Wax Marketing Blog

3 Unconventional Marketing Campaigns That Worked

From a hot new band, to a boring car company, to every GenZ’s favorite social network, these unconventional marketing campaigns stood out from the crowd. 

Life is too short to stay in your comfort zone. That’s especially true of marketing campaigns. Not every campaign can be an innovative stroke of genius. But neither can every campaign follow the traditional general format. A well-timed unconventional marketing campaign can make a lasting impression and generate a great deal of buzz around your brand. Here are some of the most interesting unconventional marketing campaigns we’ve seen recently. 

Marketing Campaign #1 – Subaru, Share the Love 

Try to find the car in this supposed car commercial.

And it’s not because Subaru doesn’t want to show off their cars – they won five prestigious awards in 2017. The Japanese car manufacturer’s recent “Share the Love” marketing campaign is part of a large scale US marketing outreach that accounts for 60% of the brand’s sales budget. Surely, a 60 second spot for a car that doesn’t even give a viewer a look at the car they’re trying to sell won’t work very well, right? It’s actually precisely what separated Subaru marketing campaigns from their lackluster competitors. Demand for cars has slowed in recent years, but Subaru’s unconventional marketing has been a major factor in its sales boom spanning back nearly 70 months of consecutive growth.

Why did it work?

Subaru has been targeting a liberal, mostly coastal audience for decades now. Words like “love,” “inclusion,” and images of adorable subjects like children and dogs tug at the heartstrings. The car industry is filled with monotony and it’s difficult to distinguish any one automaker’s ads from another’s. There are lots of sounds of engines revving and hairpin turns through mountain highways. We get it. Everyone’s got sleek designs and a cool logo. But can you remember any car ad that made you feel an emotion besides boredom? Generating an emotional response makes viewers associate positive feelings with Subaru. It helps them think more positively of the brand when it comes time to purchase a vehicle.

When would a similar campaign be appropriate?

Any time an industry is cluttered it’s a good idea to take another angle. Subaru proved the radical idea of ditching the product entirely is an effective way to stand out. Are you’re struggling to figure out what makes your product unique? Turn your attention to what makes your target audience unique and create new messaging from there.

 

Marketing Campaign #2 – Snapchat, Spectacles

Snapchat has made it a very exclusive privilege to use one of its new features. The photo-messaging social media app has made its first foray into technology of its own with camera-equipped sunglasses called Spectacles. Spectacles are only available through distribution carts which appear for a fleeting amount of time before disappearing—mirroring the app itself. Drumming up excitement through scarcity has worked, and it shows. Some Snapchatters are eager to pay a pretty penny for the glasses through resale sites like eBay, to the tune of about $250, roughly double the retail price.

Why did it work?

People love having access to new products, especially when it puts them in a posh group. Unlike Apple, whose new releases are met with roaring demand the second they hit the market, Snapchat has kept supply artificially low and distributed it in exciting ways. The location of pop-up vendors is announced on the app’s new SnapMap just hours before they appear, which generates organic social sharing. There’s a sense of urgency to finding the Spectacles, and it all occurs among the target audience.

When would a similar campaign be appropriate?

Sometimes it’s important to make people feel left out. There’s a certain randomness to the Spectacles campaign that has kept it from being perceived as an elitist privilege, and demand for the product is sky high. If you’re rolling out a new product, a great way to generate buzz is by letting a small subset of the market tell other potential customers how great it is. The hype surrounding a new product can build excitement for an entire brand. It’s important to note that Snapchat was set up to succeed at building organic buzz through their app structure, so if you’re thinking of trying a similar strategy, make sure all your points of communication (information gathering, sharing, referrals) are well aligned.

 

Marketing Campaign #3 – Arcade Fire, Everything Now

The Grammy award winning rock band unveiled an extensive campaign to accompany the release of their fifth studio album, Everything Now. Stunts included demanding an absurd array of accommodations before their performance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert . They also parodied a ridiculed clothing line by the Jenner sisters with t-shirts of their own and even sold special edition fidget spinners for a hefty sum of $109. (By the way, the spinners sold out.)

These antics and others played into the thesis of Everything Now, an album that satirizes the materialistic and instant-gratification-seeking nature of modern culture. The album debuted at #1 on the US charts, and the band is currently on a 49-date, sold-out world tour.

Why did it work?

Arcade Fire’s fan base is used to hearing the band making grand statements and sharp critiques through their music. The products of the phony Everything Now Corp. added a layer of depth to what their fans were accustomed to seeing and hearing from the band. Some found it annoying, but they were still talking about it. It generated buzz around the album for new listeners, and whetted the palate of loyal followers who were waiting in anticipation of the band’s first project since 2013. On the title track, lead singer Win Butler chants “I need it/I want it/Can’t live without it.” Creative and deliberate, the campaign was an album preview that became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fans lapped up every bit of Everything Now merchandise, no matter how absurdist it became. The campaign reflected the content of the album to a tee and showed just how far reaching our collective cravings are.

When would a similar campaign be appropriate?

An alternate take on Arcade Fire’s approach would well suit a retail product release. Amusing content relevant to the product could keep your audience aware of the impending release of a product and prepare them for the big reveal. It’s tough to figure out how much hype is too much—and a band as successful as Arcade Fire has a great deal of leeway—but it’s a great way to keep people invested in the story behind a product.

Unconventional marketing tactics are a great change of pace from the same tired campaigns that people are used to seeing. At some point, everyone tunes out marketing when it ceases to be exciting. Fresh ideas like these all succeeded at driving demand, and were well worth the risk. People are receptive to fun ideas that seem genuine. Don’t force something different solely for the sake of being different. But if you have an inventive idea, don’t be afraid to run with it.

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