We’ve all been watching examples of great brand efforts that
resulted in a lot of sharing and discussion of brand content. That is, content that gets shared or passed
around (like the first Man Your Man Could Smell Like or the Darth Vader VW
spot) or talked about a lot (like Old Spice WolfDog efforts or the recent Dove
work). We all get excited about the idea of this kind of content for the right
- Friend to friend sharing is a much more efficient way for
your content to get reach. You don’t have to pay for the media
- Friend to friend sharing comes with an implied endorsement,
so it’s more likely to be received well
- Word of mouth drives interest in the brand
- It’s generally done digitally, so you can often see the data
- And, when it’s digital, it can live pretty much forever in
the Google search results (for better or worse).
- Ultimately, it just makes your paid media work harder
A lot of the examples we see seem like viral magic, an
alchemic reaction cooked up by a lucky wizard. But, increasingly, we’re seeing
examples that are pre-planned and pre-programmed for sharing; creative efforts
that were specifically designed and built for sharing, which is different than
how we typically approach it. We generally plan a great TV idea, then seek
something else – “surround”, social content, magic influencer dust – that gets
our stuff shared. In the worst cases, we
try to engineer the sharing of a tv spot, something that is, by almost all
definitions, content for a passive audience. It’s doomed to fail. Except for
some edge cases, nobody cares enough about your tv ad to share it with their
So, how do you design creative and execution specifically for
sharing? No one has the secret, but the two examples below characterize the best
of what I’m seeing when brands try to generate a lot of sharing (vs. simple
awareness) and discussion.
You can almost hear the brief on this one. “the Daily Twist
worked great; we’ve got 33 million fans. How do we get people – young people -
talking about our product, preferably online?” Or, put more simply: Get as many
people as possible creating content about our brand: sharing it, talking about,
reacting to it, etc. From the very conception, this was an idea that was about
social sharing and discussion as much as it was about the product and brand.
First: What is it that they created? Is it an ad? A music
video? A song? A commercial? Social Object? All of the above?
Second: the idea was open ended and designed for a consumer
response – “What would happen if *you* were given an oreo?” It almost
demands the consumer think about it and perhaps respond.
Third: The execution was truly talkable. Remarkable, even.
- Owl City is either loved or loathed, depending on who you
are. Hipsters in Brooklyn probably moaned, but the tweens and young adults
cheered. They all did it on social media.
- The song is, depending on your perspective, either awesome or
sacharine. No middle ground. Lots of debate.
- The idea of top of the pops singer writing a love song to a
brand? Sellout! Savvy! Debatable.
- Even the animation was discussable
Fourth: The rollout was designed for sharing:
- Stunt media buy: They launched it as a 90 during madmen, when
all the ad nerds were watching, knowing it would generate discussion. Lots to
- A 90! Who does those?
- Visually, it was SO different from the show, it was
noteworthy just by juxtaposition
- They did a 90 so the ad skippers would HAVE to see it and go back (“What was
- They rolled it out via their FB page (33 mm fans)
- They had OwlCity tweet it to his fans (>1M) and Twitter
- They supported it with lots of PR and events (again, to get
the kids talking)
In hindsight, it’s really, really clear that their goal was
to do something remarkable, in a remarkable way so that people would talk
about, giving extra reach to their efforts. TV was just the stimulus to get the
Sharing as part of a Collaborative project
REI recently launched their 1440 project with the goal of
capturing 24 hours of people doing what they loved in nature (1440 minutes).
Pictures for every minute of the day. It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve
seen. For REI, “sharing” was a way to generate both incremental reach (through
the shared content) but also a way to create a marketing asset. For every picture contributed, REI asked the
contributor to share it to *their* networks. And, each image became part
of the overall collection, available for all future visitors. Plus, this effort
resulted in at least 1440 pieces of content that could get shared out to REI’s
network over the course of the year, and presumably each of those 1440+ images
were good enough that when published to REI’s feed, the fans/followers would
then like/retweet or favorite the images out
to their network.
But, to me, the best part of this project is that it comes
right from their values – celebrate being out in nature – and their core
purpose as a coop: A collective effort to help their members have their own
kind of experience, to inspire and celebrate others who are doing the same. This
whole project demonstrates their values perfectly.