7 Best Marketing Campaigns that Shaped Marketing as You Know It Today

Written by Irakli Beselidze - May 8, 2015

Doing your job in a great way requires inspiration. Be you a newbie having no idea about the way marketing works or a savvy marketing expert who follows all the trends and uses various tools for implementing successful marketing strategies, you sometimes need to look at examples of creative and innovative marketing activities done by other companies. Why? Because after that new ideas come to your mind, you become more confident and ready to experiment, get more chances to convince your buyers or executives of taking more risks and developing new strategies with the help of new communication tools, and in the end make your marketing more efficient.

Of course, now there’s no problem in finding inspiring examples of companies that changed the rules of the game because information can be easily found in the Internet. If you’re too busy with reaching challenging marketing goals but still want to get inspiration and use it in your marketing today, read these 7 great examples of marketing campaigns that changed marketing.

1. Viral Marketing.

Product: The theme park The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando

Budget: $ 0

Result: 350,000,000 contacts in 24 hours

In 2007 when no one heard about the term “viral marketing” yet, the Universal Studios made a decision to build a theme park The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (valued at $ 1 billion) in Orlando.

The company was also ready to spend many million dollars on advertising campaign but Cindy Gordon, the vise-president of New Media Marketing, refused to use a traditional strategy. Recognizing the power of millions of Harry Potter fans around the world, they selected just 7 (!) credible bloggers and Potter fanatics and organized a secret webcast for them disclosing information about the future park.

After getting unique information, bloggers wrote articles about the park, and their readers shared posts with friends. Traditional media also promoted the news. As a result, in 24 hours after a secret talk all citizens of North America were talking about a new park provided that no money was spent on promotion.

What you can learn: it’s not necessarily needed to spend millions of dollars to spread your marketing message among people.

2. Using Big Data.

Product: The online retailer Target

Budget: Unknown

Result: Sales increase by 60%

The pioneers of using big data for marketing were online retailers who have the unique opportunity to analyze all data related to buyers’ behavior.

Specifically, an online store Target was put in a false position because they sent a mass mailing message promoting goods for pregnant to a schoolgirl. Feeling indignant at the irrelevant offer, her father filed a complaint to the company office but in a few days it became known that the girl was really pregnant! Thanks to analyzing big data, Target got to know about this fact earlier than the girl’s father.

What you can learn: studying and analyzing buyers’ behavior helps forecast their future behavior and needs.

3. Content Marketing for B2B.

Product: Hubspot software

Budget: Unknown

Result: 50,000 highly qualified leads monthly

Hubspot is an IT company developing software for marketing automation. Its clients are heads of marketing departments and top managers who influence the decision to allocate marketing budget.

Problem: how to make creative marketers implement a software program for marketing automation?

All IT companies that existed before Hubspot (especially B2B oriented) were considered to be boring and their marketing – a costly and thankless job, that’s why all sales efforts were made by sales departments. Hubspot decided to show on their own example how to efficiently use software for marketing automation.

They introduced a new term – “inbound marketing”. In contrast to traditional marketing instruments aimed at interrupting people with marketing ads, inbound marketing attracts target audience by providing users with interesting, useful and valuable content. The company hired a cool team of copywriters creating high quality content and lead-generating e-books for their site. The Hubspot’s editorial staff focused on developing educational materials for marketers and top managers that helped them solve specific problems related to online marketing.

What you can learn: owing to Internet, Hubspot discovered new aspects of content marketing making it possible to influence the buying decision in B2B sphere.

4. Barak Obama presidential campaign, 2008.  

Product: A little-known African American senator

Budget: $500 mln. (money raised in small donations)

Result: the 44th President of the United States

At the beginning of 2007 only 10% of the US population knew or heard about Barak Obama. He had neither financial means, no sponsors of great influence, so he took a risk and tried to use a completely new marketing tools – online fundraising, e-mail marketing, social media, content generated by election staffers and ordinary users, and volunteers teamwork.

The risk completely paid off. A fantastic and novel budget of $500 mln. was gathered thanks to ordinary people’s donations. Hundreds of inspired volunteers assured hundreds of thousands of ambivalent voters to vote for their candidate. And the most important thing – Barak Obama won the election and became the first African American President of the United States.

What you can learn: take risks and try innovative approaches and tools instead of following traditional techniques.

5. Newsjacking.  

Product: TIO, an insurance company in Australia

Budget: $10 (cost of a certificate of insurance)

Result: 5,000 publications on different media

In January 2012 the President Barak Obama was going to visit Australia. This event was covered by the local mass media. The insurance company TIO decided to use this information wave for promoting their own brand. They prepared a special free certificate of insurance for Barak Obama and his family under which the company undertook the responsibility to pay $50,000 in case of a crocodiles’ attack. They published a blog post with this offer right at the moment the President’s aircraft made a safe landing in Australia. The company hoped reporters would like to get any additional information regarding the arrival of the prominent public official at the green continent, and they appeared to be right. Notwithstanding the absurdity of an offer, the majority of reporters found it quite interesting and wrote about this offer in their newspapers and magazines.

What you can learn: The case shows how the knowledge of laws of spreading information and a prompt reaction create an opportunity for getting 5,000 mentions in mass media for free.

6. Referral Marketing.

Product: WriteThatName (now Evercontact) – an application for automatic contacts update

Budget: $0

Result: 10,000 new users of the service

Though this case is not so prominent in terms of a front-line activity and scale, it’s quite interesting in terms of using referral marketing tools. After the registration in the service, customers can use a premium package (that actually costs $35 per year) for free but in return they need to play the game and collect points. 2 points are given for posts in Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn, 3 points – for leaving a feedback on Google Apps and participating in a research, and 10 points – for inviting a friend via e-mail, mentioning a service on your blog and adding a service’s link at the end of the e-mail you send somebody.

According to Brad Patterson, the community manager of WriteThatName, this program helps to significantly increase the number of users. For example, WriteThatName ranks №5 (out of 400 applications) by the number of feedbacks left on Google Play. Though only 1 out of 10 users takes part in the program and brings approximately 5 new clients, the WriteThatName application managed to attract 10,000 new users only thanks to the referral marketing!

What you can learn: thinking outside of the box and using new technologies helps companies succeed.

7. User-Generated Content Marketing.

Product: Ford Fiesta

Budget: $50,000 (the rental cost of 100 cars for 6 months)

Result: 6,000 sold cars Ford Fiesta

What do you usually do to make the right car-buying decision? Of course, you’re looking for car owners’ testimonials. Ford decided to use this buyers’ characteristic feature, and in 2009 they launched a campaign providing reliable and expert clients with 100 new hatchbacks Ford Fiesta for half a year. In return, the clients promised to participate in monthly test runs and regularly publish posts about the car on blogs, social media, as well as upload videos to YouTube.

This exchange enabled getting additional 50,000 content items, 6.2 mln. views on YouTube and 40 mln. tweets. Apart from this, 6,000 people made an upfront payment for cars.

What you can learn: your buyers can help you generate content for free and spread it over the Internet.

We’ve selected different companies having various products and using different communication tools to show you how they change the approach to marketing communications. Do you have your own examples of companies that changed marketing? Share them in the comments section.


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