6 Exciting Digital Marketing Campaigns To Remember From 2014

Tidy Cats, Budweiser, Mercedes among the brands that made an impact on consumers.

Create Awareness

Focused on brand awareness, the most exciting digital marketing campaigns of 2014 had a few things in common: they spanned channels and provided multiple layers of entertainment, and engagement for the consumer.

The digital marketing campaigns that made an impact in 2014 stayed with viewers across channels. Viewing and engagement went both ways, as traditional TV and PR drove people to view online video, submit fan contributions, and opt in for continued connection with brands – and vice versa.

Tidy Cats Pounces On A Trend With Parody Kitten Week

Let’s face it: your brand has an advantage on the Internet if your product is in any way related to the web’s favorite topic: kittens. Purina Tidy Cats cat litter, with a history of producing parody ads, decided that Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” a week of programming centered on the world’s most ferocious creature, could use a complementary companion celebration of the world’s most cuddly.

From August 10 to 17 (the same time as Shark Week aired on TV), Tidy Cats posted a series of “Shark Week”-style videos to YouTube. “Kitten Week” shared close encounter stories dubbed “True Tails.” Hashtag #KittenWeek unified the YouTube series with the brand’s Twitter and Facebook activity, which included fan-submitted meme-style photos.

During the weeklong digital campaign produced by Resource/Ammirati, Tidy Cat grew its YouTube subscriber base 115 percent with more than 1.5 million total video views across social. More than 7,400 people joined the fun on Twitter, gaining the #KittenWeek hashtag 44 million impressions. Tidy Cat’s Twitter followers grew 11 percent during the brief campaign, and Facebook reach extended to 8 million users and 15,000 video shares.

Budweiser Puppy Love Is Super Bowl’s Top Ad, Thanks To A Marriage Of Traditional & Digital

The Super Bowl is the U.S.’s biggest annual ad spectacle, and advertisers have learned that TV ads must call users to interact with the campaign online or leave opportunity for engagement on the table. Earning the title of a top Super Bowl ad of 2014 was Budweiser for its Puppy Love ad by agency Anomaly.

According to analysis by Visible Measures, Puppy Love was the most shared of all Super Bowl campaigns, with 71,240 tweets and 1,343,726 Facebook shares, likes, comments and clicks – more than triple the Facebook and Twitter interactions of the next closest campaign. Budweiser had partnered with Google’s BrandLab for information about consumer behavior and trends around the big game.

The digital strategy executed in light of these insights involved releasing the Puppy Love ad on YouTube six days before its TV debut. At the time of this writing, Puppy Love has been viewed more than 54 million times on YouTube.

Kelly Wrather, senior manager of content marketing at Kenshoo, said it isn’t surprising Budweiser’s 2014 Super Bowl spot, Puppy Love, came out on top.

“The commercial works because it connects on an emotional level with consumers. It’s not just about a cute puppy, but the idea of the unbreakable bonds of friendship — no matter how unconventional the pairing may be,” Wrather said.

“That’s further reinforced with its clever hashtag #bestbuds,” she said. “From a creative standpoint, Puppy Love tips it hat to its predecessor, the 2013 Budweiser Super Bowl commercial about a trainer who just can’t seem to shake his old pal, the Clydesdale. With these stories, Budweiser proves that Super Bowl ads don’t have to be off-the-wall funny to resonate and be memorable.”

Aaron Kahlow, CEO and founder of Online Marketing Institute, agrees this was one to remember.

“Massive kudos to Budweiser in really mapping a content marketing calendar to YouTube, to social and to the TV spot itself,” Kahlow said. “It’s just smart. Moreover, they had the metrics on all fronts ready to rock Day One. These guys went in, eyes wide open, and really learned with Google how to create a great campaign, versus just tossing out another idea and hoping it works.”

Nutella Gets Sweet On Social Media & Influencer Marketing

Hazelnut chocolate spread Nutella turned 50 last May. The brand proved it isn’t too old to learn new tricks about content marketing and influencer outreach, engaging in digital marketing campaigns spanning Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.

In the months leading up to the company’s anniversary, Nutella teamed up with agency SapientNitro, which in seven months, created more than 500 pieces of content aimed at inspiring new ways to enjoy the sweet spread.

Additionally, an influencer program was activated by collecting fans’ stories about Nutella, pulling in 15,000 stories in two days. Celebrities, including William Shatner, were tapped to share their Nutella stories, amplifying the campaign.

In SapientNitro’s submission of the multi-platform campaign to the 2014 Shorty Awards, the agency reports 15.6 percent more online conversations and total engagement that has more than doubled. Fans and followers have increased by a whopping 518 percent.

Marriott Invites Guests To Transform The Future of Travel

In 2013, Marriott and Grey NY launched a campaign that invited travelers to submit ideas that would improve the travel experience. They launched a dedicated website, TravelBrilliantly.com, where travelers submitted innovative ideas that they felt would improve their time away from home, and in September 2014, Marriott brought the first of those ideas to life in a Chicago location: the Healthy Vending Machine.

TravelBrilliantly.com saw 2 million visits in its first 8 months. To date, the site has collected more than 20,000 idea votes.

Every voter who connected with Marriott socially or provided an email address is now part of the brand’s email and social outreach. The digital marketing campaigns included an integrated media mix of paid, social and owned channels and influencer collaboration.

Coverage on publications including Wired, Fast Company and Mashable made for a combined 160 million PR impressions, and more than 10,000 online engagements were reported by Grey NY to the Shorty Awards.

TD Canada Trust ATMs Hand Out Heart-Warming Gifts

Banks don’t have the best reputation for being empathetic entities, but TD Canada Trust balked at that stereotype in a major way when they turned their ATMs into “automated thanking machines.”

On July 25, the bank took customer appreciation to the extreme, starting a college fund for a customer’s two children, plus sending the family to Disneyland, and giving plane tickets to woman so she can visit her daughter with cancer in Trinidad.

These generous acts were compounded when the bank gave $20 to every customer in a branch, on the phone or online banking at 2 p.m. – a total of 30,000 customers who would excitedly spread the word about their bank.

The original video has more than 18 million views. TD Canada hasn’t shared how many times its hashtag #TDThanksYou was used, or its measured lift in brand sentiment, but publicizing numbers like this would probably go against the whole spirit of a campaign whose point was to make people feel good.

Mercedes Creates Brand Awareness With Multichannel Ad Assault

When luxury car maker Mercedes launched a new automobile into its line this past September, it executed a multi-channel marketing campaign, with all the assets you’d expect of a major global brand, from TV commercials to billboards.

Online, the heart of the digital campaign was “The Forgotten Road Trip,” a storytelling website that requires visitors to scroll, view animations, watch videos, and interact with the site to piece together a mystery.

A study in November measured brand awareness of four luxury automakers, and found that consumers that saw Mercedes ads were more likely to remember and interact with the car maker in the future when compared to Lexus, BMW and Audi.

Highlights from the research include: 30 percent of those who watched a Mercedes ad reported a lift in brand impressions, compared to the 26 percent industry average. And 43 percent of consumers who recalled Mercedes took an additional action, while the same was only true for 38 percent of consumers who saw an ad from another luxury auto brand in the study.

Mike Grehan, CMO and managing director at Acronym Media, says the Mercedes campaign got his attention.

“For a company noted for creating the world’s first automobile back in 1886, it’s fair to say they’ve had enough time to learn how to market one. As an instantly recognizable, world-class brand, you’d think that they would have established themselves enough globally to not have to try so hard anymore,” Grehan said. “But the fact is, much as the brand retains its luxury status and established presence in the automobile industry, the way that consumers research and buy cars, as well as the way they consume media, has changed dramatically.”

Grehan noted that the challenge that Mercedes has is not to position or reposition itself, rather to be in the right place at the right time, “no matter how cliché that sounds these days.”

And, no matter “how cool you think you are in a digital age,” Grehan said, this campaign shows that “the message and the medium still matter.” He added that “it’s good news for Mercedes to know that they won’t be dropping the 30-second spot any time soon. Although they have tested and experimented in all channels, with some good success in social media, it’s still the luxury, lifestyle broadcast ad that has the most emotional appeal.”

He concludes that this campaign proves “you still can’t beat big, glossy creativity when it comes to a luxury brand.”

What other digital marketing campaigns will you remember from 2014? Tell us in the comments.

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