Oreo "Daily Twist" Campaign

In June 2012, Mondelez began a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Oreo cookies with a campaign that made the cookie the medium for of-the-moment cultural commentary and made the brand and its agency standard bearers for real-time, conversational, culture-jacking marketing.

The brand, with agencies DraftFCB, 360i, Weber Shandwick, and MediaVest, created a social campaign based on a series of daily posts to the brand’s 27 million (now 33 million) Facebook fans. The campaign kicked off June 25 with a doozy--a rainbow-hued Oreo to celebrate Gay Pride month (future posts would pay tribute to the Mars Rover Landing, the Olympics, Gangnam Style, and Elvis week).

Oreo "Daily Twist" Campaign

The campaign represents the shift to real-time marketing--the notion of an always-on creative team or brand newsroom, with the brand participating in the events of the day and consumers’ existing dialogue about them (ideally in a brand-relevant way). Oreo wasn’t the first brand to create a real-time campaign, but with the Gay Pride splash, followed by several other clever, current posts, it gained massive profile. And then the Super Bowl came around . . .

Oreo Super Bowl Blackout Tweet

. . . during which Oreo posted a seemingly off-the-cuff tweet about the awkward post-half-time blackout. And with that, the brand became the poster child for the brands-as-publishers movement.
According to 360i, "Dunk in the Dark" was shared on Twitter and Facebook more than 20,000 times and garnered 525 million earned media impressions--five times the number of people who watched the game.

Again, Oreo didn’t invent this marketing discipline. And, arguably, other brands have executed in more compelling ways (see BMW’s quick response to a 4-year-old’s vision of a dream car). But Oreo gets due credit for building a real-time marketing discipline and when the biggest media opportunity in the world came along, making it look easy.

Ragu "Long Day of Childhood" Campaign

Sauce standby Ragu and agency Barton F. Graf 9000 proved that you don’t need a sexy brand to create a must-watch ad and a huge earned media coup. The campaign was based on the premise that your childhood years aren’t always idyllic and, with the help of a countrified jingle, depicted a range of scenarios where kids encountered tough times and were comforted by a spaghetti dinner. The marquee spot featured a kid walking in on his parents at that most inopportune moment ("Parents in bed and it’s just 8 o’clock," the song warns). The ad was picked up by everyone from Jimmy Fallon to the the curtain rustlers who make a big deal about joking about kids seeing their parents going at it.

Metro Trains "Dumb Ways To Die"

If there was a surprise mega-hit of the year in advertising, it was this web film for Metro Trains of Melbourne, Australia, from McCann Melbourne. The video turned an insanely catchy song and cheerful animation about all of the creative means of expiring into one of the year’s biggest viral sensations.
Read about the making of the spot here.

Intel "The Beauty Inside"

In 2011, Intel and Toshiba teamed up for an experiment in social filmmaking with the thriller “Inside,” starring Emmy Rossum and directed by DJ Caruso.
Last year, the marketers, and agency Pereira & O’Dell built on the social film idea with “The Beauty Inside,” an episodic web film starring Topher Grace and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The film, directed by Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), revolved around a character (Grace) who woke up each day as someone new, a story that allowed lots of room for social participation--viewers could audition for a part via webcam and, of course, spread word through their social circles. The film was well reviewed and has earned a handful of Gold nods at previous shows.

Nike "Jogger"

Most definitely not an official Olympics sponsor, Nike ambushed the games with a campaign that called out greatness in athletes from Londons around the world. A highlight was this pared down spot featuring one Nathan Sorrell of London, Ohio. The spot, from Wieden + Kennedy Portland and director Lance Acord, consists of one shot of the 200-pound 12-year-old running down a lonely road and a voice-over about the nature of greatness. It expertly served up Nike’s Just Do It essence and the Olympic spirit to everyone.

Coca-Cola "Small World Machines"

Coca-Cola has made its vending machines the center of creative, happiness-generating projects before, but this year’s “Small World Machines” had perhaps a more touching, and ambitious purpose--to bring just a measure of peace to the citizens of India and Pakistan.

As we reported, the "Small World Machines," created by Coke and Leo Burnett, were equipped with full-length webcams that allowed people in front of the machine to see each other and interact in real time. “We used special active-shutter 3-D technology that projected a streaming feed onto glass while filming through that glass at the same time,” Leo Burnett Executive Creative Director Jon Wyville told us. “This allowed people to make direct eye contact and touch hands.”

The project has generated a healthy buzz and, of course, debate--sample comments on our post on the initiative ran from “I think this is the best idea I have ever seen in my 60+ years from any corporation” to “I don’t know if this is the worst cultural exploitation I’ve seen in marketing, but it’s in the top five.”

Nike+ Kinect "Training"

The Nike+ Kinect training game from Microsoft XBox, Nike, and agency AKQA Nike+ is a personalized, gamified, socialized training product that combined Nike’s fitness expertise with Kinect tech. Our own Mark Wilson called it “the best exercise game yet.”

Kinect training is one of the shortlisted entries for the inaugural Innovation prize (why is this nominated for an Innovation Lion when things like Nike Fuelband and Nike+ before it competed in the Titanium and Cyber categories? Who knows. But it’ll likely win something.

SPCA, "Mini Driving Dogs"

Many campaigns have made the point that shelter dogs are as adorable, smart, and worthy of your family’s love as any other dog. But only one illustrated that point by teaching shelter dogs how to do that most human of things--drive. Agency Draftfcb New Zealand teamed with the local SPCA and its client Mini to orchestrate a crazy, ambitious plan to teach a few dogs how to pilot a specially outfitted auto.

It’s not just a fun, ambitious idea that earned huge media attention, it’s a great example of an advertiser (Mini) burnishing its own brand by lending its name and resources to a cause that matters to its customers.

Samsung Insurance "Bridge Of Life"

As Newsweek detailed in its harrowing piece, “The Suicide Epidemic,” self-harm is now the leading cause of death of people 15 to 49 throughout the developed world, surpassing all cancer and heart disease. It’s hard to believe and hard to imagine how a piece of brand content could do anything about it. And maybe Samsung’s “Bridge of Life” won’t help. But it’s a great, earnest ambition from a brand to tackle the subject. The campaign saw Samsung Life Insurance and Cheil Worldwide installing a series of lights and messages (written under the guidance of psych and suicide-prevention professionals) along Seoul’s Mapo Bridge, a site of many of the city’s suicides and suicide attempts.

Dove "Real Beauty Sketches"

You know the story of Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” by now. And that’s because you and everyone in the known world have seen it, read about it, watched a news report on it, laughed at a parody of it, or railed against it.

The campaign (read about it here) has been hailed by its creator as the most viral campaign ever with 114 million online views (the numbers have been disputed but its closest competitor, Blendec’s “Will It Blend,” took years to amass its stats, while Dove reached its eye-popping number in a few weeks).

Red Bull Stratos

As we’ve noted here, Red Bull’s mission to put a man at the edge of space and then watch him leap to earth set new standards for sheer ambition and innovation in brand content. The project, which saw Austrian skydiver and all-round extreme jumper Felix Baumgartner undertake a 128,000-foot, 800 mph free fall from a specially designed capsule wearing a specially designed suit, earned what seemed like unprecedented media coverage, while the main video of the event was viewed 30 more than million times (Read more about it here).

While it should win the top prize in Brand Content or Titanium, when it comes to awarding such a venture (one that incorporates media, design, innovation, TV, PR, content, and other disciplines), the whole notion of categories starts to seem silly.

The Ad World's Best Ideas: 12 Campaigns That Will Win At Cannes

Dumb ways to daily twist while jumping from space. These are the brand creations bound for glory at the ad world’s premier awards show.

Massively viral-earned media blockbusters, real-time culture bombs, and socially conscious gestures will feature heavily among the big winners at the International Festival of Creativity (aka the International Festival of Advertising, aka the Cannes Lions), which kicks off June 16.

It’s assured that videos like Metro Trains’s “Dumb Ways To Die” and Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” will win, and Red Bull’s gargantuan space jump project certainly should, but it’s slightly less easy to predict in which category (for award show purposes, is Red Bull Stratos media? Innovation? Titanium? Brand Content? PR? Design? Yes).

We’ve noted here before that Cannes has become a festival of categories as much as anything else. Which is fine for the event (Cannes is a business, after all, and more categories mean more entries). But categorizing ideas is less and less relevant in the real marketing world, where the premium is on developing total brand experiences and all the products, services, ads, technologies and ideas that contribute to that goal act as one.

This year, Cannes launched the “Innovation Lions," intended to “honor the technology and innovation which lead to the creative idea being possible.” A jury led by Droga5 founder David Droga will award “the most pioneering forms of technology including, but not limited to, apps, tools, programmes, hardware, products, and other radical software which have been developed to help put into practice the creative excellence in communications.”

While Cannes has certainly honored “apps, tools, and programmes” before (several years ago, the festival launched the Titanium Lion, designed to recognize the new forms of work that refused to be bound by traditional ad categories), the new Innovation Lion seems to be designed to give more recognition to the ideas that aren’t communications and to the tech platforms that underlie the communications initiatives that Cannes has traditionally cited.

While the shortlist for the Innovation Lions features boundary-pushing ad work, like IBM’s "A Boy and His Atom," a film made from atoms, it’s interesting to note that several of the finalists represent the entrepreneurial tech efforts of agencies. These are products developed not for a specific brand but as self-driven ventures. These entries include Thunderclap, the social amplification platform created out of Droga5's tech arm, DeDe and The Barbarian Group’s Cinder, an open-source "toolbox" for programming graphics, audio, video, networking, image processing, and computational geometry.

This has been one of the more interesting developments in the ad world--the emergence of the agency tech unit, whether functioning as a stand-alone company or as a department, that looks to meld tech development and the agency’s traditional strengths: human behavior and marketing.

In the slide show above, some of the other brand creativity highlights that will capture top awards at Cannes.

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