How big is too big when it comes to product launches and PR promotions?
From staged street performances to concerts equipped with beds and “sheep LED art,” it seems these seven brands wanted to make a serious impression—no matter how extravagant, strange, or downright perplexing the results. The over-the-top product promotions illustrate an important lesson for brands: a good idea in theory might not make for the most effective promo in practice.
1. Classical music, beds and ice cream star in Haggen-Dazs’ promo concert.
Ah, nothing says comfort like classical music, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and a luxury bed. Factor in hundreds of other people, all housed in a concert hall for two days, and something else entirely comes to mind. The concept behind Haagen-Dazs’ plan to promote the brand’s ‘Dulce’ flavor series seems great in theory—but super weird in practice. Just take a look:
2. Verizon’s “Network” materializes in real life, stalks random snowboarder.
In the early 2000s, it was hard to escape Verizon’s ubiquitous “Can You Hear Me Now” campaign—just the site of thick-rimmed glasses could induce endless riffs on the brand’s geek-chic mascot.
So when one unsuspecting snowboarder found himself being followed by “The Verizon guy” and “The Network,” he was naturally thrown. And we’re thrown that Verizon expanded its larger-than-life ad campaign to the real world, where people might not be as open to being followed by hundreds of cellphone technicians.
The stunt wears off quickly for the snowboarder, who looks for an out: “Dude, I’m not sure what the weight limit on this lift is so, I’m not sure you guys can go. OK, I’m just gonna, I’m gonna go now…”
3. Lotus’ eerie “Faceless People” spark conspiracy theories and confusion.
Lotus took its brand slogan, “True character in a faceless world” to the extreme when it enlisted an army of “faceless” men and women to infiltrate popular events and functions throughout Great Britain. This curious and strange marketing ploy warranted plenty of media attention—but perhaps not the sort that a brand often seeks. The move prompted conspiracy theories and commentary that the alien-like men and women were “creepy” and “weird.”
4. Samsung’s extreme (and baa-zarre) “sheep art” viral video.
Samsung enlisted sheep-herding artists “The Baa-studs” for an “Extreme Sheparding” video ithoped would go viral. The video caught large-scale images of “sheep formations” and an entire show of sheep in LED light vests making interesting movements—like replicas of Pong and the Mona Lisa (yes, you read that right).
This is all well and good, but this bizarre video left many wondering: What exactly does this have to do with Samsung? And what exactly are they selling? The final slate tries to tie it all together: “With thanks to Samsung Smart LED technology. Look at their LED TVs.”
Tying sheep herding to Samsung is a bit of a stretch—no matter how many LED lights you strap on the sheep.
5. Gnuf.com needs a new pair of shoes, bets big on “world’s greatest dice roll.”
What’s the best way to promote an online gambling site like Gnuf.com? By helicoptering two enormous steel dice to the top of a mountain in Greenland, releasing them, and letting them roll to the bottom. And of course, having users bet on the outcome.
is clever, and the video is fun to watch, but at the end of the video and after noting the measly 7,890 views, it prompts the question: how many of the enlisted resources could have been better spent on a more targeted, profound, and profitable campaign?
It’s also probably a good thing for Gnuf.com that environmentalists and gamblers don’t often overlap—it’s hard to imagine can’t the former would be thrilled by two enormous steel cubes trampling the mountain’s natural habitat.
6. Diesel’s “Be Stupid” promo relies on making smart use of dangerous objects.
Denim outfitter Diesel is no stranger to controversial ad campaigns. Scantily clad models and shock-value shtick are trademarks of Diesel’s marketing strategy, but the its 2010 messaging raised eyebrows for a different reason.
“Be stupid” was a curious, if not offensive motto for the Gen-Y brand. And from the looks of it, it was a difficult message to promote. In this promo event, Diesel had frozen a pair of jeans within an ice block and encouraged passersby to free the jeans, using various tools like ice picks, hammers, and blow torches. While the volunteers may have looked stupid (never mind the liability forms they surely had to fill out), the winner ultimately wound up being the one who was smart enough to free the jeans from their frozen chamber.
The concept for this stunt is unclear, and the messaging seems contradictory. Not to mention, there’s a cringe-worthy sequence at the end of this video wherein tweens repeat the mantra “I love stupid,” which is just creepy.
7. TNT’s elaborate “Push to Add Drama” campaign goes viral, in a big way.
Somewhere in a little town in Belgium TNT cooked up an over-the-top marketing stunt using actors to depict real-life “drama”—car chases, a gun shoot-out, a football scrimmage, and even a bikini-clad woman on a motorcycle. Some could say it’s a bit of an extreme way to bring the TV channel’s slogan (“Get Your Daily Dose of Drama”) to life.
But while TNT took a gamble with this over-the-top stunt, its marketing efforts paid off big time. This video has gone wildly viral, garnering optimal exposure since it was first released. As of this posting, the video has received more 34 million views. As TNT learned, “big” is a bet, but if it’s done well the pay-off might be well worth it.
Katie Manderfield is on the editorial staff at Group SJR (a New York-based
creative communications agency), where she writes about market research,
social media, and fashion. Before working at Group SJR, Katie worked in
media, the non-profit legal sector, and academia. A version of this story first appeared on The Researchist.