Anyone over a certain age will recall AT&T’s 1987 “Reach out and touch someone” campaign. Ah, yes, back in the days when phones were connected to land, and our innocence didn’t allow a phrase like that to be an instant PR threat for companies of all sizes.
It’s one thing to read about a successful ad campaign. Another to see it. But it’s quite something to touch it. As Fearless Girl proudly posed with thousands of admirers (including a certain writer), she claimed the mantel of first place, named by Adweek as the best campaign of 2017, pummeling far more expensive efforts. Not only did this marketing get conversations going, it challenged convention. More specifically, the bull.
Will there be more Fearless Girls this year? My hunch is yes. Marketing and PR campaigns always evolve with the tools of our craft and the expectations of consumers. Now, the smartest brands are realizing they might literally have to produce tangible, physical expressions of creativity and brand expression. This shift is taking experiential marketing and the customer experience to all new levels. The built-in side effect is thoroughly contemporary. The synchronicity of interacting with a physical object that is then captured digitally to become a viral experience is the perfect marriage of analog and digital. Propelled by the power of hashtags, the right ground campaign has the power to gain notoriety overnight. Viral visibility doesn’t seem like such a stretch anymore.
So, what has changed since 1989 when the bull was dropped in the dark of night by an artist, a good 28 years before the brave little bronze girl faced him down? Our connectivity, of course. What will never change, though, is the explosion of human emotion when the right message strikes a chord.
Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis turned January diet advertising on its ear with a series of public “scales” that measured a woman’s accomplishments, not weight. Among other things, the brand self-reported a 33% increase in positive brand perception and spread a delightful case of self-esteem to women across the digital globe. Cause-marketing campaigns commonly use ground tactics to evoke action and elevate consciousness.
Maker’s Mark & One Warm Coat “Give Cozy, #GetCozy” Truck Tour was not only effective in handing out 20,000 free coats to those in need, but according to Brandwatch, it resulted in 26.41 million impressions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, resulting in 40,000 new followers for Maker’s Mark. That visitors to their traveling food truck never saw the product was no matter. When people are confronted with an experience that hammers home a strong, positive message, it transcends the average campaign, and increases brand sentiment.
Fearless Girl was worth $7.4 million in marketing exposure within 51 days, as reported by Bloomberg. And in terms of emotional, global resonance, one need only look at the joyful faces of people mobbing it down in the morally chilly financial district to see the true value.
It may have been lightning in a bottle, but the positivity emanating from that girl’s smile might inspire a whole generation of gutsy, experiential campaigns that change the way we think.