Success Comes In Many Forms
With 30 seconds of air time costing a whopping $6.5 million USD on average in 2022, the Super Bowl ads have become an annual exhibition in which the biggest companies in the world compete for the public’s attention. Since 1989, each year USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter has unofficially proclaimed the ‘winning’ commercial. Sitting atop their top 10 this year was Rocket Homes’ Barbie commercial, in which Anna Kendrick parodies the insanity of the current housing market using Barbie and He-Man figures.
Some appreciated the commercial’s sense of humour, the kitsch aesthetic, and the nostalgia targeted at Millennials. Others found the glib tone about a depressing truth regarding homebuying to be disrespectful.
WJ’s Creative Director, Johnny Talisman, explains how campaigns don’t necessarily need to be universally beloved to be considered a success: “People will interpret things in different ways, no matter what – you can’t stop that from happening. And sometimes, due to things way beyond your control, campaigns become something you never anticipated. This isn’t a negative. Even if you end up in a different place than where you predicted, that doesn’t indicate a failure. In fact, sometimes it makes for one of your greatest successes.”
At WJ, we like to look at things critically and find opportunity in every situation. Today, some of our team share their thoughts on unconventional campaigns – either by design or by unintended results.
Spotify – Wrapped
Is it worth owning a flaw in your product to speak directly to your audience?
Analytics – that is, the method of gathering detailed facts about a customer base through examining their ostensibly private information – is a new facet to marketing, and it’s not without controversy. Some people find it at best invasive, while others equate it to a company outright spying on its consumers. Why then, did Spotify decide to base its annual Wrapped campaign around gleefully sharing the information they ‘stole’ from their customers?
WJ’s Social Media Manager, Kira Sideroff says, “Spotify is running with it, having fun. The information they share is all humorous – they ask why someone would stream ‘Sorry’ 46 times on Valentine’s Day, or highlight the strangest playlist titles they encounter.” She goes on: “By outright admitting that they’re tracking their users every behaviour in the application, Spotify is able to invert that fear and turn it into a positive. Overall, it makes Spotify’s brand feel more human and authentic – like, ‘Yes, we’re looking at you, but we’re not being creepy with it.’”
Wonderbra – Ongoing
What if you offend some people to speak meaningfully to others?
A campaign doesn’t need words or headlines to be effective. As a Graphic Designer at WJ, Yasmine Valim has a keen sense of image. She thinks Wonderbra’s largely text-free campaigns are a perfect example of how visuals alone can drive advertising in the 21st century. “These ads say so much without actually saying anything at all,” Yasmine explains, “They grab attention, they’re humorous, sometimes they make the audience connect the dots for themselves.”
That comes with some controversy – namely that the ads objectify and sexualize women. “But that’s what’s brilliant about the campaign,” says Yasmine, “Wonderbra are dropping all the pretension away and saying, ‘This is really what you want our product for.’ We know it, you know it – let’s be truthful. It’s direct, it’s honest, and people appreciate that.”
Metro Trains Melbourne – Dumb Ways To Die
Another of WJ’s Graphic Designers, Logan Anderson tells the strange tale of Dumb Ways To Die, which began life as a safety advertisement for Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia. “Metro Trains wanted to do something different from the standard dry stats-based warning,” Logan explains. “So the team came up with a singing, dancing team of animated beans that invariably end up getting horribly killed in some cartoonish way.”
Dumb Ways To Die – ironically enough – then proceeded to catch fire. Becoming one of the earliest examples of a YouTube viral video in 2012, it racked up millions of views that saw the campaign spiral rapidly outwards from its original framework. Merchandise flew off the shelves, videogames and apps were developed, and the entire franchise ended up ultimately being sold to a private company for $2.25mil AUD in 2021.
Not a bad little return for something that was never meant to be seen outside of Melbourne.
“But,” asks Logan, “Was the campaign successful? It generated millions of dollars for Metro Trains Melbourne Metro, for sure – but that was never the campaign’s intention. It was created to stop people from getting hurt on the subway, and that message fell quickly by the wayside. So, should Dumb Ways To Die technically be classed as a failure of advertising? Or does the incidental financial windfall make up for that?”
The Right Campaign For You
If your company is looking to announce itself in a new way, reach new audiences, or simply increase its presence, William Joseph can deliver the kind of campaigns you need to achieve your goals, whatever the format, whatever the budget – that, we can guarantee.
What we can’t guarantee, of course, is that you’ll accidentally make millions of dollars due to a YouTube video going viral…
But who knows? There’s only one way to find out.