What can some of the most popular advertising campaigns teach us about Customer Engagement?

Posted by Molly Shanahan

August 3, 2015

Advertising_and_customer_engagementOver the past 10 or so years, some brands have absolutely excelled in the world of advertising. But as we all know, it's not just about your ad being seen by potential customers, it's about getting them to do something off the back of it.

Whether your aim is to re-gain brand loyalty, make customers think differently or just to make someone laugh, one thing's for sure, customer engagement plays a major part in advertising. 

To help inspire you to start thinking more about customer engagement within your advertising campaigns, here are some of the brands that have got it right:

1. Cadbury - Don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd


There's so much to engage us today, that ultimately we're not really engaged with anything anymore. Cadbury soon realised that if they wanted to capture the attention of their audience, they needed to create something nobody was expecting, regardless of whether that initially seemed connected to their brand or not.

So, they approached ad agency, Fallon, with a clear brief: "Get the love back" and, rather than appealing to tradition, they decided to reinvent the idea of Cadburys in a funny and inventive advert featuring a gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins', 'In The Air Tonight'.

Retaining and reinvigorating old brand loyalties and engagements through a new identity meant that they created one of the most well known advertising campaigns of the last ten years.

Who'd have thought that a musical monkey could sell chocolate?

Lesson 1: Being different from your competitors can make all the difference when it comes to customer engagement.


2. Channel 4 - Be Mysterious


Social media and On Demand viewing mean that we never miss a trick, and that’s what we, as consumers, expect from the brands we interact with. However, customer engagement and advertising aren't always about giving customers what they want or expect, instead it can also mean turning this concept on its head for customers to really sit up and pay attention.

Channel 4 did just that with their recent advertising campaign for new TV series, 'Humans'. Instead of promoting the series like any other drama under its name, Channel 4 decided to create TV ads as though it was selling the lifelike robots featured in the show.

However, this was only one aspect of the multi-pronged approach the company used in a bid to improve ratings.

By creating a mock company, 'Persona Synthetics', Channel 4 managed to reach viewers through endless channels:

  • Instore - by installing two meter high robots mirroring passers-by in shop windows in Regent Street,
  • Social Media - by creating a #Humans social media teaser campaign,
  • Online - by making an eBay listing for a household robot, with the price set at a reasonable £20,000.

It's fair to say that no one was quite sure what was going on with this concept until the series started, but there is a clear success story here. Channel 4 had 6 million viewers tuning in to the first episode, the biggest drama audience they've had in twenty years. Now, if that's not engagement I don't know what it is.

Lesson 2: Reach customers across a series of different advertising channels to create positive and useful engagement.


3. Coca Cola - Be personal


When companies start dealing with large volumes, consumers can start to seem much less like people and much more like numbers, but this is the last thing we, as customers, want to feel like.

The Coca Cola 'Share a Coke' campaign where they printed the most popular British names on bottles across the country, was a marketing triumph, with 150 million personalised cokes sold in 2014 alone.

What this proves is how successfully companies can engage customers if they feel that something really relates to them, or to the people they love.

Something as seemingly small as using someone’s name (whether that be on an email or a bottle of coke), shows that the brand is interacting with you directly, and that you're more to them than just a number or a statistic.

Lesson 3: A little personalisation goes a long way - using someone’s name seems like a pretty simple idea, but it appeals to everyone. After all, it's the one thing we all have!


4. Dove - Build a relationship with your customers


Dove's real beauty campaign featuring women of all shapes and sizes started in 2006 as an attempt to change the way people perceive the idea of beauty. And in the following ten years, it’s been hailed as one of the most successful ad campaigns of all time.

Jennifer Bremner, a Unilever brand director, comments on the success of it suggesting, "We believe that conversation leads to brand love, and brand love leads to brand loyalty" and this idea of creating love around a brand in order to engage customers shouldn't be underestimated. Throughout the campaign, interactive ads led over 1.5 million people to Dove's website, demonstrating that by allowing customers to get involved, you can massively increase customer engagement.

The campaign has continued to evolve over the last ten years, and what we can take from this is how powerful the tool of relatability is.

Working to bridge the gap between you and your customers, either through increased transparency, using real customers to sell products, or even something as simple as the language used in advertising campaigns all helps to engage customers.

The Dove campaign stood out for all the right reasons:

  1. It made a huge corporation look like it really did understand the wants and needs of the average woman buying their products.
  2. It created a relationship between Dove and their customers by challenging conventional thinking
  3. It considered the emotion of Dove customers

Lesson 4: Be relatable, use advertising to bridge the gap between you and your customers and consider customer emotion in everything you do


5. T-Mobile (And Kim Kardashian) - Be social


She's already broken the internet, and now T-mobile have decided to use the most expensive advertising spot in the world to let Kim Kardashian tell us about the 'tragedy' of unused data.

First broadcast during the 2015 Super bowl, the mobile company perfectly summarised how customer engagement can use the trends of today in order to succeed in the modern world of advertising.

Combining humour with celebrities appears to be a winning concept, and although it would be easy to discount her as merely a product of Hollywood hype, Kim Kardashian carries real weight in the world of social media, with 33.7 million Twitter followers alone.

By using this knowledge, filling the advert with selfies, and giving it an all-important hashtag title "#KimsDataStash", T-mobile has engaged their customers on platforms that suit them, and allow both her fans and their customers to do what they do best on social media, and promote the brand for them.

Lesson 5: With Twitter having an average of 236 million monthly active users, social media is an outlet that can't be underestimated in the world of customer engagement today.


6. Red Bull - Be extreme


We all know that 'Red Bull gives you wings', so what better way to promote it than to see someone jumping from a specially designed Red Bull capsule and free falling 128,100 feet from the edge of space. Red Bull are an energy drink company, but known as experts of content marketing, they are great at creating campaigns that far surpass what they produce.

Lesson 6: Creating an identity and story that customers associate with your brand, creates a real essence for your company and what you stand for.

Redbull is a drink, but their brand is far more than just that, and their customers are constantly engaging with them on each level that they exist, from scientists researching space exploration to athletes competing in extreme skateboarding, businessmen in branded aircrafts, or simply students trying to stay awake over exam period!


7. Three - Never underestimate the power of simplicity


Sometimes even the most simple concepts are the ones that can get your customers the most engaged, and even though dancing horses may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of mobile company, Three, it doesn't mean that this campaign wasn't a hugely successful one.

The ad featuring a Shetland pony moon walking across the Shetland countryside became the biggest viral advert of 2013.

The company say that their intention was to get people smiling, and it seems like they did just that, with follow up app ThePonyMixer allowing users to create their own virtual dancing pony, and with a spin off Christmas ad, it proves that customer engagement is sometimes as simple as a bit of fun.

Lesson 7: Sometimes all your customer engagement strategy needs to be is funny!


8. John Lewis - Be sweet


In a world of so much choice and competition, surely a brand is succeeding in engaging their customers when customers actively show an interest and desire to know what they are going to do next.

A great example of this is the trend of Christmas adverts, a concept led and, arguably, done best by John Lewis. The company began their festive advertising run in 2007, and gradually managed to become one of the most hotly anticipated parts of Christmas marketing in the eight years that followed.

By the time Christmas 2014 came around, John Lewis began a teaser campaign featuring the hash tag '#MontyThePenguin' and with the 120 second ad first shown between Channel 4 programme 'Gogglebox' and later featured on the same show, we were given a glimpse of just how much the British public were excited to find out what the brand had done to surpass their efforts in years gone by.

The ad has now racked up over 23 million YouTube hits.

To be in this position of having customers waiting to see what you'll do next without having to chase them, is an example of a real customer engagement triumph, and a real triumph for how heart-warming and family friendly content still has a place in advertising today.

Lesson 8: Don't overcomplicate your advertising strategy; sometimes it's the simple, sweet content that will have your audience on the edge of their seats!

If you're looking for more ways to innovate around customer engagement, join us for CX Day at LEGOLAND® Windsor to explore this and other key topics around how to build a great customer experience!

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Innovation

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