In marketing, there are many ideas that fail for obvious reasons. There are those ideas that look good on paper, but for whatever reason, never manage to make a splash. And there are some ideas that are bizarre, outlandish, crazy-call them what you wish-yet for some reason, they click with the public and an unforgettable phenomenon is born.
It is these kinds of campaigns that we wish to focus on as we look back into the distant (and not-so-distant) past at 10 Bizarre Marketing Campaigns that Worked.
1. Oscar Mayer Weinermobile
Carl G. Mayer, nephew to the famous Oscar Mayer, designed the first Weinermobile in 1936. The hot dog-shaped auto has been an icon of cheap weenies ever since. This 75-year (and counting) marketing campaign has been not only a successful business move for the dog-makers, but it has also become a genuine piece of Americana. Who hasn’t tried to get their picture taken with this thing if they were ever lucky enough to encounter it parked on a family vacation?
2. Fanta’s Fantanas
The Fantanas are the advertising sensation, created by world famous agency Ogilvy and Mather, for Coca-Cola-owned Fanta soft drinks. They are known for their “hit” song “Wanna Fanta! Don’t You Wanna?” While no direct numbers are available concerning just how much revenue these girls have brought to Coca-Cola, the fact they’ve been in use for nearly 10 years, and that they have gone through four different teams of ladies speaks volumes about how well received they are by the public.
3. Old Spice Isaiah Mustafa
“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign was launched in Feb. 2010 and made the little used former Seattle Seahawks practice squad receiver a viral success, leading to several more appearances in the titular role. In the commercials, Mustafa, who sports a true athlete’s build while going shirtless, speaks directly to the ladies and tells them to basically look at what they could have if their men used Old Spice. As of June 2011, these ads have received more than 33 million views on YouTube.
4. Mitsubishi Triton Goat Deal
Launched in 2009, sales numbers in 2010 showed a 65% increase for the Triton Ute. While sales cannot be directly attributed to the goat, it is clear that the marketing scheme did not hurt the car manufacturer as pages of Internet searches turn up sites reporting on the bizarre scheme, usually as a subject of ridicule. Still, in an industry where most everyone is hurting, to post those kinds of results, you’ve got to be doing something right.
5. Mandom with Charles Bronson
The 1970’s Mandom marketing campaign that featured aging superstar Charles Bronson in a very My Fair Lady-esque dance number while all alone in his penthouse intercuts with scenes of him in Davy Crockett garb firing a gun at the camera. Bronson appears to use an entire bottle of the stuff all over his shirtless 50-year old+ body. The campaign, despite its 70’s pastiche and undeniable weirdness, remains a cult classic on YouTube and was, in fact, a success, ushering in a number of Hollywood stars, who would later act as spokespeople for the Japan-based product.
6. Blair Witch Project: Real or Make Believe?
No one can refute that the Blair Witch Project advertising campaign was successful. The film was shot and marketed for around $60,000. It grossed $140.5 million in the US and amassed $248.6 million worldwide. But was it crazy enough to be included here? We think so. After all, it had never been done before. Sure, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was purported to be based on a true story, but BWP went one step further and claimed to be the actual missing footage that revealed what happened to the ill-fated stars. It was, of course, hogwash, but when the film came out on July 16, 1999, there were many that thought they were watching reality unfold in terrifying fashion. The marketing alone also led to movies like Paranormal Entity and the even more successful Paranormal Activity franchise, which is now going on its third film.
7. Chick-fil-A’s Eat Mor Chikin
Those lovable Chick-fil-A cows, a product of The Richards Group advertising agency, were created for the popular makers of the chicken sandwich and launched on an unsuspecting public at the tail end of the 20th Century. Despite a brief delay during the mad cow disease outbreak of 2003 and 2004, the cows have been a huge branding initiative for the restaurant chain for more than a decade, reminding us all to “Eat mor chikin” and leave McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s behind.
8. Joel Veitch and the Sponge Monkeys
If you spoke to Quiznos about whether or not the Sponge Monkeys, a creation of Joel Veitch from rathergood.com, were a successful marketing campaign, they would probably tell you no. However, if you spoke to Veitch about it, he’d beg to differ. His creations became Internet singing sensations with, “We Love the Moon,” in which one of the visually altered tarsiers provides vocals and the other strums a guitar. The singing voice sounds like what you would expect a tarsier to sound like if it was a lounge singer. Once these little guys became submarine sandwich hucksters, their popularity faded, but they’re still alive and well on the Rock Band Network for the popular interactive video game series.
9. Careerbuilder Monkeys
These guys started as part of Super Bowl XL festivities, and quickly became a favorite among the SB commercial viewing public. Each commercial features a worn down office employee working with a cubicle village filled with monkeys. Rather than getting any work done, he is constantly having to deal with the daily humiliations of working with a bunch of “guys,” who neither care nor know what they are doing. Popular Careerbuilder commercials include the whoopie cushion board room meeting, the office party, and the inappropriate laser pointer, all of which usually end with the monkeys laughing their little butts off at their own shenanigans.
10. Dos Equis and the Most Interesting Man in the World
The popular beer’s “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign is a head-scratcher because, on paper, it doesn’t seem all that original. The Chuck Norris quotes had long preceded it. But when actor Jonathan Goldsmith looks deeply into the camera, you feel he’s staring into your soul, and for a 15-, 30-, or 60-second spot, you really start to believe he is the character he’s portraying. One that, according to “Frontline” announcer and commercial narrator Will Lyman, is the life of parties he’s never attended and one that sharks have a week dedicated to. The campaign allegedly raised sales 22% from 2006-2010, though no hard data is available. Considering other imports fell 4% during the same time, there seems to be some credence to the claim.
In summary, this list of 10 Bizarre Marketing Campaigns that Worked has a little something for everyone but it’s certainly not exhaustive.What are some of the most bizarre marketing campaigns that you still remember for whatever reason? Sound off below. We want to hear your comments!