Jon Thomas
Jon Thomas
Communications Director

10 Brands Doing Post-Advertising Right: Fall Edition

Each week, our social media team at Story hops on a conference call discuss the latest and greatest in the world of social media, content marketing, brand storytelling and the like. While most everyone would admit that meetings are rarely fun, I look forward to this call because I love to talk social-media shop. 

Considering how quickly marketing happens in the post-advertising age, we aren’t able to cover everything on the blog and a lot of great work that we discuss on our weekly call falls through the cracks. In the last year, we’ve made it a point to highlight the brands each season that have embraced Post-Advertising and have focused their efforts on creating engaging content and igniting movements that spread.

It’s been six long months since our last edition, so let’s get on with it! Here are Ten Brands Doing Post-Advertising Right: Fall Edition.

1. Oreo

Undoubtedly one of the shining stars of social media in 2012, Oreo was already one of the top brands on Facebook—over 28 million fans—when they created Daily Twist, a uniquely engaging campaign in celebration of their 100th anniversary. Starting on June 25th and lasting through October 2nd (100 days), Oreo posted one original and relevant branded image each day. The images celebrated various holidays, events and achievements, including Cheesecake Day, the Olympics, Twitter’s 6-year anniversary and the Mars rover landing. The images were shared hundreds of thousands of times by the brand’s fans.

The content was innovative enough to command attention while still staying true to the brand’s core story. By including a rainbow cookie for gay pride (which garnered an incredible influx of mostly positive page posts by fans), Oreo showcased their values in a productive way and created large amounts of earned media across major publications.  

 

2. Red Bull

Perhaps the only brand on this list that could challenge Oreo for the top spot on our list would be Red Bull. The energy drink that “gives you wings” has a steady Facebook presence (like Oreo, they’re one of the top ten brands on Facebook), attained in part by the sharing of vibrant imagery, many of which feature the brand’s sponsored extreme athletes.

But Red Bull made its biggest boom—literally—with the Red Bull Stratos mission. Supported by Red Bull, the only sponsor, and a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner ascended to 128,100 feet and broke the record for highest freefall jump. Watched live on YouTube by over 8 million viewers (a record), Baumgartner reached supersonic speeds and broke the sound barrier—all while flying the Red Bull flag on his spacesuit. The branded mission seemingly grabbed every headline and flooded social media channels, in the process enhancing their bold brand personality.

 

3. Tough Mudder

One interesting trend over the past few years: the rise in popularity of extreme races (or obstacle courses for adults, as I like to call them). Complete them and you can consider yourself a warrior, a spartan, or just plain tough. Tough Mudder is arguably the most difficult race of them all, and their marketing efforts have been just as strong. Boasting over 2.6 million Facebook fans, Tough Mudder invests in creating shareable content for its fans across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. They hire professional photographers and videographers to document every step of the race. Since just finishing one of these races is an impressive feat, how could you not share photos and video from the event, featuring yourself, to everyone you know? Plus, Tough Mudder issues a steady diet of email messaging to keep participants engaged, along with daily workouts to keep them on track.

 

4. Bodyform

There was some argument amongst the PA team as to whether or not Bodyform should make the list this time around. If you’re not familiar, the UK-based feminine hygiene manufacturer received a comment on their Facebook page from a disgruntled male that quickly went viral on its own (84k likes, 3,500+ comments). Bodyform responded with the video below, which has garnered over 3.1 million views on YouTube.

The argument against showing up on our list: while it was a clever video, it wasn’t truly authentic (the woman is an actor, not the CEO, like she claims), and it was an isolated marketing incident. Post-advertising is about effectively telling your brand’s story in a variety of audience touch points. However, while those points are valid, as a man, watching this video has been the one and only time I’ve ever cared for more than a split second about a feminine hygiene product. That has to count for something, right?

 

5. Sharpie

How many pen, pencil or marker brands do you follow on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram? Probably not many—except Sharpie. The brand has amassed over 3.6 million Facebook fans by embracing all the unique ways its community uses its markers, highlighters and pens. Most impressive is its Instagram presence, which, admittedly, is what first caught our eye. @sharpie posts unique photos not of the product but the art created with the product, which routinely garner thousands of likes a piece. It’s a perfect blend of the brand’s personality and the product’s capabilities.

 

6. James Bond – SKYFALL

In anticipation of the release of the 23rd James Bond film, SKYFALL, and in celebration of the franchise’s 50th anniversary, the official JamesBond007 Facebook page sent their 1.3 million fans off on an adventure of their own. Utilizing the feverish growth and popularity of Instagram, the mission challenged fans to upload photos on Instagram of themselves at famous Bond locations and tag them with #Bond50 and #SKYFALL. User-generated content is an easy and direct way to build relationships with fans, and we loved this execution. Plus, Adele—a brilliant choice—sang the official theme song. The music video has been viewed more than 45.4 million times on YouTube.

 

7. Hiut Denim

You may not have heard of Hiut Denim. But, if you appreciate good jeans, then you better get familiar. Their story is rooted in the idea of doing one thing and doing it well, and for Hiut Denim, that one thing is jeans. And in order to buy their jeans, you have to choose what type of denim. Do you want organic denim from a great mill in Turkey or selvedge denim from Kuroki, the artisanal Japanese denim mill?

Visit their beautiful brand site where ecommerce is given as much weight as their story, their blog, their films, and a page featuring products they love that have nothing to do with jeans. Every user interaction feels true to this artisan brand’s story. While you might not be able to pronounce their name, you certainly won’t forget them.

 

8. Movember

Here at Post-Advertising, we’re big fans of brilliant cause marketing, and few (if any) do it better than Movember: A moustache-growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health. They’ve impressed us so much that we’ve written about them not once but twice. However, since we’re in the month of Movember and the nonprofit organization is poised for their biggest fundraising month ever, they deserved a nod in this list. The brand embraces moustache growing as a way to get others talking about prostate cancer and every touch point sports a fine moustache. In case you’re wondering exactly how to grow a moustache, Movember—by way of a spot-on celebrity endorsement and collaboration with Made Men— has you covered: 

This, year, updated branding (a sharp new look-and-feel for “Movember and Sons”) is featured in a slick mobile app, numerous localized websites and Facebook pages, and a fantastic YouTube page. They have a tone-of-voice all their own. By creating a movement centered on the viral, talkable nature of moustaches and social fundraising, Movember has embraced post-advertising in a big way.

Honorable mention to The Art of Shaving, a perfect sponsor for Movember that offers a free shave to participants today, November 1st.

 

9. Kayak.com

Frank Reardon now spends hours searching through dozens of travel sites because he was mean to the founder of Kayak.com in college—or so the commercial goes. But when the “real” Frank Gordon responded to the ads, upset that he couldn’t use Kayak and pleading to have the ban revoked, Kayak.com did what any good brand would: said no to the bully.

In a great use of YouTube’s playlist feature, you can watch the story unfold yourself. But beware; this is our Free-Time Paradox in action. While busy writing this article, I found myself venturing further and further down the rabbit hole until I was booking a flight from San Francisco to D.C. at FRANKSKAYAK.com (best…Facebook…page…ever). Bravo to our neighbors at Kayak.com, who are just a block away from our South Norwalk, CT office.

 

10. eBay

One way to reach our hearts here at Post-Advertising (besides through our stomachs) is through long-form content that features those who help define a brand’s story—customers. eBay created a campaign called “eBay Thanks You” that focuses on real stories of success. Of course the content helps eBay, showing audiences how effective the auction platform can be. But it’s a great piece of storytelling, especially when you think about how eBay has literally created new lives and livelihoods for individuals that simply weren’t possible 15 years ago.

We recently featured three carmakers that are embracing brand stories. In the process, they’ve launched digital platforms that aggregate their customers’ stories. We’d love to see eBay provide this possibility for its users. 

Honorable Mention: AMC

I can’t remember what AMC was prior to 2008 or so. Can you? But with the success of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, they have redefined what it means to tell great stories. It’s as if they hired someone who sat everyone down and said, “Let’s stop showing old movies and find great storytellers who want to create high-quality programming.”

There’s definitely a content marketing lesson to be learned from AMC. They’ve proven that a focus on quality content can bring a lesser-known brand to the forefront of an audience’s awareness because the best stories win. In other words, people share content they think is great. No number of commercials or billboards could have done this. Their paid media only fueled their owned media (like Breaking Bad’s Facebook page), which has created a groundswell of earned media, including character-based social media accounts, Reddit categories, forums, active Twitter hashtags and more. Now, when talking about high-quality, award-winning programming, you can’t mention HBO and Showtime without mentioning AMC.

Honorable Mention: Grey Poupon

We already dedicated an entire post to them, so we won’t repeat ourselves, but they deserve a mention here. Their “Society of Taste” on Facebook was a lesson in brand storytelling. 

Which brands would you nominate?