And it is this fierce competition that breeds weird ads. Though such ads can at times be a bit too ‘out there’, many brands succeed in creating entirely odd yet engaging campaigns. And when done right, these ads can become viral overnight and be a great boost for brand image and familiarity. This blog will explore these unconventional ads, picking out what makes them work and analysing their success.
Weird Ads that Worked
1. EDEKA, SuperGeil | February 2014
In 2014 EDEKE, created an ad featuring a middle-aged man promoting the German supermarket's products whilst dad-dancing through Berlin.
Overnight, this man became a celebrity as the ad gained 1.3 million views a mere 4 days after its release. And what made this ad go viral? Its complete and utter bizarreness. The lead actor, Friedrich Lichtenstein can be seen smoking sausage ‘cigars’ and bathing in milk as he calls every product ‘supergeil’, translated as ‘super cool’.
This ad aimed to target a younger audience, with the idea that millennial attention could help the ad go viral and spread further and faster than any other demographic. Achieving this with pure eccentricity, the official video now has over 16 million views.
2. Cadbury’s, Gorilla | August 2007
For those who have been living in a hole for the past 9 years, the Cadbury’s Gorilla advert simply featured a man dressed up in a Gorilla suit playing the drums to Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight.
The timing of this ad was a risk given Cadbury’s salmonella scare the year before. However, it proved to be worth every penny of the £6.2 million campaign cost.
It gained over 500,000 views in the first week of release, was voted as the public’s favourite ad of all time in a poll run by Marketing magazine and boosted sales by a whopping 9%. This ad epitomises how effective unusual ads can be, taking us by surprise and sticking in our minds.
3. PlayStation, Mental Wealth | 1999
Back in the Noughties, PlayStation released an ad featuring a Scottish girl with a CGI-distorted face speaking about ‘Mental Wealth’. It took the nation by a storm as viewers tried to understand what the ad meant. This intrigue spread abroad with the creation of 8 versions. Its peculiar nature also earned it the 2000 D&AD Awards.
Even now, 15+ years on from its initial release, this ad catches our attention. If you search for this ad in Google, there are hundreds of recent posts discussing the ad. The longevity of this ad proves the effectiveness of ‘the bizarre’ to gain and retain our interest.
4. Three Mobile, The Pony | February 2013
As Three Mobile’s 2013 ad begins, we are met with the beautiful backdrop of the Shetland Islands, only for a pony to abruptly take centre stage and moonwalk along the clifftops to Fleetwood Mac.
Proving our love of the eccentric (and anthropomorphic animals), the advert went down a storm. Before this ad, Three were creating ads that directly promoted their products/services. They were far less ‘adventurous’ and were gaining little attention. Within the first week of releasing The Pony ad, it had over 2 million views on YouTube.
It also went viral on social media, boosted by the creation of the Pony Mixer app. This allowed users to make the pony boogie on down to the music of their choice. This could then be shared on social media, generating over a quarter of a million shares less than three weeks on using the #DancePonyDance hashtag.
5. Quiznos, Singimals | February 2004
In 2004, Quiznos created a budget ad of small creatures wearing hats and singing of their love for the American sandwich shop. You may be asking yourself, why would rat-like animals make me want a sandwich?
However, because Quiznos was in the initial growth stage, they knew they had to get known. The ad’s aim above anything else was therefore to gain awareness - and they certainly achieved this.
In February after the release of their ad, traffic to their site boomed to 575,000 unique visitors - four times greater than the month before. They also were 1% away from being voted the Worst Ad in America 2010 in a Consumerist’s reader poll. Rather than suggesting the ad was a failure, on the contrary it showed they had succeeded in gaining the nation's attention.
As this blog has shown, weird advertising can be a highly effective strategy. Their unusual nature can reel the viewer in, capturing their intrigue and engagement. And with the number of ads continuing to grow apace, expect to see a lot more weird ads as advertisers fight to stand out from the crowd.
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