Creativity in Public Relations » Creative Creativity, marketing, great ideas, smart thinking, public relations, insights, inspirations, innovations and more. (Formerly known as Ryan's View) Wed, 05 Aug 2009 00:52:54 +0000 en hourly 1 Smarties Colors For A Cause Charity Campaign Tue, 23 Jun 2009 00:23:46 +0000 Ryan Peal Yes, I’m a big fan of Smarties – I used to eat them all the time and lick them and stick them on my face to make colored circles on my nose and cheeks (you know you did it too).  Those little candies have just launched a new campaign called “Colors For A Cause” that makes it fun and easy for people to help Smarties decide where to direct donations to some great organisations doing their part to help the world.

When you visit the campaign site you first see six Smarties candies (in six different colors) spinning around, each representing specific causes like the environment, arts, sports, health, humanitarian and animal protection.  By clicking on a Smartie you learn more about each specific cause area, including easy ways you can help make a difference (like building a bird feeder to help animals or playing frisbee to help with your health) along with some interesting facts (like the worlds fastest tennis serve was 249 kms and the artist who designed the Rolling Stones lip logo was only paid 50 pounds).

Next up, the fun part, telling Smarties where you’d like it to donate the 10 cents donation it is making on your behalf.  There are two ways you can decide how to donate – one is an easy one, simply click on the interactive big Smartie and allocate specific percentages to each cause (it takes a bit to get used to how it works but keep trying), 100% could go to animal protection or you could divide a percentage equally to each cause.  If you aren’t sure, there is a 10-question quiz that offers you some multiple choices and uses your answers to get a sense of the kind of person that you are and suggests a specific percentage breakdown to each cause.

Once you’ve made your donation choices there’s an easy way to invite your friends to help make a donation with a Facebook application.  The Colors For A Cause Facebook app (you’ll need to accept it to check it out) has a nice visual overview of where the money thus far has been directed by visitors – today the leader is the environment – and shows how much you have donated (you can come back every day to vote during the campaign perioid) as well as how much your friends have donated (based on them seeing the campaign in your Facebook feed).  And the page also includes a runny tally of how much Smarties will be donating based on people who have participated – with the total just clearing $20,000 – showing how quickly 10 cents can add up.  And there’s also a Colors For A Cause store where you can buy hoodies or t-shirts or posters to raise even more funds.

What can we learn?  For one thing, everyone loves to help the world, and this campaign provides a natural “feel good” vibe to it.  I know it’s only 10 cents per visit but those ten cents can add up quickly and by being able to visit the site every day during the multi-week campaign you can help drive the totals up.  It’s sort of like a virtual water fountain, the ones that people throw coins in that are collected for charity.  I also like the easy way to integrate with Facebook and to see how much money you and your friends have contributed.  And the content and easy way to browse through different causes and also learn what you can do to help (beyond making a donation) is also a great way to keep the authentic voice high for this effort.

How can we make it better?  Not sure what’s being done off-line (as the campaign is taking place in Canada and I’m in Australia) but would love to see some giant Smarties costumed people out and about where the youth are playing this Summer in Canada – handing out smarties and directing people to the website.  It also would be nice for people to be able to add a “why I’m supporting a specific cause” to make it more personal and to feel like their voice could motivate others.  And I’m also a big believer that people like to see their name – so some type of scrolling leaderboard of people’s first name and last initial could have been nice too.  And just saw that the Facebook feed about the campaign shows up but there isn’t a link that someone could click on to get to the campaign to participate.

All in all, I love it, it works on so many levels and positions Smarties as a brand in touch with the interests of its young fans and has a lot of fun in the process.  Now, go vote, the campaign is over in 2 weeks!

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KFC’s New Pothole Marketing Mon, 06 Apr 2009 20:34:22 +0000 Ryan Peal This definitely caught me by surprise, and not sure what exactly what I think about it.  Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) announced that the company is now getting into the road repair industry.  Connected to the company’s “fresh”-centric marketing campaign, KFC will be filling in potholes in local streets in exchange for permission to place a chalked stencil on the pothole with a “Re-Freshed by Colonel Sanders” message.

So, I’m torn here.  I’m from Kentucky so of course I love KFC.  But I’m not a big fan of what seems to be a constant drive by advertising people to find a way to stick a logo on every empty space of anything.  Recently I’ve seen ads/logos on golf carts, back of bathroom doors, road pylons, shaved into heads and more.  Just seems like the clutter will never stop.

But, I do have to give KFC solid bonus points for such a creative idea – haven’t heard of anyone ever before doing pothole marketing.  The concept hits a soft spot for anyone who’s ever driven their car into a pothole (which is virtually anyone with a car).  And knowing that the chalk will wash off with the first rain means KFC knows it didn’t want to permanently “logo-up” roads either (no one would like that).  And the company has built-in an added buzz element by inviting mayors across the country to submit their cities to go into a draw where 4 cities will be picked randomly for the Colonel Road Crew to come fill some potholes.

From a learning perspective, given today’s economy the campaign scores high marks for actually addressing a serious issue – lack of local public funds to fix potholes – and doing something about it.  More points for providing something that consumers actually want (better streets).  And the company did a great job with the campaign visuals that were released to tell the story with pictures – who could pass up showing the Colonel in those glow-in-the-dark vests and hard hats.

So overall, a finger-lickin’ good example of creative thinking in action.

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End of week fun, make your own superhero Fri, 20 Mar 2009 19:27:49 +0000 Ryan Peal Someone sent me this site and I just had to share it – the site – The Hero Factory – lets you design your own superhero and it is great fun.  Sometimes your brain needs a little escape from the stress of work and life and needs a little playtime of its own.  This site will ensure your brain has some fun today and may just be the stimulus you need to leap some tall challenges in a single bound.  Once you made your superhero you are sent a great comic book cover that can be used in all sorts of social networking areas.  And, as a bonus, just wait until you get to the site to discover an inspirational song you can’t help but sing along too.

Now don’t be selfish, you can of course create a superhero for a friend or colleague and cause all kinds of trouble. Go Team!

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New e-Book Developed by Online Community Thu, 19 Mar 2009 22:20:29 +0000 Ryan Peal Today the results of a great consumer-participation competition go live today thanks to best-selling author James Patterson.  Last month the author announced the search for 28 authors from around the world to help James (we are definitely on a first name basis) co-author a new book called AirBorne through a new “chain thriller.”  James writes the first and last chapter (each chapter will be less than 750 words) and 17 lucky author winners will write the chapters in between.  Participants simply wrote less than 250 words to show off their skills, each starting with the opening sentence “The sky had turned grey as the four men walked nervously past the police car…” and letting their imagination and literacy prowess run wild.

Now the fun stuff – starting today fans can tune in each day for the next 30 days to read along together as the excitement and mystery unfolds.  The campaign was led by Borders Australia which has put together a solid campaign site, providing updates on the competition, writing tips from James, books James recommends and of course links to lots of social networks connected in on the fun, including Twitter and Facebook.

The competition works on so many levels.  First up obviously is the unique prize – being a “co-author” with James Patterson is a huge, money-can’t-buy opportunity.  And if just being a co-author isn’t enough the 28 finalists will receive some of the only printed copies of the book and one winner gets a 1:1 master class with James via phone – a huge buzz builder.  Today’s world is all about creating stuff that can be shared with friends – photos, blogs, tweets, videos, short stories, etc. – so this campaign also connects to this growing trend so naturally. The campaign also works on the buzz level – an easy idea to tell a friend to raise awareness of the campaign through friends and strong word-of-mouth.  And of course site traffic should be huge for the campaign, as the only place to read the story over the next 30 days.

Some great key learnings to keep in mind for your next campaign.  How can you make it easy for people to get involved through the creation of some fun content that they’ll want to make the time to produce?  What unique and “WOW” prize can you develop to persuade people to participate? And are you working all of the social media networks to really add excitement to the campaign and make it seem as large and accessible as possible?  Great things to consider to help your next campaign be a big success.

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The Year of Free: Quiznos Gives Away 1M Subs Thu, 26 Feb 2009 05:28:31 +0000 Ryan Peal I heard someone call 2009 “the year of free” for brands, what can you give away for free to your consumers so they feel like you understand times are tough, creating another level of emotional connection.  I think Quiznos got the memo with a campaign they launched 2 days ago in the US, giving away 1,000,000 subs for free!  People simply go to the campaign website – nicely named – provide a few details like your name, email and your favorite sub (nice database builder and mini research study) and an instant coupon is emailed to you.

Obviously every brand can’t give away free stuff (if only BMW did) but for those of you that can, now is the time to think of new ways to entertain and engage with people through a fun campaign like this.  As with most campaigns it isn’t hard to figure out – want a free sub, ask for it, you got it. And the company could have just had people on the street handing out coupons (or dressed as big shakes, like lots of brands do) but then they would have missed out on building a database, getting some online buzz and sharing the Quiznos story on the website.

But, there is a very nice added bonus – 31 lucky people (one for every day in March) will win free subs for a year – BONUS! Under the theme of making a “Better World” people can nominate their own hometown heroes to win one of the big prizes (or you selfish, hungry people can nominate yourself).

This campaign does a great job of getting people to actually come to the site to read what Quiznos is up to (on their way to find the “get me a free sub” button).  On the site you’ll find out that the company has recently lowered prizes and has some groovy looking chefs who make sure the subs taste great.  And I checked around and found a Twitter page for the promotion (with only 72 followers) and while the company seems to have multiple Facebook groups I didn’t find one that seems to be an overarching one to promote this campaign.

At latest count, 2 days into the giveaway, the total is nearing 700,000 free subs (well at least coupons) have been given away.  Not too shabby – there are some hungry people out there.  Now we’ll need to see what Quiznos does with their 1M strong database, ready for some regular Quiznos lovin.

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Hyundai and JetBlue Programs Help Offset Job Loss Consumer Fear Mon, 23 Feb 2009 23:43:45 +0000 Ryan Peal Hyundai and Jet Blue provide us with two great examples of creative thinking at work with the current global financial crisis in mind.  Earlier this year Hyundai scored a huge hit with its “Hyundai Assurance Program” which offers consumers a bit of a safety net when buying a car – Hyundai will cover the deprecations on any returned vehicle for the first 12 months if anyone is unable to make a car payment (through a job loss, becoming disabled or losing their license for medical reasons).

Hyundai looked straight at a hurdle for consumers to buy a car – the possibility of losing their job and not being able to make payments – and lowered it, creating a huge amount of goodwill with consumers (and lots of media coverage too).  And, word out last week is that it worked – in January 2009 Hyundai posted a 14% increase in sales compared with January 2008.  And this came at a time when GM dropped 49%, Ford off 39% and Chrysler off 55%.

This week Hyundai sweetened the deal with the company’s Assurance Plus program.  Now if people lose their jobs Hyundai will actually pick up 3 car payments (paying the lender directly, not just adding 3 extra months to the end of the lease/sale), giving them 90 days to still have their car and look for another job.  Again, based on consumer insight, the company realized many people need a car even more when they don’t have a job to actually get to job interviews – so my bet is that consumers will continue to show Hyundai love with this new program.

And in the “imitation is the best flattery” category, lets check out Jet Blue Airways.  The company jusannounced a similar lose-your-job-safety-net with regard to buying airline tickets.  The company announced its “JetBlue Promise Program” which says the company will refund tickets that anyone personally paid for (instead of by the company) if they lose their job.  There are some fine print details regarding when you lose it, how you let JetBlue know, etc., but the sentiment is there – and this feels like a JetBlue promise, connecting back to some of the earlier days as a company who came on the scene as a truly consumer-first kind of company.

I won’t be surprised if we see more of this kind of assistance being offered.  These programs are classic examples of brands who understand in tough times that the right kind of creative thinking and innovation that connect to true fears/hurdles/challenges of consumers can help brands actually deepen bonds with consumers, positioning them well for when they come at the other end of the current economic climate.

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I Dare You To Run Naked Through The Streets Tue, 10 Feb 2009 14:23:16 +0000 Ryan Peal And I’ll donate some cash to the Cancer Council of Australia if you do it.  That is the premise for a new campaign a friend sent my way that just launched down under called Daredallion Week (which I think is like dandellions but dare instead).  The campaign is fairly simple – what crazy thing have you been dying to do but needed an excuse to do it, or what do you want to dare your friends to do with a little built-in guilt to it thanks to both having a nice charity twist.

There are a few ways you can participate.  You can submit a dare for yourself and then email friends/family to sponsor you up to a specific amont, when you reach the goal its time to do the dare.  Or, you can suggest a dare for a friend (via email) and if they accep then they would ask people for money.  You can also sign-up for a team dare – in case you are too shy to do something on your own.

To try it out some of the guys here at H&K have agreed to a dare – a dare to race in high heels across multiple floors and obstacles around our new H&K offices, with a $100 donation to the Cancer Council if some of our colleagues sponsor us.  We may even throw a wig on just for fun and to ensure our video is hysterical (which of course guys falling down wearing high heels is already a good laugh maker).  You can go to the site and search under the “team” section to find “Hill & Knowlton” to sponsor us too.

The campaign has a YouTube channel set-up but doesn’t have any related videos just yet – some inspirational videos from the likes of Improv Everywhere but nothing else.  And the site does have a few potential dares to get your brain thinking in the right direction but not a lot of traction.  The official week to do your dares is March 2-6, so was hoping there’d be more activity on the site with it coming soon.

Assuming some things are in the plan to drive buzz and interest and participation, but just in case, while there is some time to put some ideas in action, had a think of ways to make this cool idea a success.  So, some things I’d add to the mix to make this one a winner:

  • Employee competition to get some activity on the site.  The site is all set-up and is well put together and all that, but there doesn’t seem to be any life to it.  If you browse around there seems to be only one person participating so far.  Getting employees involved would not only build some team bonding but provide some additional content to bring the site to life.  And would help populate some videos on the YouTube channel too.  You could also extend this to cancer council partners – reaching out to sponsors and friends to ensure they know of the campaign and b/c they are connected to the council, hopefully will be more inspired to participate early.
  • Celebrity participation.  Lots of celebrities have a favourite charity and some with any new projects (movies, TV shows, CDs) in the works would be looking for new ways to get some exposure.  Reaching out to celebrity managers and agents asking them if their clients would participate in a fun dare of their choosing with proceeds linked to their charity would add some more fun and buzz to the effort.
  • Radio partnership.  This seems like a great radio campaign, reaching out to some select DJs to get them involved, thinking of fun dares for their audience to do with the radio station providing some funds if their audience does it (like spelling out call letters of the station on the beach).
  • Approaching corporate sponsors for specific dares.  The site has the likes of Gillette, XBox, Aussie Bum and others but no specific dares connected to these brands.  Where is the “XBox will donate $5,000 and a new Xbox 360 to a player who sits in a mall and plays Halo for 24 hours”?  Or a dare sponsored by Lynx/Axe for someone to get a photo spraying a sportsstar with deoderant, with a $5,000 donation and a year supply of deoderant?”  These efforts would create a variety of conversation starters in multiple groups.
  • Facebook.  I couldn’t find anything on Facebook (and not that every campaign needs a FB connection) but would love a dare sponsored by a brand challenging someone to create a “Support Daredellion Campaign by getting 50,000 members to join this group”?  Would seem like with the right brand this could be fun.
  • Quick and easy initial dares.  I’d love some “street teams” hitting beaches and nightclubs and other spots where you can find some younger people out and about, and approach some groups hanging out together with some props to see who in their group would dare a crazy dare if their friends throw in some cash for the council.  I’d have a video crew in hand (because video is oh so needed for this idea to get some personality and excitement) and capture the fun.  Imagine going up to a group on the beach and ask them if they can round up $50 to make a donation for the council in exchange for one of their friends doing one of our pre-packaged dares with some fun props – throw on this cher wig and dance around the lifesavers; put this pink zinc sun block all over your body and lay on the boardwalk for 10 minutes; blow some bubbles and catch 20 of them in your mouth, etc.

Just some thoughts running around my head that I hope would help to make this campaign a hit, and raise lots of money in the process.  So, you out there, you are smart and creative (I’m assuming you are because you read my blog), what else would you recommend to help this campaign out?

PS – there are rules and legal things about the Daredellion challenge, so unfortunately you can’t dare someone to run naked, but it is funny to think about.

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Toyota Asks “Why Not” – Inviting People To Share Innovation Ideas Mon, 02 Feb 2009 07:57:15 +0000 Ryan Peal Toyota launched a very cool campaign this week called “Why Not” — with the company simply asking all the smart people out there in the world (like you and me) to share your thoughts on ways to make theworld a better place.  A simple idea – you guys know stuff, tell us what you think we should do and who knows, maybe we’ll do it.  A great sublte positioning for Toyota as well – a type of “we’re all in this together” feeling.  The campaign is similar to an initiative President  Obama launched last year asking  people to submit their own ideas on how to make things better – both ideas grounded in human nature we all have to help each other out.

When you go to the campaign website you find a cool little island that you hover over, reading little blurbs about Toyota’s innovations (nice, natural way to position Toyota as a cool company doing lots of cool things).  To submit an idea you just click on a particular part of the island (air, land, safety, community, energy) and fill out a little form with your idea and that’s it.  While there you can see what other people have said – rate the idea, say you’ll commit to doing it yourself or send to a friend.  In each section you can read more about what Toyota is up to by doing some more reading or watching some very cool videos.

To motivate people to submit an idea Toyota is offering trips to meet with some cool innovators in New York City, or my personal favorite, a VIP tour of Toyota’s largest plan in the US in Georgetown, KY – right outside my hometown of Lexington, KY (this is the one you want to win).  You win based on originality and creativity, so you better bring your big game to this one.

For me I love this kind of campaign – Toyota isn’t trying to sell you a car, its trying to simply provide a voice for people out there who may have some great ideas but aren’t sure who to tell.  The company has a natural vehicle to toot its own horn as appropriate, and it doesn’t feel pushy or out of place at all.  This is the kind of campaign that shows how well Toyota understands how to be a part of a conversation, naturally connecting with consumers , building a deeper relationship with each.  It’s a great idea every company could think about doing in a similar fashion – having a convesation with their customers about topics of interest to them – and learning something along the way if the dialogue is set up right.

A big hats off to Toyota for providing this casual forum and exchange of ideas – I look forward to the next evolution of the campaign which I’m hoping will highlight some innovations people submitted that Toyota is bringing to life.

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