Campaign Trail is our look at some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
This week, a condom campaign raising awareness about venereal diseases catches the attention of John Oliver; a technology marketer tries to win over consumers who share the same name; and an e-commerce site looks to repeat its Super Bowl marketing successes:
7-Eleven's Norwegian chlamydia ads earn ire of country's tourism officials
The rundown: To promote its sale of condoms, 7-Eleven Norway is running a campaign that puts a dark twist on the type of tourism ads that typically entice foreigners to visit, according to The Kansas City Star. In out-of-home, print and social video ads, the brand depicts an idyllic view of Norwegian locals and landscapes — yes, there is an emphasis on fjords, the midnight sun and snow-capped mountains — but closes on a message that the country is the "The Land of Chlamydia."
"Norway has one of the highest rates of chlamydia in Europe," reads English language copy from one of the ads. "Visiting from abroad? Make sure to protect yourself against the locals! Get your condoms at the nearest 7-Eleven."
This hasn't necessarily gone over well with tourism officials, per the Star, with one marketing developer calling the promotion "a disaster." Not that there's no credence to 7-Eleven's claims, which are backed by data from Norway's Sex and Society center, the Star said, referencing a report in the Norwegian media and advertising trade publication Kampanje.
The results: No PR is bad PR, the old adage goes, and 7-Eleven Norway is cheekily parodying tourism ads while still sending an ominous warning for out-of-towners: buy condoms or risk contracting a venereal disease.
While Norwegian tourism marketers are perhaps rightfully alarmed at the strategy, it's certainly caught the attention of media outlets stateside, which might help boost awareness for the country in the long run. John Oliver devoted an entire segment to Norway's chlamydia problem on his popular HBO show "Last Week Tonight." A clip of the segment posted to YouTube has netted nearly 1 million hits at press time — more views than the videos shared by 7-Eleven.
And while Norway's tourism marketers are clearly reeling from the campaign, others, like Tore Holte Follestad, of the country's Sex and Society center, feel differently, according to the Star. Follestad told a Norwegian newspaper he believes the push sends an "important message" and that national health officials should be inspired to take a similar strategy.
LG zeroes in on Ryans for new smartphone promotion
The rundown: Is your name Ryan? Need a new phone? You're in luck. LG launched a campaign earlier this week encouraging the Ryans of the world to switch to its new LG G7 ThinQ smartphone. To sweeten the deal, the electronics company is also running a sweepstakes that'll give one lucky Ryan and seven friends the new smartphone, along with $25 vouchers for the Google Play Store, a billboard in Times Square, a party and a year's supply of cupcakes. Ryans can register for the sweepstakes on a microsite, whatsitgonnatakeryan.com, from June 26 to July 12.
To promote the sweepstakes and broader Ryan-focused campaign, LG debuted a video ad featuring "Parks and Recreation" actress Aubrey Plaza that depicts a normal dude named Ryan who's sick of his slow phone but just can't bring himself to get a new one. After refusing Plaza's attempts to convince him to switch to the ThinQ, Ryan moves on with his life, but is hounded by attempts of friends, family and strangers to sway him. His grandmother even finds her way onto television to tell the world about Ryan's dated device. Finally, Plaza charges through a wall and lures Ryan toward the ThinQ by offering to take a selfie with him.
The results: At first blush, LG's TV ad comes off as a bit whiny. The creative does little to mention the distinguishing features of the ThinQ but focuses plenty on making digs at Ryan's current phone of choice — which appears to be a thinly-veiled facsimile of the iPhone. Though the video is careful to never explicitly mention Apple's product, it highlights several public qualms with iPhones as of late, such as their lack of headphone jack, decaying battery life and seemingly constant OS updates.
One potentially winning aspect of the push is, well, engaging people named Ryan. While the sweepstakes is narrowly-focused, it might feel more personalized for those bearing the moniker, and LG has certainly rolled out the red carpet for Ryans with vouchers, out-of-home call-outs in Times Square and free cupcakes.
Tiffany Haddish says using Groupon to save money is easier than finding a man
The rundown: After starring in Groupon's popular Super Bowl campaign from earlier this year, comedian-actress Tiffany Haddish is back for a series of new ads for the e-commerce marketplace. The ads see Haddish — an avowed Groupon super user who the company said ranks in the top 1% of all its customers — using Groupons for local services like food and drink, beauty and spas and things to do.
The 15- and 30-second spots will run on television, online and on OTT platforms. The campaign's main message is how Groupon users can save up to $100 a week on the things they're doing anyway, like buying meals and paying for experiences. In addition, the company is promoting its Groupon+ service, a credit card cashback program that is currently available in approximately 25 U.S. markets.
Haddish's distinctive brand of edgy, anything-goes-comedy is on display in the ads, one of which is set during a rowdy girl's night out at a stripclub. "Who says saving money is hard? With Groupon+, I just claim a deal, pay with my linked card and get cash back," Haddish says in one ad. "I wish finding a man was this easy."
The results: Tiffany Haddish became a star seemingly overnight with her raunchy performance in 2017's surprise hit "Girls Trip" and has since made The New York Times best-seller list and become the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live. Being Groupon's spokesperson is a natural fit: not only is she a super user, but her story about taking Will and Jada Pinkett Smith on a Groupon swamp tour was a hit on the late night talk show circuit.
Because of her rags-to-riches personal story and real-life product use, Haddish feels more like an influencer than a traditional celebrity endorser. That's probably what Groupon is banking on, since 2017 research by Roth Capital Partners found that 78% of millennials either don't like celebrity endorsements or are at best indifferent to them.
One potential blind spot for the campaign is the lack of a strong, innovative digital component, with most of the creative centered on traditional 15- and 30-second spots. However, recent research by Research Intelligencer and Pollfish shows that U.S. adults prefer traditional 15 and 30-second ads both online and on TV.