Campaign Trail is our look at some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world.
This week on the Campaign Trail delivers a mixed bag in terms of quality, with a flimsy movie tie-up, some light-hearted promotions ahead of the Boston Marathon and a success story delivered in part thanks to Oracle data and Amobee's technology:
Deadpool sells out to shill for Devour frozen sandwiches
The rundown: The May 18 theatrical release of "Deadpool 2" is fast approaching, so the titular spandex-clad hero is doing the most to drum up hype for his movie. That includes … pitching for the frozen food aisle.
A new digital video starring the so-called "Merc with a Mouth" promotes Devour frozen sandwiches, a product of Kraft-Heinz's new Springboard accelerator program for developing and scaling disruptive food startups.
In the 30-second spot, Deadpool rides a unicorn through a grocery store, encountering different characters along the way, including a casino full of frozen foods brought to life and a young girl critical of him selling out.
"I always told myself I'd never sell out,” Deadpool said in a statement. "But daddy needs to bring home the bacon. In more ways than one."
The results: The first "Deadpool" was a box-office smash two years ago despite being hard R-rated, modestly budgeted (for a superhero film) and based on a not especially well-known Marvel Comics property. Now that the character, played by Ryan Reynolds, is returning to theaters for round two, brands are trying to get in on the excitement.
For Kraft-Heinz's Springboard, which was unveiled in early March, it's an opportunity to present the Devour brand as in-touch with the pop culture zeitgeist and to appeal to the type of male-skewing, relatively young audience "Deadpool" cultivated. The character's known for his meta, fourth-wall-breaking commentary, which the creative plays into by having Deadpool acknowledge he's selling out to "shill" Devour.
Other elements of the ad like the unicorn gag feel random and less sharp, with the jokes not able to pack the ultra-crude punch that typically defines Deadpool's humor. There also don't appear to be any particularly innovative digital elements to the tie-up that would extend interest past the YouTube spot. Cynical self-awareness only goes so far when the content's both this limited and has to stay PG.
Nike kicks up athletes' sneaker obsession in therapy
The rundown: A rising tide of consumer interest in athleisure and streetwear has fueled an obsession with sneaker culture, as illustrated with the sold-out Snapchat pre-release of Nike's Air Jordans in February. Nike's latest push to cash in on the trend can be seen in a campaign released on Wednesday featuring runner Shalane Flanagan and "Master of None" and "Ready Player One" actor Lena Waithe just days before the Boston Marathon, according to Ad Age.
The nearly two-minute spot is the first in a series of shorter clips, which will air online and on TV, where Waithe plays a shoe therapist, Dr. Dana Sole, whose clients like Flanagan eat, think and breathe their favorite pair of Nike kicks.
Other clients in the series, which was created by Dirty Robber, include Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green, who strapped his sneakers to his chest in a baby carrier, and track star Deajah Stevens, who's literally handcuffed to a locked glass case that holds a pair of pink shoes.
The results: The light-hearted series is a playful way to support Nike's position as a leading brand of athletic shoes, reinforced with the flash of a tagline at the end of each clip: "It's gotta be the shoes."
The videos don't appear to promote a single product, but rather the brand overall ahead of the Boston Marathon this weekend. Nike last year ran a successful marathon effort with its "Breaking2" campaign, which equipped three of the world's fastest runners with the Zoom Vaporfly Elite sneaker to see if they could complete a race in under two hours. While the goal wasn't met, Nike earned a lot of props, including from rival Adidas, for trying.
Here, the roster of athletes featured and Waithe bring a sense of humor to the campaign, and Stevens and Draymond already have endorsement deals with Nike. Some of the shorter videos also appear oriented for vertical screens, pointing to which spots will be pushed on social media and stressing Nike's recent success with its mobile-focused efforts.
Del Monte optimizes programmatic ads with Oracle's offline purchase data
The rundown: Hoping to drive in-store sales and optimize digital ad buys, Del Monte Foods Inc. piloted a new solution that connects digital ad impressions to offline purchase data while campaigns are still running, according to a press release. The ads promoted Del Monte's vegetable, Fruit & Chia and College Inn products with an eye toward reaching millennials in the best channel and on the best device for where they were in the purchase funnel.
The work was done through Amobee's new Sales Accelerator solution using Oracle Data Cloud, which provided offline transaction data on a weekly basis from sources like loyalty card programs. Sales Accelerator, which processes Oracle data through Amobee's DMP, was recently made available more widely following a pilot period. Over the course of the effort, Del Monte was able to decrease the cost per purchase by 63% and increase the purchase rate 2.5x, helping it get in front of more people while keeping the budget inline.
The results: One key insight from the effort was that using video in a concrete way to drive sales impact helped convert a younger target audience. For the vegetable segment, the company saw a 6% increase in overall viewability. Among millennials, Del Monte saw a 225% increase in the purchase rate against transactions tied directly to campaign impressions.
Correlating online ads to in-store sales is something of a Holy Grail for CPG marketers and digital platforms that's complicated by the fact that retailers typically don't make sales data available. Oracle, which works with large retailers and credit card networks, has a robust transactional data set that is anonymized and aggregated. Amobee is running this data through its DMP, enabling marketers to gain insights while campaigns are still in progress.
"Connecting the dots to fully understand the correlation between offline and online sales and how to most effectively reach consumers along their path to purchase has been invaluable for Del Monte," Jennifer Reiner, senior director for omnichannel marketing and e-commerce at Del Monte, said in a statement.