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.
In this week's picks, Marketing Dive's editors examine how an insurance company takes a page from Dr. Seuss for an annual reading holiday, Natural Light's sports star-studded film for a summer product drop and iconic "Sesame Street" characters' new designer looks:
Farmers Insurance brings real-life claims to the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss
The rundown: Farmers Insurance is honoring author and cartoonist Dr. Seuss ahead of Read Across America Day on March 2 — what would also have been Theodor Seuss Geisel's 115th birthday — with a series of animated read-along videos. Made with agency RPA, the videos feature Farmers' "spokescharacter" Professor Burke narrating a revamped version of "Oh, the Places You'll Go."
A 60-second spot in the visual and rhythmic Seussian style illustrates the strange insurance claims Farmers has seen and covered, including: "You'll see that nature sure is wild, so it's where wild things belong. Like wild bears who might break in and moose too wild to play along." A microsite hosts additional Seuss-style information from Farmers alongside the real claims that inspired the stories featured in the campaign, which is an extension of the company's "We Know From Experience" messaging.
Three 15-second clips are also being pushed on digital and social channels, while a full six-minute piece encourages parents and teachers to use the read-along in lessons or activities on the annual reading holiday.
The results: By bringing real-life insurance claims to the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss — on his birthday, nonetheless — Farmers Insurance is taking a unique approach in its latest campaign. The company traditionally uses reality-based claims in its marketing to educate people about insurance, so taking a page from Dr. Seuss clearly aligns with its past educational goals.
The series of bite-sized videos will likely make the clips more easily consumable and shareable, potentially extending the reach of the campaign and pushing people to view the full six-minute video or check out Farmers' list of real, wacky insurance claims in the "Hall of Claims."
As of press time, the five videos across social platforms had racked up more than 2 million views and thousands of shares.
Natural Light cracks open new flavor with animated film
The rundown: Beer brand Natural Light launched Naturdays, a strawberry lemonade-flavored beverage designed "with all-day refreshment in mind." To encourage beer drinkers to adopt Naturdays as a session beer for day-to-night adventures, the AB InBev brand produced an animated short film to accompany the product launch.
"Red 18" features a story told by former NFL punter, commentator and podcaster Pat McAfee. The five-minute film is about a day of golf and gambling featuring McAfee, "The Sheriff" (Peyton Manning) and "The Goat" (Adam Vinatieri). Along with the film, Natty Light has teamed with JTG Daugherty Racing to paint the No. 37 car in the same color scheme as the beer's neon, flamingo-festooned cans for the Las Vegas 400 on March 3.
The results: Natty Light caught the attention of beer drinkers with its Naturdays launch, either for its summery strawberry lemonade flavor or Instagrammable can design (not all the feedback was positive, however). With the "Red 18" film, the brand has a solid partner in McAfee, the ex-Barstool Sports personality known for his irreverent storytelling. The animated short likely wouldn't be out of place on TV's nighttime programming block "Adult Swim" and has a look and feel similar to Cinemax's "Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus."
While the Naturdays beers are animated in the story, the brand never big-foots the narrative, resulting in a piece of branded content that feels mostly authentic, shareable and not overtly promotional. That balance could help to attract millennial drinkers who are abandoning beer for wine, liquor and low-calorie malted beverages.
As 'Sesame Street' nears 50, InStyle dresses up the cast in designer digs
The rundown: "Sesame Street" turns 50 in November, and InStyle is honoring the upcoming anniversary by tapping some high profile designers to dress up the core cast of puppets, whose looks have remained relatively unchanged over the show's history.
In a five-minute short posted to the publisher's YouTube page, characters like Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie receive an invitation to their own 50th gala with instructions to "dress to impress." Unsure of how to proceed, they visit Meredith's headquarters, where InStyle is housed, and get some help from the fashion magazine's Editor-in-Chief Laura Brown, who puts out the call to designers like Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs and Isaac Mizrahi and suggests an on-the-fly photo shoot.
InStyle asked each of the contributing designers to discuss their inspirations for the refreshed looks, such as Sui's "hippie caftan" outfit for Big Bird, which she described as embodying the character's "breezy, optimistic, romantic, nonconformist" vibes. The completed looks are displayed on five distinct InStyle digital covers, and the full video is available to view below:
The results: InStyle's dressing up of some beloved children's icons serves as a lighthearted way to pay tribute to a landmark year for "Sesame Street." The video and digital covers are also a means for the publisher to tie its own content into the popular TV show and collaborate with some fashion heavy-hitters like Sui and Mizrahi in an unusual manner, which could drive online traffic.
While the push nets points for cleverness and has some built-in likeability given that it's about "Sesame Street," there are some issues with the fit. "Sesame Street" might be ubiquitous in pop culture, but it's also targeted at very young children, who might not be especially interested in what Rosie Assoulin thinks Cookie Monster looks good in or even know what a "hippie caftan" means.
The timing is also a little off, given that the actual anniversary is still roughly nine months away. Still, InStyle isn't the first company to try and tie Jim Henson's singular creations to the world of trendy fashion. Uniqlo recently tapped Kaws for a capsule collection centered around the artist and streetwear designer's somewhat morbid spin on the show's characters.