Campaign Trail: M&M's tells interactive ghost story; Snapchat brings Dancing Hot Dog to life; Bud Light parodies hipsters
The brands take messaging in new directions by telling a story over several weeks, bringing a digital character to life and using mockery.
Campaign Trail is our look at some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world.
Marketing Dive's editors, who are still deciding what to dress up as for Halloween, review how M&M's and Snapchat are getting ready for the holiday as well as a Bud Light campaign with a fresh take on millennial marketing.
M&Ms tells choose-your-own-adventure ghost story on social media
The rundown: M&M's is telling an interactive ghost story across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in weekly installments throughout October leading up to Halloween. "Millie & Max: A Ghost Story" unfolds over seven chapters, each an approximately 30-second animated video that moves the story forward and then asks viewers to vote on one of two possible decisions the main character should make, with the following week's installment proceeding based on the most popular choice. Eerie music and spooky scenery set the mood while text screens reminiscent of those in silent movies relay the basic plot points for the story of a 15-year-old girl who has just moved to Rhinecliff, NY, from the West Coast and encounters different scenarios in her new house. M&M candies appear throughout as a plot device. At different points, Millie must decide which trail of M&M's to follow and which flavor to grab.
The results: Interactive digital stories are somewhat of a trend with younger consumers who regularly check their smartphones for new and fun content. The format has not been widely adopted by brands yet and M&M's appears to be testing the strategy more than making a big push against it. On Facebook, the first video has been viewed just over 2K times but chapter five has 17K views. The brand is smart to jump in as an early adopter and test the ability to drive engagement over a period of time with an interactive story, a strategy that could make the content more memorable and raise brand awareness.
The choose-your-own-adventure story format is gaining steam this year. Netflix debuted its first such shows for kids earlier this year and the storytelling app Episode has partnered with several major entertainment brands. Retailer DSW recently drove engagement with a choose-your-own-adventure ad featuring a woman who has been cheated on by her boyfriend. In August, Hanes was the first brand to run a choose-your-own-adventure Canvas Ad on Facebook.
Snap brings Dancing Hot Dog meme to life with $80 Halloween costume
The rundown: Snapchat might be best-known as a platform where shared images and videos disappear after 24 hours, but it's making a more tangible footprint this Halloween with a new Dancing Hot Dog costume. The get-up, priced at $80 and available for sale on Snap Inc.'s Amazon page, is a real-world recreation of a 3-D AR World Lens that went viral earlier this year and served as an appealing use case for marketers eager to use the feature.
The Dancing Hot Dog lens, which displayed exactly what its name implies, has been remade here in polyester, as a two-piece suit that includes a grotesquely-named "Hot Dog Tunic" with detachable hand covers for easy access to mobile phone screens. The product page erroneously claims the costume is made of 100% beef.
The results: The Dancing Hot Dog lens, beyond being popular with users, has become surprisingly central to Snapchat's AR pitch to marketers. When announcing that 3-D AR World Lenses were finally open to brands at Advertising Week last month, Snap executives pointed out that the lively frankfurter had accumulated more than 3 billion views on the app.
With the new Halloween suit, Snap is clearly trying to translate that popularity into some e-commerce sales that could further drive interest in the character and also accommodate shoppers who are scrambling for last-minute costume ideas (never fear, cooked wiener fans, there's still some in stock). This isn't Snap's first crack at a physical product, following the camera-equipped Spectacles sunglasses that have seen a precipitous drop in sales since launching about a year ago. Like Spectacles, the costume feels more gimmicky than anything, though some may gawk at the $80 price tag.
Far better than the hot dog outfit itself, however, are the Amazon user reviews, few of which appear legitimate while nevertheless being consistently engrossing to read. "I wore this to work for the first time today, and I've already been promoted twice," an Amazon member who goes by the user name Family wrote. "Soon I'll be the top dog around here."
Bud Light takes aim at cliché ads in latest parody spot
The rundown: As part of an ongoing "Keep it Bud Light" campaign, the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand has launched a cheeky spot that parodies ads targeted at hipster millennials. The 30-second clip flaunts young, stylish people frolicking on a beach in branded bohemian garb like Bud Light kimonos, while lyrics like "super cool girl with aspirational friends, lifestyle ad with Bud Light at the end" play. Somehow, a four-poster bed and pet rabbit even make it into the party scene.
The ad by Wieden + Kennedy London aired on TV and at movie theaters last weekend, with plans to hit Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram through the end of the year, according to Adweek. It's reeled in 150,000 views on YouTube since its Oct. 14 debut.
The results: Even if the latest by the brand comes off as over-the-top and intentionally generic, leveraging a dash of self-aware marketing is pretty entertaining.
But while Bud Lights gets some points for voluntarily making fun of itself, mocking lifestyle ads via irony seems a tad overused, with the tactic dating back decades. Brands that use this strategy also run the risk of turning away the consumers they are trying to attract if the ads are perceived as condescending or insulting. Overall, Bud Light's attempt is lighthearted enough that it's likely to give a few viewers a chuckle.
Bud Light also teased a line of quirky merchandise in September — kimonos, towels, jackets and fanny packs — in another element that might delight young consumers, who are showing a growing penchant for branded gear.