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.
Clever use of interactive livestreaming, a partnership with the retail concept The New Stand in support of emerging artisans and a bizarre campaign probing personal sex questions make our editor's picks for the week:
Old Spice lets fans control livestreamed marketing meeting
The rundown: P&G's Old Spice brand hosted a two-hour livestream on its YouTube channel on Aug. 15 that gave viewers a glimpse into a fictional boardroom meeting and let them control what happened through comments and polls, according to Adweek.
The faux marketing team touched on everything from small talk to "big talk," where the group went through their monthly marketing agenda. At one point, social media influencer Toddy Smith appeared to chat about the power of influencers (so meta) and have the livestreamers try to influence him.
Entertainment company Super Deluxe led the PowerPoint part of the stream and got input from fans on what the presentation should look like. The video, developed with agency Wieden+Kennedy, featured retro computer graphics and an on-screen animated characters that resembled Microsoft Word's "Clippy," which prompted viewers to respond to questions and vote to direct the meeting.
Old Spice plans to run four more events in a similar vein through the fall, per Adweek, though it's unclear what the agenda will be for those.
The results: While livestreaming isn't exactly a novelty anymore, Old Spice found a way to keep things fresh, and true to the brand's fashion, weird. By inviting viewers into its "boardroom," the marketer is taking a tongue-in-cheek approach toward transparency, letting fans control its marketing operations for a day — even if the whole thing was pretend.
Old Spice is also leveraging newer features that add a layer of interactivity to the YouTube viewing experience, such as live comments and polling. It's too soon to tell how many people tuned in to the event as it aired, but as of press time, the video had nearly 15,000 hits. The effort fits into Old Spice's broader messaging strategy, which has recently included scented paper blazers and an hour-long video of a yule log exploding that featured pitchman Terry Crews.
Old Spice also hosted a Facebook Live event around Valentine's Day last year that let viewers vote on what a guy should do as he tried to win over a woman on a pretend dinner date. The boardroom series mirrors other recent collaborations between Wieden+Kennedy and the digital media company Super Deluxe as well. For KFC, the two produced a bizarre four-hour Facebook livestream where cats interacted with a robot Colonel Sanders.
EBay brings Ohio artisans to NYC via clicks-and-bricks convenience store
The rundown: EBay partnered with retail concept The New Stand to expand the e-commerce site's Retail Revival program and offer a selection of items manufactured by local Akron, Ohio, artisans at two New York City locations. New Stand marries small retail shops in heavily trafficked locations — like busy transit hubs — with an app offering content and commerce, a mobile wallet and loyalty rewards.
In August, commuters at Brookfield Place — commonly known as the World Financial Center — and the Union Square subway station will be able to shop original artwork, streetwear and homewares made by Akron entrepreneurs at The New Stand. Limited-edition boxes featuring a collection of items from Akron will also be available online at eBay.com/Akron, with the proceeds benefitting The Well CDC community development organization.
The results: The goal of the effort is to expand the reach of the entrepreneurs and artisans that are part of eBay's Retail Revival program by introducing them to New York commuters. Partnering with The New Stand looks like a good way to accomplish this goal as the concept retailer is all about introducing new and unique items through its app and brick-and-mortar locations. It's a variation on the pop-up retail trend that a number of brands have jumped on.
New Stand's focus on physical retail for digital-first consumers has previously attracted the attention of brands like Refinery29 and Urban Decay. For eBay, the effort could drive awareness of its efforts to support local businesses in communities like Akron, which is starting to rebuild after a period of economic struggles and is the pilot city for Retail Revival, which provides tools and resources to help businesses get up and running online.
Younger consumers want to connect with brands that support causes that are meaningful to them, a need eBay is trying to address in a way that makes sense for an e-commerce site where individuals and small businesses can sell and buy hard-to-find items by connecting the brand to the feel-good cause of supporting local businesses.
Retail Revival will expand to Lansing, Michigan, in the months ahead and shoppers can learn about when new items will be available on eBay by following #RetailRevival on Twitter.
Trojan Brand Condoms probes personal sex questions in oddball new effort
The rundown: Sex sells, as they say, but do intimate questions about men's sex lives? Trojan Brand Condoms is looking for the answer with a series of bizarre ads that launched this week and feature a New Age mysticism spin on the marketer's long-running Trojan Man motif.
The spots, created by the condom maker's new creative agency 72andSunny New York, show men coming to the Trojan Man with uncertainties about their sexual preferences, emotional commitment to relationships and other issues in a world where the conversation around sex is constantly evolving. They're given wisdom by a near-nude, frizzy-haired iteration of the brand mascot, who ends his advice sessions by offering them a condom to ensure safe sex regardless of the their personal decisions. Other extra-short ads show the Trojan Man solo doing things like, uh, describing what "butt stuff" feels like.
The videos were directed by Eric Wareheim of "Tim and Eric" fame, making his second appearance on the Campaign Trail in as many months. The full campaign is running across TV and on social media, where followers can slide into the Trojan Man's Instagram DMs, according to the company.
The results: With its latest campaign, Trojan is trying to position its brand as more inclusive and sex positive — a recognition of how more men are experimenting sexually and potentially feel less afraid in exposing their softer, more sensitive sides.
The effort is laced with the typical hallmarks of creative helmed by Wareheim, namely through its heavy dose of irony and surreal production touches, like the two wordless assistants who attend to the Trojan Man or the character's means of describing different sexual experiences via tools like a giant peanut butter sandwich or xylophone. Wareheim, with his longtime collaborator Tim Heidecker, is in the midst of running a similar campaign for the direct-to-consumer mattress startup Purple.
While Trojan gets props for taking a progressive stance, the off-putting, occasionally creepy vibe of the humor doesn't necessarily gel well with frank discussions around healthy sex habits. Trojan is leveraging some trendy tactics like extra-short video ads, but Purple has a bit of an edge in terms of innovation by running a full-fledged, six-part web series with Tim and Eric — one that ultimately packs more laughs and feels more in-tune with its creators' sensibilities.