When Oreo made its Super Bowl run around, professional marketers around the world shared a collective gasp. “How did they create the design and get it past legal so quickly?” we wondered.
If you’ve been a close observer of Oreo’s social media marketing efforts, you’ll know that their marketing team has been making those sorts of plays fairly consistently. The little cookies seem to have been made to be adapted to everything from same-sex marriage to the once-impending Mayan calendrical hard-stop.
Brands can often piggyback on a special real-life moment and, if not “own the day,” then at least go pretty far in embedding themselves into our memory of that event.
Red Bull has even been successful in creating these special moments — if you really want to tattoo your logo onto someone’s cerebral cortex, sponsor a daredevil to free-fall jump from the stratosphere and break a world record in the process.
But Super Bowls, Oscars, and ends-of-the-world-as-we-know-it aren’t for every brand. I spoke with Jon Lombardo, GE’s Center of Excellence social media leader, who told me that he’d given a great deal of thought to how people relate to brands. “People don’t necessarily want to connect to a brand on a daily basis — but they will make strong connections on special occasions.”
Pi, Pie & Light Bulbs
Lombardo went on to tell me that by making big investments in what he called “ownable moments,” brands can better connect with people around shared interests and experiences. “It’s less about Super Bowl moments and more about finding your own Super Bowl.”
I can only imagine that Pi Day at GE is like someone’s birthday party, the halls filled with gleeful research scientists and mathematicians. It generated a “Stump the Scientist” video, one of the first tweets that made really great use of Twitter’s new line-break functionality, and the sending out of 314 pies.
If Pi Day is like a birthday party at GE, Inventors’ Day actually is.
Back in 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan, the Senate, and Congress proclaimed February 11th as Inventors’ Day, calling upon the American public to “observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Not incidentally, this date marked the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison, holder of over 1,000 patents and one of the founders of GE.
For Inventors’ Day, GE mapped out a plan to ask Twitter users to submit invention ideas using the hashtag, #IWantToInvent. The top ideas were selected and then sketched by professional illustrators that GE partnered with for the day.
Over the course of the day, 70 blueprint-style illustrations were created based on those ideas and shared through social media. Among those who participated were famous prototyper and ultimate DIY geek, Ben Heck, and influential online personality, Ze Frank.
The community managers at GE were able to use the opportunity to join in over 250 real conversations. All in all, the results for the day included:
- Over 2,600 mentions of the #IWantToInvent hashtag
- 1,400 engagements on twitter (RTs/replies)
- 6,700 engagements (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook.
Just as the Coca-Cola Company has been able to take on happiness, Red Bull the idea of extreme living, and Nike the overcoming of human limits, GE has assumed the passion point of innovation.
By doing so, the company is free to celebrate a passion that countless people really care about without being overly self-promotional. In celebrating with their communities, GE reinforces the association of the brand with innovation, and is able to do so in a way that people want to join in with and share.
Too many brands are missing the boat on this point, falling back on the conventional marketing approaches of a decade ago. In taking ownership of an event or a special day, brands are able to connect with people on an emotional level. “What we really hope is that people go back and tell their friends and family about one of the coolest and most unique brand experiences they’ve had in social media,” Lombardo said of the campaign. “That’s the mission here.”
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.