The Slipperiest Search Campaign Ever

There are a lot slick opportunities out there in search marketing. The wheels of progress have never been greasier. Yep, since people first started paying to be included in search results, a lot of smooth transactions have taken place.

Yet, for a whole lot of good reasons, search lacks certain criteria for brand building. Over the years, more than a few studies have measured engagement, and many brands have attempted to overcome the very simple transactional relationship search advertising has with its pay-for-clickers.

Paid search does not exist in a creative void. The process of enticing the click, encouraging engagement, and creating a relevant experience has led to more than its share of imaginative executions, and to be candid, I thought I’d seen it all. That is, until a recent search for “date night ideas.”

Date Night

The only Google commercial result for date night on my mobile phone offering ideas was Johnson & Johnson’s K-Y Brand. Since my mobile screen grabber isn’t what it should be, let me offer you the pleasure of my text recreation of the ad:


Stay In & Enjoy A Free $40 Date Night Compliments Of K-Y Brand.

As if Valentine’s Day and the made up marketing romance holidays weren’t enough to bankrupt you, along came the date night concept. You can’t just go out anymore; couples have to have “date night,” because we all need more pressure to plan a good time.

K-Y’s date night campaign speaks to everyone fed up with the pressures of pulling together a special night beautifully. Stay home and for $40, you get good fun and entertainment all rolled up in a neat little package. Pretty smooth.

The campaign also wins because it pokes fun at the date night concept. Even if you don’t click on the ad, it will make you giggle — and a laugh always takes the brand up a notch.

I loved almost everything about this campaign, and I would nominate it for an award if not for one gigantic fly in the ointment.


The only thing I would question here is the Facebook landing page. It’s really hard to reconcile connecting the dots between a search, personal lubricant and the relationships I have on Facebook for the following reasons:

  1. My mother is on Facebook. So’s my aunt. And many of my friends. And people I work with.
  2. I don’t want to know these things about my friends… or people I work with.
  3. I don’t even want to know these things about total strangers.
  4. I’m 100% certain I don’t want my mom, my aunt, cousins, friends, and coworkers to know these things about me.

 ky date night ad

Since the good people at Johnson & Johnson weren’t immediately available for comment, I can really only guess as to the campaign’s motivation. Of course, the ultimate motivation is keeping lubrication sales moving; but, I can’t imagine a world in which people are forthcoming on Facebook about their “experiences” — well, forthcoming in a way that would be beneficial to the brand and the people using the product.

Just imagine heading to the drug store to pick up some personal lubricant and hanging out in the aisle to have a chat with other personal lubricant buyers. While you’re at it, invite your mom over for an opinion and (for some reason) your niece, aunts and uncles, cousins and colleagues as well. I think I’ll pass.

If you want a visual example of what I mean, just visit the K-Y Couples Place page and scroll through the responses to K-Y’s Valentine’s Day follow up question: “How was everyone’s Valentine’s Day? TELL us how you and your partner spent the night!” Nope. I don’t want to know.

Trust Relationship

Sensitive subject matter requires a sensitive destination. I would call this initiative a win if it weren’t reliant upon Facebook to augment the engagement cycle. This is a classic example of a cute, funny campaign idea that headed south of the border in its execution.

I would have loved to see a landing page directing me to content with interesting ideas for planning a fun date night. We have a million and one tools that can give us content generation ideas. Producing content is cheap. It would have stayed cute, funny and may have had a prayer of getting shared, which (I have to guess) could only be the motivation for paying to send traffic into Facebook instead of their own community.

Warren G. Bennis said, “Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.” Packaged goods (CPG, if you prefer) are a natural choice for advancing the cause of proving search has much more than a transactional relationship with advertisers. However, you have to complete the campaign with making sure the trust relationship your constituency has with brand and product is appropriately represented.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: Pages | Search Marketing | Search Marketing Column


About The Author: is CEO of Motivity Marketing. Motivity ‘s focus is helping companies in the world of connected marketing move forward with greater impact and return than they may ever have thought possible. Kevin takes an active role in guiding the day-to-day strategic execution of client initiatives.

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  • Tom Hespos

    So why couldn’t the link to FB have been replaced by a simple “order” link at Amazon or another fine retailer? Moreover, when are marketers going to realize that staging these things on Facebook is like investing in a CRM program where you need to pay in order to mail to the names in your database?

  • Marketing MadEZ

    The idea of the Facebook offer for a lubricant brand may seem weird, especially when you ask your fans to share their sexual life on your page. But it created engagement nonetheless. All their posts are liked and commented, but never shared.

    I think they missed their target and failed to enlarge their audience. But the idea is neat and applied to another product it would have been a hit (a brand of flower, perfume etc..)

  • The Digital Cookie

    In a time where the younger generation is sexting and snapchatting provocative pictures why wouldn’t they want to talk about lube on their Facebook page? Perhaps we’re just too old (and prudish) to fit the campaign demo :)

  • RedLeader

    I think a certain percentage of any mass-marketed post will get some Likes and a couple of comments. However, how many thousands of people like us did they miss by posting this invasive thing on Facebook vs. going to a private landing page on the brand’s domain?

    Then there’s the fake factor to consider – how many of those “Liking” the post and the brand are real profiles? I’d bet good money that most of them are not real profiles, maybe as high as 90%. Big brands do these campaigns all the time to drum up “Likes” without care about who or where the “Likes” are coming from.

  • RedLeader

    There’s a reason the kids have all been driven to Snapchat for sexting: privacy. I think this would be an excellent campaign (or one similar to it) on Snapchat, because it caters to the audience and maintains that privacy. Posting it on Facebook just completely blew it.


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