4 Most Creative Digital Marketing Stunts of 2019 (So Far)

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Viral digital marketing stunts have officially won over consumers. The modern advertising tactic creates valuable buzz for brands. The stunts can come in the form of pranks, experiences or just a play on marketing industry trends like augmented reality and influencers. Take a look at some of the four most creative digital marketing stunts of 2019 so far.

1. Childish Gambino, Coachella & Experiential Marketing

Musician Childish Gambino, whose real name is Donald Glover, pulled off the ultimate experiential marketing stunt at Coachella this year. He used Airdrop on iPhone to send random festival-goers a photo of the new sneakers he created with Adidas. The lucky recipients who accepted the photo share on their phones received a free pair of the sneakers. Of course, to make this a successful marketing stunt, they had to sign a contract that made sure the recipients wore the sneakers the entire festival.

With everything going on at this extremely popular music festival, Adidas was still able to break through the noise. Recipients that did receive a pair of sneakers shared the stunt on their social media which created even more buzz. What does this stunt mean for the digital marketing industry you ask? It goes to show how impactful experiential marketing actually is. Major brands are using this tactic to reach customers in a new way, like pop-up shops, museums and Instagram-worthy experiences. Something to remember; keep it on-brand and exciting, because after all, delivery is everything to maximize awareness and engagement.

2. Burger King, Burn That Ad & Augmented Reality

If this is the first time you’re hearing of augmented reality (AR) being used in advertising, get used to it—it’s here to stay. Burger King leveraged this technology in an exciting way earlier this year. Burger King’s app came loaded with an AR feature “Burn That Ad” that created the appearance that competitors’ ads were on fire when a user held their phone’s camera up to it. Users experienced the ads going up in a blaze and found a coupon for a free Whopper burger in the virtual charred remains. The fast food chain used this AR experience to promote their BK Express service of ordering through their mobile app. This stunt was a huge success, as 1.5 million app downloads took place during the campaign period.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a fast food restaurant do something like this, and it won’t be the last. We can’t blame them; these types of campaigns are hugely successful. What can digital marketers take away from this? That calling out competitors in creative ways can be leveraged in ways to engage and gain customers and that AR is powerful. Expect to see a lot more of it.

3. Tinder, Height Verification Badge & April Fool’s

Love it or hate it, April Fool’s Day might just be one of the best holidays for brands who have a marketing team with a sense of humor. They have so much opportunity to create buzz and this is just what the popular dating app, Tinder, did. They released a blog post about a new Height Verification feature that would be coming to the app to crack down on all of the people lying about their height. Of course, this was an April Fool’s stunt and totally not true. Still, social media lit up with opinions from people who were tricked by the stunt and thought the height verification feature was harmful.

This marketing stunt was simple yet successful. If your company hasn’t leveraged holidays like April Fool’s Day, you may just want to start planning. Social media allows for something as simple as a blog post to go viral.

4. KFC and the Computer-Generated Influencer

We live in a world of social media influencers pushing sponsored posts. Influencers are especially powerful on Instagram, where a brand can spark monumental engagement from their target market via a spokesperson they trust. The only catch is that these influencers come with their own baggage – since many influencers like to “keep it real” they come with their own viewpoints and brand positioning that may be less than palatable for a national brand.

To address this, brands are turning to “Virtual Influencers”. Meet KFC’s “Virtual Influencer Colonel” – he’s 100% computer generated. Through April 22nd, he took over KFC’s Instagram account to show the world’s social media influencers how to really be an influencer, mocking them but in a funny, satirical way. Other big name brands like Dr. Pepper, Old Spice and Casper heard about the marketing stunt and wanted in, so you’ll see the Colonel featuring them on the Instagram account in the future. His sardonic hashtag, #SecretRecipeForSuccess has been used hundreds of times on Instagram.

The takeaway from these viral marketing stunts is that jumping on trends can pay off in droves. More importantly, it showcases the impact that social media and viral marketing can have on a brand. Effective, eye-catching marketing is more competitive today than it has ever been as attention spans shrink year over year. Each of these stunts were effective because they were in line with who the brand is, and who their customers are.

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Joe Beccalori CEO
Joe Beccalori is a twenty-five-year digital marketing veteran and industry thought leader. After working for fifteen years in enterprise web programming, design, and marketing services he founded Interact Marketing in November 2007 and is currently the company CEO, visionary, and public speaker. He is also a contributing author on Forbes, Huffington Post, and Relevance.com. In December of 2017, Interact's parent company also acquired Slingshot SEO.
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