Thinking Outside the Box: 40 Quirky and Intriguing Marketing Campaigns – Part 2

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1Where's Herb Ad

Where's Herb Ad

Burger King launched a $40 million ad campaign in November 1985 called “Where’s Herb?” The idea was to find a character named Herb who had never been to Burger King. Other chains pointed out that if Herb wasn’t at Burger King, it meant he probably liked other chains’ burgers more. Burger King’s profits fell 40% in 1986.

2. In 2016, Yukon Territory ran an awareness campaign advocating for Vitamin D with the slogan “We all need the D.”

3. Lamborghini doesn’t make tv commercials because it is an ineffective way of reaching their target audience and “cheapens” their brand.

4. Nintendo held a now-lost livestream boxing event to promote Super Smash Bros. in 1998. The lost event included Mario, Yoshi, Pikachu, and Donkey Kong costumes in a boxing match. As of now, only a few screenshots from the event are available. The footage is being searched for by fans.

5. The most complained about British ad campaign is a 2005 advert for KFC, which showed call center workers singing with their mouths full.

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A device named An0m was marketed to criminal organizations as super-secure, with its own closed messaging network. It was actually run by law enforcement across multiple countries, who got copies of every communication sent through it.

7. Apple was allowed to advertise the iPhone X in the UK as capable of shooting “studio-quality portraits” because there was no finite definition of what studio-quality means.

8. In Canada, Superbowl ads are nowadays considered an integral part of the Superbowl program. The CRTC (which regulates Canadian TV) specifically bans broadcasters from substituting the American ads with Canadian ones.

9. Between 1967 and 1991, companies in USSR produced thousands of TV ads for non-existent products.

10. In 2005, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority demanded the cancellation of an ad where 50 Cent remarked on having really survived being shot 9 times, saying that the ad was “[..] implying it was possible to survive being shot nine times.” Reebok accepted their demands and withdrew the campaign.

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11Fingos Ad Campaign

Fingos Ad Campaign

Despite a $34 million advertising campaign in the United States by General Mills Inc., their breakfast cereal snack Fingos only lasted from 1993 to 1994.

12. In 2018, Domino’s in Russia offered up to 100 free pizzas every year for 100 years if a customer got the Domino’s logo tattooed visibly on their body. Initially intended to last a month the promotion proved to be so popular Domino’s ended it after a week with 350 accepted winners.

13. In 1992, Nike made a Super Bowl commercial where an animated Bugs Bunny played basketball with a real-live Michael Jordan. The commercial was so successful that Warner Brothers decided to turn it into a whole movie (Space Jam).

14. There was once a Colgate marketing campaign in Thailand, where once you finished eating ice cream or a lollipop, it revealed a toothbrush-shaped stick with the message “Don’t forget”, alongside the Colgate branding.

15. In the UK the maximum amount of airtime allowed for TV commercials is 12 minutes for any particular clock hour.

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16"The Perfect Body" Ad

There was a Victoria’s Secret “The Perfect Body” ad that sparked controversy in 2014 because it featured thin underwear-clad female models who all had the same figure. A petition asking the company to apologize for their “harmful marketing campaign” reached nearly 10,000 signatures.

17. Casio was widely accused of false advertising after launching an ad where a hockey player used a g shock watch as a puck to demonstrate its toughness. However, once a TV news channel replicated and verified the ad’s authenticity it gained popularity amongst the general public.

18. Škoda actually made a full-sized car out of cake for their 2007 advertising campaign.

19. On 29 May 1886, Coca-Cola’s first ad appeared in The Atlanta Journal. Its creator John Pemberton predicted Coca-Cola would be a “national drink” but he and his son sold their stake to satisfy morphine addiction. He died penniless but the recipe remains a closely guarded trade secret even today.

20. In a promotional Volkswagen experiment, one randomized group of subway commuters were given the choice of regular stairs and the escalator while a second group could choose between musical “piano stairs” and an escalator. The piano stairs convinced 66% more people than normal to choose stairs.

21Ikea Crib Ad

Ikea Crib Ad

Ikea once ran a print advert on which you urinated and if you were pregnant it gave you a 50% discount on a crib.

22. To promote the game Burnout 2:Point of Impact, Acclaim Entertainment offered to reimburse any driver in the United Kingdom who received a speeding ticket. Following a negative reaction to this from the UK government, the plan was canceled.

23. Sega created a character named Segata Sanshiro to promote the Sega Saturn in the late 90s, an over-the-top martial artist who performed insane antics while yelling at people to play Sega Saturn. His last commercial had him protecting Sega headquarters from a missile attack and riding it into space.

24. Apple’s famous 1984 commercial only aired twice, once locally in Idaho, and once at the Super Bowl.

25. In 1955, Burma-Shave ran a promotion for a free trip to Mars if someone sent in 900 empty bottles of their product. It was intended to be a joke, but when a man from Wisconsin duly sent in 900 bottles, they scrambled to honor the promotion; sending him to Moers, Germany.

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