Jean Claude Van Damme throwing an epic split, cartoon animals killing themselves in stupid ways and the Old Spice Guy on a horse… The power of digital is the power to surprise and delight with the finest examples of human creativity. Here are five of our favourite digital campaigns of all-time:

1. Metro Trains “Dumb Ways to Die” (2012) – McCann Australia

Digital channels: Youtube, social media, iTunes, smartphone app, website

Campaign goal: To make young people aware of the high level of fatalities that occurs around metropolitan trains.

Results: The video and song generated an incredible 20 million internet views in its first week, going on to become the most shared public service announcement ever.  To date, it has over 126 million views on YouTube, and the offshoot game became the number one free app in 21 countries. A true reflection of its success is that it generated countless user-generated spoofs and offshoot memes.

Why we love it: What’s not to love? The song is cheeky, catchy, entertaining and educational – a very difficult balance to pull off effectively. It was embraced wholeheartedly by its target audience, going above and beyond that once the video went viral. Plus, it’s helping save lives!

2. Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010) – Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Digital channels: YouTube, social media, website

Campaign goal: To resurrect an old brand, making it more appealing to a younger demographic.

Results: With over 50 million YouTube views for the original video (and a number of spin offs), this campaign resurrected a stale old brand, making it hip and interesting again. In response to its phenomenal viral success the agency developed an interactive digital campaign that featured the Old Spice Guy posting personal video responses to fans online.

Why we love it: Ummm, it’s the Old Spice guy… Of course we love it. Women want him and men want to BE him. Jokes aside, the concept is a work of genius, as was the idea to generate the personal response videos, an experiment in real-time branding that became one of the world’s most popular online interactive campaigns of all time.

3. Heineken “Crack the US Open” (2014) - Wieden+Kennedy

Digital channels: Social media, website

Campaign goal: To create an interactive photo hunt as a competition to give away tickets to the US Open. Also used for brand awareness.

Results: The contest continued for three days, with 1,500 people taking part in a total of seven photo hunts. The game was hailed a success for driving awareness of Heineken’s sponsorship of the US Open and saw a 20% increase in followers for the @Heineken_US account.

Why we love it: Wow, talk about innovative! The first thing you notice about their Instagram account is that every image is flipped sideways – it’s the largest image ever instagrammed and the one stadium photo was split into more than 200 photos to create a mosaic panorama. We love that the agency literally thought outside the square to innovate within the platform.

4. Volvo Trucks “The Epic Split” (2012) - Forsman & Bodenfors

Digital channels: YouTube, website, social media

Campaign goal: To influence B2B decision makers and make engineering interesting to laypeople

Results: The choice of Jean Claude Van Damme was inspired, and his epic stunt across two moving trucks set the Internet aflame with viral buzz and speculation about the authenticity of the video. Was this real? How did he do it? (For the record – it was all real!) To date, the video has had over 82 million views. The Van Damme clip was one of six videos about the trucks, all of which went viral. The videos produced a huge ROI and boosted internal pride and confidence within the business.

Why we love it: We love this one because it smashed out of its humble B2B origins to become a global viral hit, despite operating on a limited budget. This sector rarely produces highly creative content, so the agency took a real risk in creating something quirky and innovative. And let’s not forget that epic split… Jean Claude Van Damme, we salute you!

5. McDonalds “Surprise Alarm” (2014) - DDB Singapore

Digital channels: iTunes app, Google Play, Adwords, social media

Campaign goal: To promote the less-popular breakfast menu and act as a branding exercise

Results: Lots of people sleep with their phone at arms reach. Tapping into that opportunity, an app was created that would allow McDonalds to engage with their customers first thing in the morning. The app offered nice surprises like free songs, free food, inspirational quotes and vouchers. The “Surprise Alarm” app achieved over 420,000 downloads and has given out more than 5.9 million “surprises”. Within days, the app climbed to the #1 spot and surpassed its 6-month download target in just 3 weeks.

Why we love it: We love this because no one likes mornings - but everybody likes happy surprises. The genius of this campaign lay in its ability to complement people’s natural behaviours, incorporating their app seamlessly into daily habits without being intrusive or unwelcome. The alarm clock is useful, and lessens the blow of waking up by offering lovely surprises. A simple idea, but a brilliant one.


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