How 2013\’s Campaigns Will Inform Those of 2014

The Interactive Advertising Bureau studied the most successful digital campaigns of 2013 and rewarded the brands that did best at the IAB Mixx awards. To do so, the IAB asked a group of industry experts to help figure out just what it was that made such an impression on the people. So, how did social media help with the success of these campaigns? If we study this year’s campaigns from Axe, Toshiba and Coca-Cola, we come to understand that social media users are interested in campaigns that offer something beyond the product.


The axe campaign of 2013 engaged with the audience because it turned audience preconceptions of the ad on its head. By creating the Susan Glenn Character, a fictional yet relatable being whom men want to approach but don’t quite know how, the brand actually conveys female empowerment, dodging original misogynists perceptions of this men\’s fragrance.

The conclusion of the ad is that the Axe fragrance will help men overcome their fear and “Fear no Susan Glenn”. Therefore, the advert engages and empowers both demographics, making it enjoyable and relatable. The advert offers more than the brand or product because the audience can connect with it on a personal level.

If we think all social media is to an extent, personal, what you share relates to what you feel and think. Therefore, by reaching the audience with a significant storyline, it can only maximise shares.

The Axe team were instrumental in feeding the hype on social media. On Tumblrs, slang dictionaries, and message boards, Axe representatives described \”Susan Glenn\” as the one super attractive, cool woman every man has lusted after but never had the courage to ask out on a date. The Unilever brand ultimately revealed it was behind the meme with a commercial starring Kiefer Sutherland as a forlorn adult wishing he\’d had the guts to approach his Susan Glenn. Therefore, the engagement after Sutherland also appealed to both demographics as it depicts the famous actor as quite pathetic and amusing, all of which can be overcome with Axe.

The axe ad suggests that in 2014 we will begin to see organisations attempting to engage with multiple demographics through one ad. We have seen the success of targeted facebook ads. Facebook is a beneficial platform for advertisers, in that we often know a person’s age, gender and interests. However, if we create a common ground that can be discussed by a much wider audience then this may be even more successful on social media in 2014.

[box type=\”info\” align=\”aligncenter\” ]Strengths and Takeaways

  • Engaging with multiple demographics simultaneously.
  • Creating a fun, relatable and cult character.
  • Celebrity endorsement to add humour (Kiefer Sutherland).[/box]



\”The Beauty Inside\” was a six-part, 30-minute online film made by Intel, Toshiba, and their agency, Pereira O\’Dell, to stress the importance of inner beauty, not just with regard to human beings, but the Intel chips inside every Toshiba laptop.

The story centred on a character named Alex, who wakes up every morning in a different body, and falls in love with a woman named Leah. Because Alex was a different person every day, Intel and Toshiba invited the public to try out for roles in the series and to film themselves saying certain lines of dialogue, which were then included in the series.

The videos, which included beautiful cinematography and a touching, happy ending, generated more than 70 million views worldwide and an approval rate of 97% on YouTube.

\”The Beauty Inside\” was a hit because it tied in perfectly to the reason people use social media in the first place: to share their stories with the world. Furthermore, the use of the public in the video gives makes the video relatable to social media users, a sense of community.

Intel and Toshiba allowed the public to help them tell a story about an item (the computer chip) that is often difficult to form a narrative around. Therefore, similar to the Axe advert, the campaign was a success on social media because it makes a usually boring object, fun and applicable to everyday life. We could learn a lot from this for 2014 social media campaigns and we should see more obscure objects communicated in an abstract yet clear way.

[box type=\”info\” align=\”aligncenter\” ]Strengths and Takeaways

  • Creating an engaging story about an inanimate, complicated object.
  • Short yet effective. 30 minutes long so great for social sharing.
  • Inviting the public to be involved to create a sense of community – good for social community.[/box]



Coca-Cola and its agency Leo Burnett earned more than 58 million social media impressions with their \”Small World Machines,\” which were video chat terminals that allowed Pakistanis and Indians to connect with each other in real time. The machines were placed in public spaces in Pakistan and India, and beckoned citizens of the rival nations to virtually touch hands and create visual art by tracing the designs on the touch screen terminals.

The campaign was popular on social media because the consumers were able to see benefits beyond the products. Coca-Cola was one of several brands to make an ad this year about bridging the divide between India and Pakistan, joining a Google ad that highlighted the power of its geo-location and search technologies.

The campaign was popular on social media because it is current and relevant. Everyone at some point has experienced a language or cultural divide. Social media aims to bridge that gap and Coca Cola successfully did so in a visual and ‘shareable’ way. We will begin to see more brands doing this in 2014. The appeal is offering the idea that your brand can offer something unique to the world.

[box type=\”info\” align=\”aligncenter\” ]Strengths and Takeaways

  • Bridging cultural gaps, in the way social media does.
  • Emphasising their company philosophy which is to ‘share a Coke’, share an experience.
  • Conveying benefits beyond the product so social media users without loyalty to Coca-Cola are still likely to share.[/box]


What Should Inspire the Campaigns of 2014?

  • Create great story-telling and strong visuals because this is what people like to share. It\’s all about storytelling!
  • Aim to reach wider demographics. Of course, remember to keep your media targeted but not exclusive.
  • Bridge social and cultural gaps through social media. Don\’t force your brand into this, but come across as sensitive and try and bridge gaps wherever you can. Strike an emotional chord.
  • Communicate complicated concepts/objects in an abstract way. Infographics are a great way for you to express yourself and your brand, graphic videos are another that you can use.

The key thing we can take from each of these award winning ads, is that, this year\’s social campaigns will aim to convey life enrichment. Is your brand ready?

Let\’s see what 2014 has to offer.

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