As consumers, every day now feels like Halloween. We approach each transaction like an apprehensive trick-or-treater hoping that our reward for ringing the next doorbell will be a full-size chocolate bar. Unfortunately, we usually wind up with a tiny box of stale raisins — or worse.
While it’s tempting to mark the season of horror by rehashing the litany of marketing tricks by a few bad actors, instead let’s take a walk around the block and see what various channels are offering for treats.
A humanitarian response to real-world horror
As the airline with the largest presence on Puerto Rico — almost 500 of its crew members live there — JetBlue felt the impact of Hurricane Maria more acutely than most corporations. In addition to airlifting people off the devastated island and transporting supplies in, JetBlue launched an online fundraising campaign, GlobalGiving.org/jetblue, with the goal of raising $500,000 by November 15. JetBlue has pledged to match the funds, raising the total to $1 million.
We’ve traced the ad and it’s coming from inside your smartphone!
Kudos to Svedka Vodka for a clever campaign that took the most horrific offenses in digital retargeting — the hall-of-mirrors sensation of being trapped in a haunted house with a digital stalker — and used them for comedic effect. And even if you don’t find it funny, you have to at least give them points for self-awareness.
No one will be admitted during the last 10 seconds
Mars candy and Fox tag-teamed on a creative Halloween-themed campaign by springing a series of “bite-size horror films” that are two minutes each on unsuspecting viewers. The creepiest, “Floor 9.5,” was written by the experienced “adverhorial” team of writer Simon Allen and director Toby Meakins. Presented by Skittles, it debuted during the Major League Baseball playoffs.
We segue from genuinely scary to just plain silly. Taco Bell’s Snapchat app enables users to answer the age-old question: What would I look like as a giant taco? It’s a virtual mask that offers a refreshing change from the usual ghoulish suspects.
Gateway to another world
Several brands have taken advantage of another Snapchat innovation, Snapcodes, to enter a new advertising dimension. This year, brands put Snapcodes to a variety of creative promotional purposes, including a Wendy’s campaign in which the company donated $5 to a foster care foundation whenever a customer scanned a code on drink cups that enabled a dedicated Snapchat filter. “Snapcodes are unique as they seamlessly connect social and real-world experiences,” Jimmy Bennett, Wendy's head of media, told Business Insider.
Ring a bell?
There’s a trend here. The most effective campaigns are those that break boundaries and go across channels. Now, if only there was a new channel that took the programmatic potential of digital and applied it to something less ephemeral — like, say, tangible media such as catalogs and postcards that are relevant to the consumer’s interests that the consumer could receive in their home to spend time with whenever and however they choose…
Adam Solomon is Chief Product Officer at PebblePost. His diverse background includes stints as an aerospace engineer and patent attorney with a doctorate in intellectual property law, plus 20 years in consumer media and marketing. That’s given him both an abstract and a practical perspective on Programmatic Direct Mail®.