My Mantra

Helping brands and leaders be more influential
by embracing their humanity and personality.

Viral Marketing Archive

What 5 Fake Ads Can Teach You About Great Marketing

Sometimes clients don’t buy great ideas. And sometimes creative people have great marketing ideas for brands they don’t work on. I have thought for years that the greatest marketing idea for Crayola would be to create their own series of coloring menus and crayons for kids, and sell them to restaurants on a monthly basis as a subscription. But I never worked with Crayola, so that idea has just been sitting in my head for years.

Thankfully, the people behind the collection of ads in this post decided not to lock them away in the back of their minds. Instead, they created concept videos or used Photoshop to launch these brilliantly creative concepts online. Together they offer some interesting lessons on marketing that works or doesn’t work, and why. ¬†Here are a few of those lessons:

Lesson #1 – Avoid Icon Temptation

The “Think Small” ad introducing the first VW Beetle is a legendary print ad in the history of advertising. In this reimagined version first featured in a Behance collection of how classic ads might look today, the ad is “socialized” with everything from a hashtag to a QR code. In the process, it points out just how silly all our iconizing of ads with little social media buttons really is … especially for a print ad, which (in case you forgot) isn’t usually connected to the internet.

Lesson #2 – Stand For Something Bigger

One fake ad I have used often in presentations is the fun concept ad above. While it might seem like a Heineken ad, it was actually created by a group of students at an advertising school. The concept is great, and easily shareable. What I started wondering, though, was why the students chose Heineken to complete this ad for instead of some other brand? The reason, I think, is because Heineken is an experiential brand. They sponsor large events and create branded moments for their customers. And because they stand for something larger than their brand, when a team of students decides to spend some creative energy making a fake ad … Heineken is at the top of the list of brands they choose to feature.

Lesson #3 – Be The Brand You Already Are

No one would buy an exotic expensive car like the Bentley pictured in this ad because they love the environment. They are buying it for another reason. And just as Hummer is not a brand that talks about the environment, Bentley has the same “opportunity” with their cars … which this ad brings to light. We may not like inefficient cars that are not built to be good toward the environment, but there can be a value for brands in knowing who they really are … and more importantly who they are not.

Lesson #4 – Be Unexpectedly Honest

One of the most romantic notions that consumers sometimes imagine in a world of manipulative advertising is what it would be like if brands truly shared the entire truth. This fake ad for “the first honest cable company” shares a caricaturized version of what that ad might say if honest were at the heart of it. Thanks to the reality of an industry that has long been maligned for poor customer care and overpriced services – it’s no wonder the ad rapidly went viral with more than 3 million views so far.

Lesson #5 Р Offer A Visual Reminder

In a world with constant injustice and inequality, people may generally care but they need visual and frequent reminders of the problem in order to inspire them to take it more personally and choose to ad. This ad concept offers an interesting way to provide that reminder to people who may be choosing to throw away food and drinks. It may not change their behaviour in that moment … but it offers a visual reminder of the importance to not waste food that will last far longer in their minds.

Brand Reputation And Why All PR Actually Is Good PR (Unless You’re Already Famous)


Lots of people who don’t work in public relations will tell you that “all PR is good PR.” In other words, if people are talking about you – it doesn’t matter what they are saying. Then there are those who are in the profession who will usually tell you the exact opposite … that PR can be positive or negative…Read More >>

The Script Of Improv – What Is (And Isn’t) Real Time Marketing


A theater show happens in real time. It’s live on stage and the actors are actually saying the lines as you watch them. And if it’s well done, it can seem spontaneous and real and unscripted. But of course, it is scripted. They are memorizing lines and performing them. Improv, on the other hand is completely UNscripted. It is based…Read More >>

David Hasselhoff, Pinterest and the Upside of One Hit Wonders


Marian Gold probably never met David Hasselhoff. Back in the 1980s, Gold was the lead singer for a band called Alphaville that produced one of the best known songs of the era. The single “Big in Japan” was a chart topping hit, and has been featured in many films and compiliation CDs since it’s first release in 1984. Hasselhoff, on…Read More >>

2013 Trend – Heroic Design


What’s the Trend? Design takes a leading role in the introduction of new products, ideas and campaigns to change the world. For several years, leading companies have started to see design as a competitive advantage, but in the coming year design may hold the solution to the world’s biggest challenges. Partially because the solutions themselves may come through better design,…Read More >>

How To Miss A Huge Social Media Opportunity


As a creative marketing guy, I love a good idea. In fact, I’ve spent many hours sitting in conference rooms brainstorming with teammates to come up with them. So when I first saw Verizon Wireless’ big new campaign called Share America – I was instantly engaged. It is a great concept involving an up and coming band (Hot Chelle Rae),…Read More >>

The Lost Choir on Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving day and you’re probably thinking about food. Or spending time with family. But one thing you won’t be able to avoid is hearing about all the great retail deals. Thanks to early store openings and a relentless marketing machine promoting all the deals – there is a growing backlash against the commercialization of the holiday. No matter…Read More >>

How Personal Relationships Will Make (Or Break) The Future Of The Arts


For Nate Dern, the unlikely path to acting micro-stardom would come from a simple three letter catchphrase that most people would barely consider a word. As the artistic director of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and a sociology PhD student at Columbia University, Nate had spent years auditioning for different roles. In late 2011, he landed a…Read More >>

What Madonna Knows (And NFL Refs Don’t) About Pleasing A Crowd


It was quite a scene last night. On Monday Night Football, on the final play of a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, a ball was simultaneously caught by two guys. As they struggled for it in the end zone, the Green Bay player appeared to have it – which would have ended the game. But…Read More >>

The Surprisingly Simple Secret of Social Advertising

The Surprisingly Simple Secret of Social Advertising

There is a military technique described by the acronym LTD which you should know about. It stands for Laser Targeting Designators and it is basically a laser light source which is used to designate a target. In other words, by "lasing targets" – you put a marker on something so that when you shoot at it, you are more likely…Read More >>