The Perfect Multichannel Campaign

I love big advertising. I love it when the idea and the execution are breakthrough and innovative, and (mostly) when it all ties back to a primary product benefit. A well-thought-out strategy realized in a way that’s surprising and clever is just simply elegant. It’s as though the equation has been balanced and you can see a clear, simple line of thinking from what the product does to the value it provides to the message it sends to the way it’s received.

So I flat-out love the new Sony Bravia TV ad. It’s a work of advertising art. And as such, it very naturally spills outside the tightly bound space of television and into other media, including online, word of mouth, and PR. It shows us the nature of an integrated campaign isn’t simply the reuse of assets across several channels but rather a single compelling idea that’s inherently portable.

Have You Seen It?

If you haven’t seen the ad yet, take a minute to watch it. It’s actually a follow up to an earlier spot, which featured a zillion little colored balls bouncing down a steep street in San Francisco. This new ad takes place in a somewhat dreary apartment complex that suddenly becomes overwhelmed by explosions of colored paint (and one inexplicable clown, perhaps the only bad/confusing/off-brand element in the whole thing).

The message is simple: color. The ads attempt to bring to life the experience of seeing colors on the new Bravia TV. How do you take a decades-old product feature (color TV) and make it new? Make it dramatic. There’s an economy of messages here in this ad that gets you deeply focused on the singularity of benefit: color is good, and you should have it all over your world.

If this were a decades-old commercial, it would be just that: a commercial. But it’s not. Sony realizes the Bravia ads are now a cultural event. They’re something that people look forward to and discuss. It even has a unique URL for the ads: bravia-advert.com.

The site certainly has the ad, but it also had sneak peeks and (get ready for this) a trailer for the commercial. The ad itself had a special midnight release. You can subscribe to a feed, and there’s even a making-of feature. Sony has transcended from advertising to actual content with this work. On bravia-advert.com, I can’t even find any product information.

The reason why all of this works, of course, is because of that focus on the simple message: color. Sony isn’t trying to recreate another content site or provide all sorts of music or videos or games. The only content is about the ad itself. And the ad strikes that perfect balance. No one would come if the ad were simply a bunch of shots of the product. A ton of people would come if the ad were just funny or cool, but they wouldn’t get a product message. Sony lands right in the middle, with a message about color that leads people directly back to the product.

Technorati tells me that as of Wednesday morning there were over 19,000 blog mentions for “Bravia.” Amazon.com has a ton of Bravia TVs in stock, and all get either four or five star ratings from consumers. It’s nearly impossible to get a solid read on how well the product’s doing, but these indicators seem promising.

Your Turn

Achieving this level of success for a campaign is simple. Just do something really fantastic and creative.

Just kidding. I actually have always had a problem with pundits and commentators whose marketing advice boils down to “do something amazing!” It’s clearly good advice, but how are you going to do it? I could give the same advice to a bunch of struggling opera composers, landscape architects, or sushi chefs. It’s not really actionable.

Here’s what is actionable: boil everything you want to say down to an extraordinarily simple message that has real relevance to your consumer. That core is the key element to any successful campaign, but it’s also the key to successful cross-media integration. The message should be transportable and the execution, often, can be as well.

Request for an Upcoming Column

I’ve been collecting images on Flickr and other online photo sharing services that show products and brands in compelling ways. I’ve been using brand names as search terms (“Apple,” “IKEA,” “Starbucks,” and more) and found some amazing things.

If you want to either see what I’ve collected so far or to point me to some you’ve found, go here.

Nominate your favorite product or campaign for the 2006 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards, October 16 through close of business (EST) on October 24. Final voting begins on October 30.

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