Using Unconventional Advertising to Increase Brand Awareness

In advertising, innovation is everything.

In recent years, we’ve seen a trend in advertising that takes a more innovative (sometimes even bizarre) approach to catching the public’s attention. With the advent of social media and advertising platforms that are increasingly more creative, companies are taking more risks in their marketing campaigns.


Here are a few of our favorite examples:

Paramount Pictures:

The  RINGS TV Store Prank started off as a video on social media to promote the new Paramount Pictures horror film, “The Rings” (2017). The video went viral. The incredible response to the video majorly impacted their ticket sells - it grossed about $83,080,890 globally– even though the movie itself didn’t receive great reviews!


One of the great kings of marketing, Coca-Cola, has also benefited from a video prank, albeit their “Hug Me” campaign is much more warm and fuzzy than that Rings video! The Coca-Cola video of people hugging a soda machine and being rewarded with a cold can of Coca-Cola is not only in line with the friendly, inclusive Coca-Cola brand, it also triggers the reward center of the brain (important no matter what you’re advertising!). Their “Share a Coke” campaign also capitalizes on the friendly intimacy of their brand, but takes it one step further by giving Coca-Cola bottles everyday names like “Kim,” “Alex,” and “Destiny.” Talk about getting intimate with your client base! In this ad, Coca-Cola consumers feel that they are being spoken to directly.


Similarly, Volkswagen recently did some rebranding that resulted in the  Fun Theory video set in Odenplan, Stockholm. This video shows a subway stop staircase turned into a piano. Though the staircase is right next to an escalator, the vast majority of the passersby take the stairs. Why? Because they’re fun! The video provokes a reaction that is also intimately linked to the VW brand - one of authenticity, human connection, and good times. Still, if you saw this video on Facebook or Twitter, you probably didn’t even realize it was a Volkswagen ad - there’s not a car in sight - until it ended with the iconic VW logo. The video also provides a link to the Fun Theory website, an initiative by Volkswagen “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.”

A ski resort used a 1-star review in its (brilliant) ads

A ski resort used a 1-star review in its (brilliant) ads

Snowbird Ski Resort:

In advertising, the obvious rule of customer reviews is that you share the very best ones. One ski resort in Utah, however, turned that conventional wisdom on its head and used a 1 star review as the basis of their new ad campaign. In the review, a guest said that the slopes at the resort were “too advanced” to the point of being “ridiculous.” Snowbird embraced the review – using it to attract snowboarders and skiers who crave the challenge of difficult slopes.

The ALS Association:

Unconventional advertising is used by non-profit organizations as well. You likely remember the ALS Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2014. The chain reaction challenge asked people to dump an ice cold bucket of water over their head - on camera. They then make a donation to the ALS Foundation and ask others to do the same. The challenge started to promote awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; by the end of 2016, it had raised over $115 million for research.


Want to get the attention of your client base? Use the examples above as fodder for your own advertising campaign. Remember:

Always aim to provoke a response. To be memorable, your campaign should create a memorable reaction - whether that reaction is laughing, screaming, or even crying.

Appeal to your client directly. Intimacy is important in advertising. Try to make your client base feel like you are speaking to them directly.

Take advantage of the thing(s) that makes your company stand out, like ridiculously challenging slopes.

Appeal to the “team mentality.” Do something - anything - to get people engaged, even if that means asking them to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads.

Finally, don’t be afraid to take risks.

Happy advertising!