Updated on 23/02/2023

Unconventional marketing

Let’s see how unconventional marketing contributes to building awareness within a digital strategy.

Any effective guerrilla marketing campaign is carried out in two successive phases: the first, which involves a series of interventions on the physical and virtual environment, and the second, which capitalizes on the attention of the target through word of mouth (online and offline). It is in this second step that the “punctual” event (a video, an ambush marketing event, a message in the form of a sticker placed in prominent locations, etc.) is recognized as consistent with the brand’s communication style and functional to its story. From this moment on, people can make the brand part of their stories and contribute to make the event (and the brand itself) newsworthy: a process of strengthening the image and reputation of the company is activated, awareness is built.

In this article we will focus on the process of building brand awareness and:

  • the role played by unconventional marketing,
  • the presence, in the early stages of the purchasing process, of a trend for personalization.


New call-to-action


Building brand awareness: Buondì Motta and Old Spice

Brand Awareness: a definition

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said that the “brand” is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Seth Godin, one of the world’s leading marketing experts (he first coined the expression “Permission marketing”), extended this definition: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter, or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

In short, building a brand means much more than simply choosing a logo. The Brand is everything that “customers, employees, and others who you do business with think about your company.” It is the equivalent of a public profile, it embodies the ideals and values that the company projects into the world through:

  • visual brand identity (logo, website, color palette),
  • the brand voice (blog posts, mission statement, website copy),
  • brand values (for example, the causes that the company supports),
  • brand personality (corporate culture and philosophy).

If guerrilla marketing is born in limited contexts (small companies with small budgets), big brands quickly learn to exploit (and in some cases, perhaps, to domesticate) this strategy (for a discussion of the main issues related to guerrilla marketing, see our post), channelling unconventional marketing to enrich their narrative. Next, we’ll look at two exemplary cases of brand building.

An asteroid strikes the typical Italian breakfast

An example of a rewriting of the company narrative is Buondì Motta’s L’Asteroide campaign, which is useful here for highlighting the ways in which advertising and brand building interact as part of an articulated digital marketing plan.

Three commercials of 30 and 15 seconds and a short film, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Italia and planned by Phd Media Italia, aired from August 27, 2017 on national and satellite TV and on the main digital channels. A social campaign, curated by MSL Group Italia, canvased different subjects and ad hoc creativity was used to generate themed GIFs.

The objective was to consolidate awareness and increase positive sentiment on the brand, particularly among young families who are no longer interested in the idea of an ‘artificial’ breakfast. The spots showed early morning kitchens flooded with sunshine and perfect families, inexplicably enthusiastic at the prospect of a day in the office or at school.

Hence the concept: a young mother who cannot conceive that a delicious, yet light breakfast is possible is improbably struck by a meteorite as she speaks. The results: 17.5 million unique users, 12% engagement rate, 8.5 million complete views of the video, 90,000 conversations by users in the first 10 days of the campaign, over 360,000 interactions and 135,000 references on social media.
In just 7 days, the campaign appears more than 400 times in the main traditional and non-traditional media (radio, press, TV, web).

These are considerable numbers, but one fact that makes us think about the possibility of using a guerrilla storytelling tactic to successfully develop a “different” type of communication is this: 74% of Italians talked about the ad, including those who had not seen it.

Beyond the many analyses that have been published, the Buondì campaign, generating a strong online and offline buzz, has certainly contributed to strengthening the perception of the brand in a precise direction. In other words: individual actions, typical of unconventional marketing – humorous spots designed for a digital-first distribution (web and social) – as a result of content that has gone viral.


New call-to-action

Hello ladies

The campaign: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” is an exceptional case of rebranding that helped Old Spice, famous for deodorant for men, become a competitor in a new sector, body wash. How did it succeed?

The campaign boosted the image of Old Spice and showed that it was listening to what customers were doing and how they were buying (and who was doing the buying (women). The ad, created by Wieden + Kennedy, winks at young women (the real customers).

But there’s more. When Unilever announced that its Dove men + care product line would launch with a new commercial during the Super Bowl (the US sporting event with the highest recorded television ratings), Old Spice got the jump by releasing their ad a few days earlier, but only online and only on social media (which at that time was gaining momentum), with the first of several videos that would quickly upset the balance of the sector: it is February 4, 2010.

For further information, please refer to the excellent (and amusing) examination of Cheddar. The campaign went viral quickly (5 million 900,000 views on YouTube on the first day, to 20 million on the third day), and after just three months, by May 2010, sales of Old Spice products grew by 60%, and were up 125% by July.

Old Spice was a disruptor because it offered content that was to some extent extreme and also because it chose to release the content first on smaller media, betting on the ability of the content itself to create engagement and finally, even more importantly, focusing on millennials’ willingness to participate in sharing the message. Old Spice achieved this by avoiding the typical path (television and a major sporting event), in contrast with the main players in the market.

Based on these two examples, we could perhaps reasonably arrive at two conclusions.

  1. The logic of unconventional marketing seem to find new creative juice in a digital environment.
  2. The assumption in both campaigns of the ideal customer‘s point of view, from which to move for the design of a branding process, means bringing the consumer back to the heart of marketing (young families in the first case and millennials in the second). Communication returns to humanization: far from being inert targets, people provide insight from which to start and actively contribute to brand storytelling (especially in the consideration phase).

To conclude, let’s now try to explore the second conclusion using the set of tools provided by Hubspot.

Investing in humanizing business and marketing: personalization and unconventional marketing

Brand awareness is probably a vague, elusive concept, still difficult to measure in quantitative terms. It is not a metric in the strict sense but it is an objective reality of incredible value: it promotes establishing a relationship of trust, creates positive associations with everyday reality, and produces brand equity.

Building a solid brand awareness is a fundamental requirement for the authenticity of the story, which must be reflected in the lives of consumers. Stories through which the brand becomes recognizable must be shared, and they must also be able to resonate in the mediasphere in different formats, across multiple channels. In essence, it is a matter of interacting with the target audience in forms that involve imagination, participation, and loyalty; it is a matter of personalizing your marketing strategies by choosing to invest in the processes of humanizing the business (communication & sales).

The data speaks for itself: 98% of marketers say that personalization helps develop deeper relationships with customers, 74% say that it has a “strong” impact. Nearly 9 out of 10 marketers (88%) say that their prospects, leads or customers increasingly expect a personalized experience. To retain them, all communications must be able to attract their attention, and firstly to intercept them, they need to be involved with the content they actually want or need, which is presented in a way that meets their expectations. In other words: the frontier of communication is, once again, personalization.

Doxee has developed a solution, Doxee Pvideo®, which helps companies offer their users an experience that is perfectly tailored to them. Doxee Pvideo® allows you to create video clips that can engage customers and stimulate their interest with interactive content, focused on the topics of greatest relevance to you. With Doxee Pvideo®, you can participate in the creation of real stories using animated graphics that contain voice overs, text overlays, images, and audio specifically designed with you, for your customer.

This tendency to personalize not only concerns consumers (who need in-depth information) but also impacts the perception that a brand wants to give back to itself: offering a more human image, consistent with corporate values can trigger a customer’s sense of proximity and identification with the brand.

New call-to-action