Considering that billions of people around the world who use social networks speak a language other than English, it's no surprise that social-media marketing successes aren't limited to the United States. This week in San Francisco, the Bees Awards recognized some of the most innovative international players from 33 countries. Ad Age spotlights three social-media campaigns that demonstrate unusual and successful means brands used to get recognition and customers.
What is it?: The Chinese Forest Gump, Canon's 2010 Beijing International Marathon campaign. Winner of Best Use of Micro-Blogging category.
Who created it? Weber Shandwick, China
Why it worked: To promote Canon's fourth year of sponsoring the 30th Beijing International Marathon, the agency came up with the concept of a real-life version of Forrest Gump who invites people on the street to take a run with him. The Chinese runner -- who ran non-stop during the day -- used Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-style platform, to post his location and other updates. His messages became so popular that Canon created an official account to handle the overflow and communicate with people who replied to his posts and asked questions. He was invited to run in the marathon, creating more buzz and ending up as a big story in traditional media outlets as well as online and on Weibo.
The campaign was designed to embody Canon China's slogan -- which translates to "Delighting You Always." By joining technology to real-life events, the campaign used social media in a relevant way that was clearly successful -- all over Beijing's streets.
What is it? T-Mobile: Taking Facebook to the Streets, a finalist in the Best Use of Alternative tools category.
Who created it? Saatchi & Saatchi, Hungary
Why it worked: Saatchi used Facebook and 800 magic markers to promote T-Mobile in Budapest. An entire T-Mobile Facebook page was brought to the streets in the form of a 13-foot tall billboard -- but it was no typical LCD display. Instead, artists created analog versions of users' Facebook status updates by hand on the paper billboard, including replicas of their profile pictures, with the 800 markers. The billboard's location in a busy Budapest square created huge buzz, enticing passersby to access Facebook on their cell phones, post to the project's Facebook page, and watch their status being recreated right in front of them. The ads that normally appear on the right-hand side of a Facebook page described T-Mobile products.
The campaign combined the technology inherent in social networking with IRL ("in real life") experiences. It employed some of the best traits of social media, like the invite to consumers to participate, to help them get to know the brand and have fun. The mix of digital and analog kept users interested and wanting more. The magic-marker action was amplified and scaled through the web, with a live-stream of the event posted on the Facebook page, alongside T-Mobile messaging. And the throw-back magic markers add an interesting statement on modern times, harking back to the days when we wrote everything with pen and paper.
What is it?: Brazil's Crowdsourced Car. Winner of Best Use of Social Media category.
Who created it? AgenciaClick Isobar, Brazil
Why it worked? Fiat combined social media and reality in an unprecedented way to launch the first-ever crowdsourced car. In this campaign, Fiat built a forum at http://www.fiatmio.cc -- its own social network, so to speak -- and created a space for dialog between the designers of the car and Fiat drivers. The members of the community were invested in the final results of the campaign -- a real live car called the Fiat Mio. Consumers answered questions about gadget integration and what kind of driving the Mio should be planned for, as well as the ultimate crowdsourced car question -- should it be connected to the social web?
The car was launched to great fanfare at the 26th Annual Automobile Show in Sao Paulo. By telling Fiat exactly what they wanted in a car and using social media to do it, consumers believed they were helping to shape the future of the industry. A brand message gains effectiveness when customers are engaged -- and this is the ultimate engagement, giving the consumer a hand in creating the product.
The project, Fiat said, drew 10,000 suggestions and was a process of "learning again how to make an automobile." Even though the campaign was designed and implemented in Brazil, it reached at least 17,000 people in 160 countries, with an English-language version as well as one in Brazilian Portuguese. The campaign lived across the web, including YouTube, where a series of videos that documented the project can be viewed.