Video-based online game builds awareness for 3M

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3M is a well-known brand, but few people realize that the St. Paul, Minn.-based company sells more than 50,000 different products and has seven business divisions targeting businesses as well as consumers. "Awareness is pretty strong, but familiarity [of what we offer] is not as diverse," said Andrew Lock, 3M's U.K. marketing communication manager. "Our business problem was that people don't realize that we can solve as many problems as we can."

Last April, 3M, in conjunction with online agency AKQA, launched a six-month, £130,000 Flash-based banner ad campaign targeted at engineers and health and safety purchasing managers, among others, in the U.K. The campaign used a 60-second video clip of a businessman heading out on a trip.

As the man moved through his day-looking in a mirror and getting into a taxi, for example-ad viewers were challenged to spot instances where 3M products could be used. The fast-moving game asked users to direct a small bull's-eye over potential 3M innovations, such as the mirror (3M manufactures a high-performance cleaning cloth) and the businessman's smile (the company also manufactures dental products).

"We were using video to talk about the problems 3M solves," Lock said. "There were references to 15 3M innovations embedded in the video. If you found at least 10 you were entered into a monthly drawing. There was another drawing if you found all 15."

The 3M campaign was served to more than 1 million impressions and sent out via e-mail to 40,000 people. It garnered 5,000 unique users. Of that group, more than 88% went on to play the game, Lock said. On average, 60% of those who played the game attempted it more than once and spent about nine minutes on the ad's landing page. Even more important, 80% of those players said the ad had a positive impact on their familiarity with the 3M brand.

"We got feedback from our survey that people found our ad engaging and thought it was something we should be doing as a technology leader," Lock said.

Daniel Bonner, creative lead, executive director for AKQA, London, said this type of innovative design is something b-to-b marketers should be thinking about.

"There's an assumption that everything in the b-to-b world has to be dry and to the point," Bonner said. "This constrains creativity. We wanted to take what the 3M brand means-being brave and first on the market-and let [that] show through the marketing."

The ad was so exciting, Lock said, that the company used it for an in-house contest for its employees, which created internal buzz. Moving forward, 3M will create an off-line version of the ad, too, he said.

"This is a good tool for our salespeople when they go out on new calls," he said. "It gets people excited about 3M." 

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