Book of Tens: Best Non-TV Campaigns of the Decade

The Staff of Creativity Looks Back at Marketers That Broke Free of TV

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20TH Century Fox went bigger than Homer's belly for its 2008 launch of "The Simpsons Movie." Steered by then exec VP-global partnerships Lisa Licht (now at Hasbro), it tapped agencies such as Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Tracy Locke and Equity Marketing, and secured marketing partnerships with the likes of Burger King, 7-Eleven and JetBlue. The campaign brought Springfield to the real world and created a pop-culture moment perhaps bigger than the film itself. BK launched its popular Simpsonizer site, which transformed visitors into Simpsons-style characters; 7-Eleven stores were made over into real-life Kwik-E-Marts that sold pink sprinkled donuts and KrustyO's cereal; JetBlue became "The Official Airline of Springfield"; and a partnership with USA Today led to a search to find the Springfield among the U.S. towns with that name.

After Fallon, Minneapolis, launched this campaign for BMW, agencies and marketers around the world were inspired -- or perhaps daunted -- by the challenge of coming up with an equally impactful idea. The agency heralded in print and TV the debut of what appeared to be a major motion picture. Turned out, viewers were being steered to and five big-budget online shorts starring Clive Owen as a chauffeur in charge of some seriously high-maintenance clientele. The shorts had all the bells and whistles of a big Hollywood show, thanks to production company Anonymous Content, which assembled a team of A-List directors such as Wong Kar-Wai, Ang Lee and Guy Ritchie under executive producer David Fincher. By the time BMW was ready to launch part two, "The Hire" had racked up 13 million views.

How do you like your chicken? BK was willing to serve it up any way its customers wanted in this game-changing online effort out of Crispin Porter & Bogusky and The Barbarian Group. Combining a great character idea, porn-inspired seediness and the interactive possibilities of the web, the site invited visitors to type their commands to a chicken-suited actor, who would deign to do (almost) anything they wanted. The site became a veritable internet sensation and marked a milestone in BK's evolution from burger also-ran to, dare we say, entertainment brand.

What is advertising? What are agencies supposed to do? R/GA, New York made those questions even fuzzier with the launch of Nike Plus, a groundbreaking product application that leveraged Nike's sports legacy and Apple's design expertise to elevate both the solo and community aspects of running. Nike Plus is basically a seamless data transfer system: a runner's stats are transmitted from his Plus-enabled shoe to his iPod and can then be uploaded to the Nike Plus website. There, the athlete can chart his progress against the larger community of Nike Plus runners, and even start competitions with them. The site also hosted other useful apps, such as one that used Google maps to help runners find new trails to run in their own hood or abroad.

Who needs a cheap plastic figurine when you can have hours of fun with a video game? Actually, make that three video games. In 2006, building off the equity of The King character, the ever-reticent and slightly demonic big head that pounced on the hungry when they least expected it, Crispin partnered with U.K. game developer Blitz and U.S. promotions firm Equity Marketing to create "King Games," a trio of BK-branded Xbox titles starring The King and a host of other Crispin created characters: Sneak King, Pocketbike Racer and Big Bumpin'. The games were sold at BK franchises for $3.99 with the purchase of a Value Meal, and sales reached the millions.UNICEF: The Tap Project

For agencies, social responsibility doesn't have to begin and end with a pro bono campaign. Droga5 proved that with The Tap Project, an out-of-the-box idea that asked New York diners on just one day of the year, March 22 -- the U.N.'s World Water Day -- to pay $1 for a glass of branded tap water at their favorite restaurants, with all the profits going to UNICEF to secure clean drinking water for third world countries. The idea was born out of a challenge from Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger to the agency's Creative Chairman David Droga -- who had been featured in the mag's 2006 Best and Brightest issue -- to create his own brand. Today, Tap has turned into an annual, countrywide movement with agencies throughout the U.S. helping to promote the cause in their respective cities.

Although BMW Films before it showed that campaigns don't need a huge TV component to succeed, Crispin Porter & Bogusky's push for the brand's Mini marque showed you don't need one at all. Eschewing TV, the effort started a genuine "Let's Motor" movement. It featured cleverly captioned print ads and stunts that challenged the SUV set head on: "The SUV backlash officially starts now," read one billboard, while one guerilla idea toured a MINIthroughout key markets -- riding atop a Ford Excursion. Other components included web films, a MINI Playboy centerfold shot by an official Playboy photographer, a barf bag mag insert that alluded to the thrill of riding in the car and the MINI Book of Motoring, which explained the philosophy behind the brand "motoring" concept.

Created by Wieden & Kennedy, New York, Orlando's GMD Studios and "Blair Witch" creators The Haxans, this augmented reality game promoting Sega's "ESPN Football" centered around the character Beta7, a tester for the game who would black out and tackle strangers after using its "First Person Football" feature. B7 told his story on a website, entreating other gamers to prevent the title's release. The experience unfolded further in newspaper ads, TV and stunts -- including the shutdown of the original Beta7 site, all of which kept gamers tuned in for more than 20 times longer than the web average, and translated to about 2.25 million views. It also introduced a unique ad-production model -- the agency and directors launched campaign elements on the fly in response to followers' feedback.

Where would the last 10 years of advertising be without Mr. Footlong Hotdog Inventor and Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer? We'd rather not imagine it. DDB, Chicago's Real American Heroes (changed to Real Men of Genius after 9/11) campaign ranks not just among the best of the decade, but of all time. The long-running effort started as a series of radio spots that were later turned into TV ads saluting America's unsung champions with '80's style bombast -- music sung by Survivor frontman Dave Bickler, and voiceovers by Pete Stacker, a long-time voice of traditional beer ads. But most important, the work was fueled by some of the industry's smartest and most memorable copywriting: "Today we salute you, Mr. Footlong Hotdog Inventor. You gave every single one of us our fondest wish -- a bigger weiner."

Part of Unilever/Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty," this industry-shaking web film sought to strip away the artifice of beauty marketing as a whole by revealing the painstaking step-by-step process it takes to turn an otherwise attractive model into a billboard-worthy bombshell -- from hair and makeup to lighting and extreme retouching. The ultimate message, however, was that the industry as we know it sucks the real beauty out of already attractive women -- and Dove was taking a firm stand against the status quo. The film went truly viral, earning 6 million plus hits and plenty of attention on shows like Good Morning America and The View -- translating to about $150 million worth of media time.

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