The Best Ads Are Made With Heart

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Last year, more than ever, Colossal campaigns were designed for people.

To reach those people, brands humanized themselves. They completely overhauled their outdoor ads, using them to transform anonymous corporations into relatable organizations. Doing so made them capable of creating deep, lasting, emotional connections.

The reaction was inspiring. I saw so many more people stopping to take photos. I saw so many photos sparking conversations on social media. The engagement with Colossal walls was so overwhelming that it convinced me to produce two unbranded videos, completely out of pocket, for fun, to capture the energy.

Williamsburg engagement video
Bushwick nightlife video

Seeing that interaction was a reward in itself. But I also watched clients bring in huge returns on their investments when they positioned themselves within those conversations. They turned their audience members into influencers — a move that’s going to be so important as organic content loses momentum.

There are lots of lessons we can learn from their success stories. Here are some great, simple building blocks you can use to create your own memorable advertising experience.

Gucci mural in SoHo, painted by Colossal Media

1. Be Humble

The number one thing top performers have in common is that the brands didn’t hog the spotlight with blatant ad copy. Instead, they either kept it neutral or they partnered with relevant artists, organizations, or brands to create something unique.

That strategy works because it makes your message feel less sales-y. You’re speaking to your audience in a genuine tone, which makes it so much easier for people to feel an affinity for your brand.

It can be a gutsy move, but can really pay off. Case in point: Gucci.

Gucci commissioned artists from all over the world for the Gucci Art Wall. At first, press and fashion influencers got the word out, but now the interest is totally self-sustaining thanks to beautiful works of art, an iconic location in SoHo, and, importantly, modest branding.

To date, the Art Wall has reached 16 million people on the street and over 206 million on social media. It’s even listed as a museum on Google Maps!

Mural for Freeform, hand painted by Colossal Media

2. Say something meaningful

A powerful statement can take your campaign the extra mile — especially in times like these, when people feel the strongest connection to brands that stand for something.

Freeform did this right with their mural for The Bold Type. The copywriting flipped an outdated gender norm on its head and created a viral, Instagrammable moment. Every single day, people stopped to take photos. And every single night, when crowds gathered at the bars across the street, people literally lined up to pose with that mural!

Powerful numbers support the bold move: Freeform paid for 400,000 out of home impressions and earned over 5,700,000 organic social impressions.

3. Tell a story

More and more clients have been asking us for videos, animations, and GIFs, reflecting a trend towards even more content marketing in 2018. It’s a great way to tell a digital story that’s both authentic and branded.

The best of this content doesn’t try to sell. It’s just good entertainment. Look at what Everlane and Mike’s Hard Lemonade did: they’re not sales pitches; they’re actually fun to watch. They feel organic.

But always make sure your content is made with results in mind. Think: where will you use your content? Who do you want to see it? What feelings do you want to evoke from the audience?

Lincoln is a great example. It’s in the middle of a multi-year rebrand, repositioning itself as a younger, warmer company. They asked us to create behind-the-scenes photos and videos they could use in Instagram stories. That digital content, combined with the brand’s dedicated hashtags, opened up a conversation with an entirely new audience.

Delta and Tinder team up with Colossal Media in Brooklyn

Photo courtesy of Kristin Gladney

4. Give the people what they want

At the end of the day, people just want to be treated like people. They have needs. They want those needs satisfied. So if your goal is engagement, make sure you’re providing real value.

Delta did a great job of this with the Delta Dating Wall . Their value-add was a classic one: helping people get dates.

Engagement was immediate. People started snapping photos while our crew finished each vignette. The #DeltaDatingWall hashtag exploded on social media. And the numbers are truly impressive: on top of 1.65 million out of home impressions, Delta raked in 16 million impressions on Twitter, 400,000 completed video views on Facebook, and record-breaking engagement on Tinder (2–3x higher than other relevant brands).

Your takeaway here is simple: think about your audience!

Chase GIF

That’s A Wrap

Remember: Don’t be afraid to step outside your brand’s comfort zone. The best ideas are simple, offbeat, and fun. And above all else, be human.

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