Marketing that Interrupts for Good

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Author: Damien Le Castrec, Strategist, BBH London

One type of post shouts out above the noise of our crowded social timelines: good causes. The Ice Bucket Challenge and #nomakeupselfie have been hard to ignore in 2014.

Social media is a fertile environment for good causes. They give users the opportunity to look good by spreading good, and for organisations to promote themselves.

Although ‘clicktivism’ and ‘hashtag campaigning’ is a relatively fresh move for charities, it has a lot in common with a more traditional model: interruption marketing.

Interruption marketing stops people while they’re consuming content in a broadcast environment, to “force” them to watch commercials. As social media platforms shift towards a ‘paid for’ model, behaving more like broadcast media, it is only natural that marketing attempts to interrupt content consumption here too.

But a few weeks ago we launched a new charity campaign, with a different take on interruption marketing.

INTERRUPTING INTENTIONS

The recent fame of these social media campaigns means that other forms of digital marketing are sometimes overlooked. There is a digital environment where causes can find more than a short span of attention and where they can tap into ‘The Database of Intentions’. It’s search.

We share more with Google than we do with our closest friends, and as any good friend, search engines have the opportunity to influence these shared intentions.

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Social media gives causes mass attention and a burst of fame, while search offers specific intentions and the power to influence them. Search might not make the cause as famous in the short term as a broadcast burst; by definition, it is only targeting a limited group of people. But it can unlock genuine change and perhaps allow for a more prolonged campaign.

One million searches for elephant riding take place every year. We designed a campaign to interrupt this intention.

STOPPING TOURISTS FROM SPENDING ON ANIMAL ENTERTAINMENT BEFORE THEY BOOK

Our idea was to give tourists information about animal entertainment when they are in the mindset of planning and researching a trip. So we created a search-led campaign that intercepts the million queries for elephant riding, to reveal the suffering that takes place behind the scenes.

This is a media behaviour that tour operators already leverage to promote themselves through paid search advertising. We decided to outbid them to bring the truth to the top of tourists’ search results pages.

To outbid real tour operators, we behave like one: buying the same ads, promoting the same kind of experiences, but with a difference: we tell the truth about animal entertainment.

Thanks to a carefully crafted bidding strategy, our search ads promoting “an authentic elephant ride” are the first result holidaymakers see. The link takes them to our fake tour operator video who reveals the way elephants are trained to force them to get used to the unnatural act of being ridden.

Tourists who could have been part of the problem can then become part of the solution by funding the search bidding (on a CPC basis, £3 will educate 280 tourists). Their donations will help to hold our video at the top of search results to educate more tourists like them.

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SEARCH: A NEW TAKE ON INTERRUPTION MARKETING.

  • Media consumption vs. active intention: Interruption marketing is traditionally based on interrupting people’s media behaviours. But search gives us the ability to interrupt the intentions we’re trying to influence.
  • Fame vs. relevance: Interruption marketing is usually an awareness-driven model where communications perform when remarkable. But in a search environment, the focus is on relevance.
  • Short-lived vs. long-term: Interruption marketing operates with a traditional “launch and forget” mindset. But with search, ads are triggered as long as they have a purpose.

Search offers new opportunities for creativity and performance, whether for causes or commercial brands. Let’s hope our industry isn’t too hooked on fame to embrace them like it should…

 

1 Response

  1. It’s a nice strategy, but surely you have to be 100% sure there are no totally ethical providers? Were you ever worried about the ‘big agency outspend and outsmarts’ small tourist company argument?

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