5 of Social Media’s Big Winners in 2013

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The past year has seen a number of failed and successful social media campaigns. And when it comes to the ever-elusive ROI of social media, it really depends on your company’s idea of success metrics.

Are you looking to increase attendance at events, bump up sales or increase brand loyalty, awareness or engagement? All of these are relative to a company’s bottom line, and a successful push from social media can point you in the right direction.
Here are a few of 2013’s best that helped raise the bar and tip the ROI scale.

1. Real Beauty Sketches

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Although the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign debuted in 2005 – the brain child of New York ad agency Ogilvy & Mather – in 2013 the company unveiled a new campaign to show women their true beauty with “Real Beauty Sketches.” The YouTube video series of “Sketches” asks women to describe themselves to an FBI-trained sketch artist and later had a stranger they just met describe them to the same artist. The strangers’ descriptions were markedly more flattering and affirming than the self-descriptions, which focused heavily on the women’s biggest flaws.

ROI: 4.3 billion PR impressions in one month after one appearance on “Today” and two stories in The Huffington Post. And according to an article in Advertising Age, “IRI data show Dove’s U.S. sales up 1% in the four weeks ended May 19, right after the April 14 ‘Sketches’ release. That compares with a 3% rise to $1.5 billion for the full year.”

2. Dunking in the Dark

The first ever Super Bowl blackout this year left players, broadcasters and viewers wondering what to do during the half-hour wait. Fortunately for Oreo, the company had already run one of the Super Bowl’s $3.8 million 30-second ads, so the creative agency (360i) and social media managers were on hand to monitor online feedback. Once the blackout hit, they immediately took advantage of an unprecedented situation.

The company’s tweet “Power out? No problem” displayed a dimly light Oreo cookie with the tagline “You can still dunk in the dark.” Thanks to today’s second-screen life, the tweet immediately became a social media hit.

ROI: According to Advertising Age, within an hour, Oreo’s message was retweeted 15,811 times and received 19,610 Facebook likes, along with “boatloads of positive free media coverage that lasted for days.”

Though it wasn’t clear if the Super Bowl ad or the well-timed tweet increased sales of Oreo cookies, it did put Oreo well ahead of other brands and brought about a new buzzword, culture-jack, defined as “timing a response to a widespread cultural event.”

3. A Subtle Ad Integration

In November 2013, Verizon announced a whopping $1B partnership with the National Football League that also included check-in ads on geo-based social media platform Foursquare. When fans check into FedEx Field (Washington Redskins), M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore Ravens) or Gillette Stadium (New England Patriots) and clicked to the Verizon FiOS mobile landing page, they were entered into team contests to win seat upgrades, sideline passes, etc.

ROI: Verizon’s location-based check-in on Foursquare is still too new to provide any financial data or impressions. However, given the fact that the initial test for the Verizon FiOS ads will be held in the markets of Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Boston, Verizon has the opportunity to tap into three large captive audiences. The stadiums can accommodate 91,704; 71,008; and 68,756 fans, respectively. Plus, in an age where social media ad integration is often condemned, Foursquare somehow managed to fly under the radar.

4. French Mustard Goes Viral

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Let’s face it: condiments aren’t sexy. We can only imagine how difficult it is for Grey Poupon to market mustard. But ad agency CP+B found a way to cleverly get their French mustard onto consumers’ shopping lists. The company decided to revamp their 1981 commercial featuring two stuffy aristocrats sharing the condiment. In a commercial during the Oscars, Grey Poupon aired the “Lost Footage” of the 1981 mustard exchange, which concluded on YouTube.

ROI: The primary gain of the viral video was to bring Grey Poupon into the 21st century. According to Adweek, “On Oscar night, Grey Poupon sent 254 tweets, got 454 retweets and 5,700 total brand mentions, and picked up 414 new followers… A total of 363 media outlets, including Good Morning America, picked up the story, earning Grey Poupon 144 million impressions—2.5 times the 55 million it actually bought.” Not only did the viral hit reintroduce Grey Poupon to viewers, but it cemented the public’s opinion of the brand as humorous, witty, and always in good taste.

5. Taking a Stand


One of the most visible campaigns of the year wasn’t run by an ad agency, but by a civil rights organization. The Human Rights Campaign’s Facebook movement for users to change their profile photos to the red equal sign in support of marriage equality spread like wildfire on timelines across the country. The campaign accompanied real-life demonstrations outside of the Supreme Court on March 26th.

ROI: According to Facebook, 120% more users changed their profile pictures that Tuesday than on the previous Tuesday, and the logo received 10 million impressions, 189,177 shares, 95,725 likes and appeared more than 18 million times in News Feeds. More impressively, the Facebook movement showed the public’s overwhelming backing of marriage equality, which may have persuaded lawmakers to vote differently on the topic.

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3 comments
AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin moderator

I love all of these instances Alexis, but I think I give Oreo the slight lead because NOTHING beats quick witted-ness.    Great post.