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4 Unconventional Marketing Campaigns That Demanded Media Attention — and What Your Brand Can Learn From Them Unconventional marketing campaigns can generate significant media buzz and public interest, often surpassing the impact of traditional strategies. By leveraging creativity and unique approaches, brands can captivate audiences and keep conversations going long after the campaigns have ended.

By Erica McMillan Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • Unconventional marketing campaigns don't just gather media attention — they demand it.
  • The viral campaigns highlighted in this article succeeded by offering creative solutions to common pain points, stepping away from corporate professionalism, leveraging the power of marketing events, repurposing marketing wins and focusing on humanity.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Out-of-the-box thinkers in marketing have attracted massive media attention throughout the years, creating masterpieces that have captivated audiences and kept the public talking about brands and their products. While traditional marketing strategies are always reliable, non-traditional campaigns can deliver a much higher reward when brands use them correctly.

Every once in a while, a company turns a creative idea into the next hot topic for online chatter and workplace conversation. These viral campaigns teach us that unconventional approaches can amass media attention quickly and for many years after!

Related: From Zero to Viral — 4 Marketing Campaigns That Shook the Web in 30 Days

Offer customers creative solutions like the Heinz insurance policy

Creativity mixed with tongue-in-cheek humor for this viral campaign orchestrated by one of the biggest names in food products. With their new "insurance policy," Heinz promises to help customers who are coping with ketchup-related accidents by turning every mess into an opportunity.

It is no surprise that this product offering went viral. It addresses a common pain point for Heinz consumers while enhancing the customer experience, and it presents a hilarious solution to keep people talking. Every customer base has relatable industry problems. Offering innovative solutions with an unexpected twist can make your brand the obvious choice over competitors.

Step away from corporate professionalism like Manscaped's Snooker commercial

British humor is known to be just a little racy to garner a few laughs from an audience, which is why Manscaped asked British comedian Charlie Partridge to play the star in their Lawn Mower 4.0 Snooker commercial. In this viral commercial, Partridge delivers a collection of double entendres aimed to make light of the brand's personal care products.

The personal care product industry is known for using indirect marketing ploys to address private matters, but this commercial kept audiences talking and certainly demonstrated a clear understanding of its target audience. The commercial's clever script shows how beneficial it can be for modern brands to push professionalism aside and be brazen with their audiences in today's bold world. It might not be the right fit for every potential consumer, but it will certainly generate buzz and encourage sharing, which can help your brand secure more sales.

Related: This Is the Unconventional Marketing Tactic Small Businesses Need to Try

Leverage the power of viral marketing events like Refinery29's 29Rooms

First founded in 2005, Refinery29 has spent nearly two decades centering itself as an authority in pop culture and public relevancy. Their 29Rooms experience was a series of events designed to combine the traditional party scene with a viral social media focus, further establishing the brand as a clear leader in all things cool.

At the traveling experiences, Refinery29 prioritized entertainment and art, as well as politics and style. Attendees were able to see captivating displays from talented modern artists, catering to the growing interest in smaller creators while providing a high-quality backdrop for viral social media content.

The exhibition drew attention to the Refinery29 brand, all while helping its audience celebrate shared spaces again after a challenging year of pandemic isolation. Marketing events can be standalone events, but Refinery29 shows us that more complex events that span across dates and locations can be a worthy investment that facilitates a deeper connection with an audience. These events bring people together and keep their focus on your brand, especially when the events are culturally relevant and designed for a social-media-obsessed world.

Repurpose marketing wins like the Red Bull Stratos project

Known for helping its customers reach new heights, Red Bull garnered massive media attention with the Red Bull Stratos project, which centered around a historic high-altitude jump with Austrian parachutist Felix Baumgartner, who leaped into the air from over 120,000 feet using special equipment and a one-of-a-kind suit to keep him safe in an otherwise unwelcoming environment.

Throughout the years, Red Bull has gained further attention from the media for this stunt and even captured public interest again with its 2018 release of Mission to the Edge of Space, a documentary that offers an inside look into the project. Repurposing successful marketing campaigns to generate new interest and capture more attention down the line can be a powerful move, allowing your brand to do more with less.

Keep the focus on people like Lululemon's Proud & Present

The Lululemon brand has always had a mix of media attention, receiving both praise from customers and criticism for a lack of inclusivity throughout the years. In 2019, the brand took a big step forward with the help of creatives from Working Not Working to craft an inclusive new campaign that put aside traditional marketing and instead allowed voices from marginalized communities to be heard in public spaces and online.

The "Proud & Present" campaign was centered around honesty and offered a distinctly human spotlight. Brands can learn a lot from this campaign. Not only did the campaign creatively address one of the primary criticisms that had plagued the company in recent years, but it also showed a nuanced understanding of the public interest in raw, real content.

In an age where people share their truths in posts online every day, the average consumer is less interested in perfectly tailored marketing content and more interested in content that reflects an understanding of the human experience and consumer needs. Placing humanity at the center of your brand campaign can help your audience feel seen and heard, generating deeper levels of trust and increasing brand loyalty.

Related: 10 Genius Marketing Campaigns That Went Viral

Marketing is a year-round commitment for brands, and in many cases, traditional marketing is a fine match. However, unconventional campaigns can attract a lot of publicity and keep talking for years, even if all that is left of them is a YouTube clip or a social media post.

Generating buzz is much easier when marketers give the public something to buzz about, and a less traditional approach is an excellent way to capture their attention and imagination.

Erica McMillan

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Serial Entrepreneur, Online Visibility Strategist, Artist

Erica McMillan is a 10-time Founder, CEO, Serial Business Entrepreneur, Contemporary Artist, a member of the Forbes Business Council, Publicist, modern-Marketing Brand Consultant, Online Visibility Strategist and founder of the largest invitation-only private media relations network.

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