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Popcorn: The Best of Global Digital Marketing

On the 26th March 2015, Digital Doughnut brought marketers together to showcase some of the finest digital marketing campaigns of recent years.  Ranging from the USA to China, global brands to SMEs, the Popcorn afternoon event in Leicester Square provided insights from all around the world.

A team from PharmiWeb Solutions attended the event to gain insight into innovations in digital marketing, cultural differences and the potential societal change surrounding them. Each campaign addressed a challenge in the market and aimed to provide a solution for this in creative and interactive ways. Here are our highlights;

Café Amazon

The largest coffee shop chain in Thailand created a campaign with the objective of addressing high accident levels by diverting sleepy drivers to one of their 650 stops via an app.  Built with advanced eye tracking technology, the app could detect if the driver dowsed off, and would wake the driver with the loud noise of a squawking parrot.  Promoting the app through social media, downloads were high and results showed that 85% of drivers were routed to the nearest Café Amazon stop, successfully waking over 10,000 drivers.  The holiday season of the release showed accidents were down by 15% displaying clear results combined with an increase in sales for Café Amazon.  Although this worked in Thailand, it is wise to mention that Café Amazon took a high risk by implying they condone driving whilst tired. In the UK and many other countries, this would raise legality issues, potentially resulting in action from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

McDonalds Australia

Realised their ultimate challenge was to convince consumers that their ingredients were wholesomely sourced, as 50% of Australians don’t believe this.  The solution? McDonalds created an app, ‘Track my Macca’s’, in which they invested in over 188 million specially designed boxes using a combination of GPS and image recognition technology to pin point where the ingredients had come from.  By telling a story of each customer’s meal, Dylan Harrison, heading the campaign from DDB Sydney, stated “if you want someone to believe something let them discover it for themselves”. The object for McDonald’s was to convey complete transparency of their supply chain, in which customers could meet the bakers, fishmongers  and farmers and encourage users to share their findings. However, many pointed out holes in McDonald’s transparency strategy, in that the processes which the ingredients go through make consumers mistrust the company. Members of the audience stated that for McDonalds even to be seen to be medicating against distrust alone was enough of a success.  With 660 million impressions of global PR coverage in the first month, McDonalds conveyed their message, with 25% of users experiencing the full journey through a 3D augmented world.Without pre and post campaign metrics, this initiative is yet to be proven.


From brand awareness to raising awareness of societal issues, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) created a campaign with the objective of highlighting how North Korean refugees are suffering in their midst with the ‘Invisible people’ campaign.   Held at the Seoul Museum of Art, using 3D printing to create mini models of real people, the UNHCR encouraged people to take part in a scavenger hunt using QR codes to reveal the story of each refugee. 48,000 people took part and 87% of these people donated to the cause.  The campaign focused on young people in the hope to target the next agenda setters and create a buzz, using social media channels, to raise awareness that indifference makes people invisible. 

This poses the question as to whether brands should have the permission to advocate societal change.

Coca Cola

Take Coca Cola for example; working with Leo Burnett they aimed to help bring two divided nations back together, with over 60 years apart in the campaign ‘Small World Machines’.  Focusing their efforts in New Delhi and Lahore, Coca Cola set up a live event, with 10,000 attendees; they used interactive vending machines that connected someone in New Delhi with someone in Lahore.  From tracing peace signs, love hearts and smiling faces to dancing and waving, they connected people from each region with the aim of “Opening Happiness”.  Some may say what right does Coca Cola have to position themselves in this manner and even go as far to say that they had ill intentions to benefit from divided nations.  However, if Coca Cola cannot act as a neutral mediator then who should?  With 700 connections across the border, 18 million Facebook and Twitter users and a 55% total reach coming from India and Pakistan, Coca Cola showed that taking minor steps can have the power to solve bigger issues thus becoming societal advocates for change.


Nivea on the other hand took a different stance with their Brazilian Campaign, ‘Where’s little Miguel?’ promoting a children’s product supported by an app for parents.  Everyone who has children will know the fear of their child wandering out of sight on a busy summer beach.  Nivea thought to provide the perfect solution for this using traditional press to distribute children’s wearables monitoring the distance from parent to child using radar technology.  They featured the wearable in over 10 magazine articles, in which parents could simply tear off the wrist band and then download the app, creating an extremely valuable utility for parents.  Even after the campaign had ended, parents continued to send requests for the bands, showing Nivea’s campaign really was “the right media, right utility, and right brand message at the right time for the right audience”. 

Lastly, to complete the afternoon a vote was cast evaluating the campaigns showcased throughout the day.  The winner revealed was based in Michigan, USA, with ‘Troy’ the public library campaign, showing that you don’t need a huge budget to create clever marketing campaigns.

Troy Public Library

The people of Michigan were asked to vote on whether to either accept a tax increase of 0.7% or vote no and close the Troy Public Library.  With no budget to help them defend the threat of closure, fighting against a well organised, well-funded anti-tax political party, they came up with the idea ‘A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books’.  Using reverse psychology marketing they created social media pages, merchandise and posted signs around the city promoting book burning parties.  The reaction was phenomenal, with people responding in disgust that anyone could consider burning books.  The campaign reached local, national and international news, where they announced the real message behind the campaign, much to the love of the public; showing that an emotional connection can often be the most powerful, winning hearts and minds.  The campaign managed to change the conversation from taxes to library, in a time when the USA was suffering recession and went on to win the vote by a landslide with voting attendance being 342% greater than projected.  Check out full details of the campaign here.

All these companies have one thing in common; they used innovative technology and creatives, promoted by a social media buzz to make their campaigns a success.  From wearable tech, 3D printing, to some interesting in app theme tunes, they made a memorable and/or entertaining impact to their target audiences.

What can be applied to pharma from all this? Get in touch to see what we think..

11th May 2015