Benefits from Earned Media Campaigns
What is earned media? Earned media is when a business tries to optimize on a targeted fans social circle. Instead of paying for traditional mass marketing, the business only initially pays and plans for a select group of people to actually see the advertisement or promotional event they implement. The business hopes that the advertisement or event is so sensational the consumers that do see it will go posts about it on their personal social media platforms. This means that all the people who see it and post about it will expose the marketing to the people that follow their social media accounts. This is why it’s called “earned” media because the content is so good that individuals want to post about it, which then gives a business “earned” fans they did not pay to target but who will see the advertisement anyway.
Earned media could have a huge impact on a businesses’ digital marketing. It really takes advantage of the critical role that social media plays into everyone’s daily lives. Usually it’s fun and creative content that ends up gaining earned media. Take a look at the list below for some of the best earned media examples of all time!
Charmin Ultra’s Time Square Campaign
Imagine: you are walking through the hustle and bustle of Time Square in New York City, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United States. You are gazing around at the Broadway show and tech company billboards and then you see it…..Nope, not the famous Time Square New Years Eve Ball. Instead, it’s the blue billboard with the well-known Charmin bear doing his little dance. Underneath him you see “Restrooms.” A public restroom in Time Square. During the holiday season in 2006, Charmin decided to create a pop-up bathroom in Time Square. Busy shoppers and tourists found not just a public bathroom, but instead a whole bathroom experience. In fact, visitors could even get their picture taken with that famous Charmin bear and do the little potty dance with him if they so desired. This pop-up store did not just earn the Charmin brand attention among the bathroom visitors, but it ended up giving the brand huge earned media across the country. In fact, Charmin saw an increase in its sales for 3 whole months after the event!
Check out the link to find out more about this event: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/business/media/15adco.html?_r=0
McDonald’s Shamrock Shake in the Chicago River
Every year for St. Patrick’s Day the Chicago River turns green, literally. Tons of green dye is dumped into the river to get the whole city really in the spirit to celebrate. What’s another great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? A McDonald’s Shamrock Shake of course. So what better way than to combine the two! This is exactly what McDonald’s does. Every year the fast-food joint places a jumbo replica of a Shamrock Shake on the edge of the river so it looks like it is getting poured in and turning it green. This not only grabs the attention of city dwellers, but it also grabs the attention to all the city dwellers Facebook friends when they see the pictures of a giant green milkshake being dumped into the Chicago River.
Check out the link to find out more about this event:
ALS – Ice Bucket Challenge
Earned media does not have to be a specific event. It can be an overall campaign or trend. This is what the ALS foundation did to raise money and awareness. This Ice Bucket Challenge campaign got everyone from your next-door neighbor, to your boss, to your little cousin involved. People across the nation partook in dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and posting it to social media in support of ALS. The campaign itself raised over $100 million dollars in donations! Not to mention an immense amount of increased awareness regarding ALS. That’s what you get when every other post on people’s Facebook feeds is someone getting a bucket of ice dumped on them.
Check out the link to find out more about the earned media from this campaign:
Coca-Cola – #ShareACoke
If you didn’t Instagram a picture with your name on the Coca-Cola can did it even exist? That is essentially what happened with this campaign. Although the idea of “Share a Coke” comes from the actual product, the exposure the brand gained through earned media is astonishing. People even began using these cans for baby name reveals on social media! The campaign increased Coca-Cola sales by a noticeable amount, which leads me to believe people must have been sharing a Coke with some previously loyal Pepsi drinkers.
Hopefully now you are inspired by some of these great earned media examples. It can be very economical to an advertising budget because you do not have to pay a large sum for a large number of individuals to see it. Moving forward in the digital age, I highly recommend you start to brainstorm ways your own business could take advantage of earned media. If you are still interested in looking at other ways companies have used earned media, check out this link.
Sarah Stringham is a senior majoring in marketing with a minor in digital studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is pursuing a career in business-to-business marketing and sales upon graduation.