Top 10 Social Media Campaigns 2017

Top 10 Best AR Campaigns 2017 GenWowAwards_2017By now you know the drill about how social media is becoming a central component of virtually every integrated marketing campaign. And it's true.

While many of this year's GEN WOW AWARDS winners are indeed part of broader campaigns, our picks this time out tend to either be the primary channels used in the campaign, or are standalone efforts.

In fact, some of the most interesting entries this year were little more than simple tweets, even one-offs, that made an impact in the social media year that was.

#10 OLD SPICE: 'Simu-Date-Her'

This is the Facebook Live campaign your Facebook Live campaign would be—if it was Old Spice. In honor of Valentine's Day, Old Spice enabled Facebook users to control a real man and interact with a real woman on what passes for an almost life-like date in the social media age. Hilarious and sad at the same time.

#9  KFC: 11 Herbs & Spice (Girls)

KFC's Year of Major Madcap Marketing Stunts is coming to a close—and what a year it was. From a creepy animatronic drive-thru robot  to a Mother's Day romance novella that helped boost sales 40%, the Colonel has been flying his freak flag with pride - helping the brand extend 13 quarters of same-store sales growth since Q3 2014. But it may be a recent social media stunt that prompted Marketing Dive to name KFC its Marketer of the Year for 2017. In October, an astute Twitter user discovered that KFC's Twitter feed only follows  11 people—six people named "Herb" and the five members of the pop band Spice Girls. Makes you groan and smile at the same time. Kudos to KFC.


KFC's not the only QSR finding social media success this year. Wendy's scored big when a 17-year-old kid named Carter Wilkerson tweeted "Yo, @Wendy's how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?" The fast fooder's response: 18 million—or roughly 6X greater than the existing record: Ellen DeGeneres's Oscar Selfie. The kid made it happen—and did something remarkable along the way. He helped raise money and awareness for both foster care adoption and breast cancer research. For that, this Gen Wow award's as much for Carter than it is for Wendy's—and he deserves it.   

#7 MCDONALD'S: Snaplications

What's a year in social media without yet another fast food brand making our rankings. A perennial favorite, McDonald's earns a spot with its "Snaplications" campaign, an effort to recruit teens while turning them into free publicity machines on Snapchat. How? Through filters of course. According to the Verge, here's how it worked: Prospective employees could apply a McDonald's hat and name tag filter to their faces and record a 10-second video to pitch why they would make a great employee. Participants were then sent a link to the company's digital careers hub where they could download application form. It's unclear why anyone would go through the extra rigmarole, but it surely couldn't hurt their chances.

#6 DENNY'S: Serving Up a Modern Meme Masterpiece

Who knew Denny's could poke fun at our unhealthy obsession over each new social media sensation? In March, the restaurant chain posted one of those "zoom in" posts where you typically find some kind of banal promotional message. Only here, you got something else entirely—a scavenger hunt of sorts with a reveal that read: "Has this distracted you from overwhelming existential dread lol." As Adweek put it at the time: "Ouch, Denny's. Way to remind us that we're all just frittering away what few scan moments we have before our inevitable demise." It also generated nearly 3X more retweets than Oreo's famous "Dunk in the Dark" tweet. Definitely food for thought.

#3 ROYAL CARIBBEAN: #SeekDeeper Snapchat Scuba Goggles

As part of its #SeekDeeper campaign, Royal Caribbean outfitted three well-known divers with "SeaSeekers," custom scuba masks with built-in Snachat Spectacles. Beyond capturing footage on the migration of whale sharks, coral reef restoration and the Great Blue Hole in Belize, Adweek reports the cruise line hopes to equip its shops with these masks so guests can rent them out and instantly share their underwater adventures via Snapchat.

#5 AMERICAN GREETINGS: #GiveMeaning to Mother's Day—'Tattoo'  

You're going to feel this one. "Tattoo" is a Mother's Day video that follows a young woman as she gets her first tattoo and reveals its special meaning to her. This campaign is part of American Greeting's #GiveMeaning campaign designed to help people honor those who've mattered most to them. Read more here.

#4 HEINZ: Instagram #FoodPorn

Heinz's "Irresistible Posts" Instagram series used geolocation to target local users looking for stories around lunch time. If they swiped a Heinz post featuring mouthwatering creations form a celebrity chef, it triggered the ability to order the contents of the post, which Heinz delivered in a personalized box. Insta-success. And tasty, too.  

#2 HEINEKEN: #OpenYourWorld—'Worlds Apart'

The popular beer brand pulled off what Pepsi didn't seem able or well suited to do this year—mostly by not trivializing issues and by bringing people who are worlds apart a little closer. Oh, and by reinforcing the role Heineken actually plays in the world—as an ice breaker. Pretty powerful stuff, actually—meant to open up honest and open-minded online conversations instead of perpetuating partisan echo champers. We'll drink to that.

#1 AMEX: Guns & Roses Facebook Campaign

Sometimes it pays to listen. At least, that was the case with this Facebook campaign promoting a Guns & Roses concert. Knowing full well that 90 percent of Facebook users watch videos with audio turned off, AMEX snuck in a surprise. Those who activated audio got a surprise—a voice over that told them the first 50 to text in the name of the band's lead singer would win a free ticket to the concert. How might your brand incentivize people to view your video advertising?


With that, congrats to all of this year's winners. And look for social elements in other categories in coming days, as the 2017 GEN WOW AWARDS continue.

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Top 10 Augmented Reality Campaigns of 2017 (Video)

Top 10 Best AR Campaigns 2017 GenWowAwards_2017Augmented reality-based marketing initiatives seem to have lost some altitude in 2017 compared to recent years—and that's probably a good thing.

Once a "me-too" phenomenon, a growing number of brands' AR initiatives have a solid reason for being or are exceptionally well-suited to the target audience.

Indeed, though it's often mistakenly called "virtual reality" (sorry folks, AR and VR are still two different things), the former is expected to eventually eclipse the latter because of an endless number of possible applications.

With AR viewers now available in the checkout line at even the smallest gas-'n-sip, perhaps they'll hit the 3.7 million units projected to be shipped in the next year.

Whatever the case, when brands do AR right, it can be a blast. Here's a look at some of our picks for the year's best (at least so far):

#10: 'Let's Be Evil'

Okay, we're cheating here—there's nothing AR about the experience. Instead, it's a movie featuring a dystopian vision for our AR-infused future. Here, it's all from the POV of "Glassholes." We have not yet seen the movie, but the trailer was too fun to leave off our list.

#9: John Lewis 2017 '#MozTheMonster' Holiday Filter

Longtime readers know John Lewis often makes our annual "Best of Lists." And they almost always involve the British retailer's integrated holiday campaigns, which are always crowd pleasers. This time out,  spots featuring Moz the Monster (#MozTheMonster") and are amplified by a soft Moz took, branded mugs, PJs, storybook downloads and a Facebook AR selfie filter (alas, described by at least one pub as a VR filter, which it is not).

#8: 'Ghostbusters: Dimensions' AR Game

It's hard to tell how much of this is just video or actual gameplay, but this promo from THE VOID and Sony Pictures looks like a lot of fun. A couple of key points: THE VOID develops experiences for certain venues. This was not a game you could download and play on your own. It also underscores the difference between AR and VR. Both WIRED and The New York Times referred to this game as being VR. From the promotional video at least, it appears to be AR-based, which helps explain how people move through it without the disorientation that often comes with VR-based experiences. For those new to this, AR layers digital elements on top of the real world, while VR immerses the user in a 100% digital world or experience.

#7: M&M's AR Billboards

To help promote the launch of M&M's new caramel flavor, the ever-popular Mars candy transformed a dozen billboards into an AR arcade that people could access via mobile phone. According to ADWEEK, it resulted in more than 466 million consumer impressions. 

#6: The Forestry Commission: 'Grufallo Spotter' AR App

Pokémon Go's got nothing on England's Forestry Commission. Its "Grufallo Spotter" AR app got kids to get excited about the great outdoors by getting them engaged with fun characters and activities based on the best-selling picture book. Check out a behind-the-scenes look, here and read more, here.

#5: Netflix Season Two 'Stranger Things' AR Experience and Filter

Readers may know that we're big fans of "Stranger Things" (Be sure to check out the latest "Rick & Rick" Podcast's season two recaps here). We're also fans of Snapchat (and more recently, Facebook) AR filters as promotional devices. So we were doubly pleased with Netflix's AR and VR-based filters for Snapchat. On the AR side, the filter applies Eleven's signature nosebleed to your face. Just don't raise your eyebrows—or you're thrown into the Upside Down. In the VR side, you're planted in Joyce Byer's season one living room, complete with creepy message lights.  

#4 Snatch: Life's for the Taking AR Treasure Hunt

It's like Pokémon GO—with beer. Earlier this year, Dutch beer brand Amstel teamed up with the mobile AR treasure hunt app known as Snatch to give away 10,000 free pints to people who "snatch" and hold onto their prizes for up to six hours. In addition to the free bear, there were also 20 bikes at stake, as well as three free trips to Amsterdam. But honestly, they had us at "AR" and "beer." But those other prizes work, too. 

#3: Beatie Wolfe—World's First AR-Based Live Streaming Music Event

First there were the NFC-enabled album covers you could tap with your mobile phone to bring up a website featuring one of her singles. This year, Beatie Wolfe launched an augmented reality-based live streaming experience to promote her latest album, Raw Space.

#2: Gorillaz Augmented Reality App

You gotta love this campaign, which was awarded the Gold Lion at Cannes this year. As you enter the app, it superimposes elements from the make-believe band's albums onto your real-world surroundings, acting as gateways to an immersive Gorillaz House in celebration of the group's return after a seven-year hiatus. The festivities included more than 500 geo-located "House Parties" that saw 125,000 fans in 146 countries search for AR Gorillaz houses in their markets to stream Gorillaz' new album, Humanz. Let's just say it was a bit of a success. Kudos to all involved.

#1: Honda: 'The Ultimate Get Well Card'

Hats off to Honda and agency RPA for this personalized AR experience for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation at the Children's Hospital of Orange County. The idea: bring an augmented reality surprise to sick kids in hospitals over the holidays. Be proud, people—a touching and truly meaningful application of this technology.

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HP TV Spot Sparks Sentimentality—And Forgetfulness (Podcast)


Rick & Rick talk about sentimental TV spots and it sparks a senior moment when they can't quite remember the name of a certain song from years gone by.



(Approx. 3 min)


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Marketing 'It': From Viral Outdoor to Virtual Reality & Beyond (Podcast)

Marketing it the movie
"It" is a hit. 

But why? In a podcast recorded during the movie's big opening weekend, Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten talk about marketing campaign behind "It," which includes an ambitious VR experience, guerrilla marketing and more.

But was any of it even necessary? Or was this a movie that was just destined to make a killing? 



(Approx. 8 min)

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Ah, Millennials.

As Rick & Rick continue their rants, raves and ruminations on marketing, media and popular culture, they turn their attention to a recent ADWEEK article citing research that finds 44% of Millennials think of their pets as 'starter children.'

Anyone who's ever had a child knows just how naive that is, of course. But you can't fault younger Millennials for being clueless about something they haven't yet experienced. 

You can, however, fault self-styled marketing gurus who claim there's somehow some secret to marketing to this demographic that only they can reveal.

By now, most marketers understand that demographics are growing increasingly irrelevant. Technology now allows us to target the consumers most likely to purchase our products, regardless of superficial categorizations based on age.

As Fiona O'Donnell, Senior Lifestyle & Leisure for research firm Mintel once put it so well:

Companies or brands that successfully market to Millennials are ones that recognize that there is no such thing as a 'Millennial'—just individuals or groups of individuals who are at a similar life stage and have lived similar experiences. They want to be treated for who they are, rather than lumped together and labeled.

That's not to say those shared life experiences aren't important or leverageable. But ultimately, like all individuals, they want what they want, no matter their ages.

Of course, that doesn't mean Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten aren't going to have a little fun at their (and the so-called gurus') expense.

The Ricktators sound off here:



(Approx. 5 min)

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Video Game Movies & Robot Buddhist Priests (Rick & Rick Podcast Ep 1/Pt 1)




Welcome to 'Rick & Rick Rule the World!'

In this all-new Gen Wow iTunes podcast series, everybody's favorite Rickheads rant, rave and otherwise ruminate on whatever's hitting their Geeks-&-Mad Men radars these days.

Our Ricks include Rick Mathieson—writer, author and executive creative director at iMathieson, and Rick Wootten—vice president of marketing and sales operations at 24/7.

Their mission: To share a little of their ongoing stream-of-consciousness about all things cool in movies, TV shows, comics, video games, media, marketing and advertising. You name it, they've probably got something to say about it. Either way, it's going to be fun.

All the Ricksomeness starts here:






McDonald's Turns Drink Trays into iPhone Boom Boxes (Video)

We're McLovin' this new promotion from Mickey D's, which turns their recyclable drink trays into boom boxes for  your iPhone.

It's not the first time this has been done, of course—Coca-Cola once famously turned a magazine print ad into a speaker system for mobile phones as well. But that doesn't make McDonald's promo any less fun (our loud).

Read more, here.

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ARKit AR-Enabled Dance Practice (Video)

A simple, smart application of AR to learn how to do something we personally have had no hope of learning through any other mechanism thus far.

This particular effort uses Apple's ARKit, and so far at least, it looks promising. Though they could go ahead and just add an option for two left feet for us.

Read more here.

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Share a (Personalized) Coca-Cola Video and a Smile

Talk about a Coke and a smile.

Longtime readers know we're huge fans of Coca-Cola marketing (though we're NOT happy to hear Coke Zero is getting replaced by Coke Zero Sugar ... but we digress).

Check out this new website, where you can enter a friend's first name and send a personalized video to them. Coke created 1,000 custom videos for the effort, from Ashley to Abdullatif and beyond. There's even a song if they haven't added a name you're looking for yet.

We know "Open Happiness" is long gone, but this would have fit perfectly.

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Robot Colonel Sanders Isn't The Only New KFC Freakiness (Video)

From the WTF Dept: There's a National Fried Chicken Day.

From the WTF Dept: There's a al Fried Chicken Day.

Oh, and this Funny or Die video captures what happens when a robot Harland ("Human Assisted Animatronic Linguistic Networked Device") Sanders takes orders at the drive-thru to celebrate.

Still, as strange as it may seem, this isn't even KFC's oddest promotion.

Yesterday it was reported KFC has a new Colonel Sanders smartphone (insert your own "finger clicking good" joke here).

And let's not forget the Colonel Sanders superhero comics from DC.

As if we could ever unsee them.

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