Creativity that leverages the moment

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When the big three automakers, seeking government bailouts, flew to Washington DC in their separate private jets, CP&B leveraged the event with its clever Shocking Barack social campaign.

When the recent bitterly contested presidential election polarized the nation, Mullen and Jet Blue leveraged voter anxiety with their Election Protection promotion.

And now, when Super Bowl frenzy focuses millions of viewers and hundreds of media outlets on the advertising as well as the game, Wieden and Kennedy and Old Spice show us yet another tactic: leverage the buzz without spending the money.

You’ve no doubt seen the new “smell of the wild” spots. Nothing less than what you’d expect from the team that brought you “Hello,Ladies.”  But what makes this idea equally interesting is the attempt to jump on the PR train without buying a $3.8 million ticket.

The agency has released the spots the week before the Super Bowl, managing to suggest that one is a Super Bowl commercial by augmenting a YouTube buy with the purchase of spot TV in Juneau, Alaska. W&K justifies Juneau by reminding us that it has the nation’s highest population of wolves. So there.

Obviously that’s another attempt at securing a PR soundbite because the men in Juneau probably don’t need an artificial scent to smell like the wild.

So far the press coverage beyond the ad trades is minimal. And YouTube views after a couple of days have barely cracked 200,000. By contrast, the best of Old Spice’s Internet response ads in 2011 easily exceeded a million in the first day or two even though attention was dispersed across dozens if not hundreds of them.

Is this a good idea? Will this week’s attention on advertising draw more interest to this campaign? Or will the actual in game commercials and pre-release frenzy diffuse any focus on Old Spice. On paper it seems like a solid PR and media strategy.  It certainly doesn’t cost any more than it would have to just launch the spot on Monday as planned.

Either way it is a reminder that as lines between media blur, as interest in marketing and creativity grow, and as viewers decide what is and isn’t a big or viral idea, we have to add more media and social media thinking to our traditional advertising strategies.  Your thoughts?