Creating Impact That Drives Success
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Creative Risk-Taking


Quick, name three marketing campaigns you remember. Here are ours:

  1. Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS
  2. Apple 1984
  3. Intel Inside

What makes these campaigns memorable and effective? They challenge conventional thinking. We call this creative risk-taking. But does it work? In these cases, yes.

  1. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: more than 2.4 million ice bucket-related videos were posted on Facebook, 28 million people have uploaded, commented on or liked ice bucket-related posts, 3.7 million videos were uploaded on Instagram with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge and donations topped $100 million (and counting) a 3,500% increase over the same time period in 2013.
  2. Apple 1984: Still celebrated as “the greatest commercial in Super Bowl history” 30 years later, consumers flooded electronics stores across the country and purchased $155 million worth of Macintoshes in the three months after the Super Bowl.
  3. Intel Inside: Intel turned a chip into a brand and that brand into billions in added sales and created the concept of “ingredient branding.”

However, not always as seen in these Famous Fails:

  • Vespa: Stealth marketing campaign in which the company hired attractive actors and actresses to ride around on Vespa Scooters and hand out their phone numbers at bars and restaurants. Once dialed, the numbers lead to Vespa dealerships and customer service representatives. Nearly 100% of the called created a negative consumer perception that included a lack of brand integrity.
  • United Way: United Way set up a promotion with a safe, family-friendly promotion designed to break the world record for a balloon drop by releasing 1.5 million balloons in Cleveland, Ohio. While it looked amazing, weather conditions pushed the balloons back down — until downtown Cleveland was buried under a layer of balloons. The result: a runway at Burke Lakefront Airport had to shut down because of thousands of exploding helium balloons; prized horses panicked and injured themselves, resulting in a $100,000 settlement; thousands of balloons descended upon Lake Erie hampering a search and rescue operation by the Coast Guard, and United Way ended up facing a $3.2 million lawsuit.

The difference? The marketing ideas were not vetted or tied to clearly developed strategies. In the case of Vespa, the marketing team did not have a clear understanding of their target audience’s needs, wants, and desires. The United Way example failed in every sense: there was no clear tie to the brand, the event was viewed as extravagant for a nonprofit, and poor planning led to disaster.

Our experience shows, that when creative risk-taking, like all marketing, is tied directly to a well-informed strategy it can be a success, even on a smaller scale. For example, using Mighty Mouse as a spokesperson for a small microprocessor in a B2B world where consumer marketing techniques were never used.

To learn more about how creative risk-taking can benefit your business, email us at

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