3 Brands That Know How to Market in the Digital Age


By Candie Harris

A number of years ago, in a CMO Community meeting, I saw a presentation given by Scott Galloway titled “Seven Questions for Marketers” that transformed my thinking about marketing. Scott looked around the room, pointed at the attendees and said, “You are all dinosaurs unless you realize the untapped potential that social media and digital content can offer to your marketing mix.” At that time Facebook and Twitter were just beginning to be used by brands to build an engaged fan base, and only a few brands were doing it well. Fast forward to today, where there are a multitude of platforms, ongoing network changes/updates, and an environment crowded with brands all trying to get their messages heard. Here are lessons from three of my favorite brands that have managed to consistently stay ahead of the curve and leverage the changing digital marketing landscape.

Burger King — Edgy creative pays off

Necessity is the mother of invention. Burger King faces the same challenge many brands face; their main competitor, McDonalds, is larger with significantly more money to spend. They've seen the opportunity to maximize their media exposure by taking chances using an edgy voice and ongoing clever participation in pop culture. By putting the Burger King “King” mascot in prime viewing spots at sporting events (Floyd Merriweather fight/Belmont Stakes), they have garnered millions of media impressions for a fraction of the cost. By challenging their competitors as part of a sponsorship of Peace Day, they achieved a tremendous amount of press coverage. While seen as "risky" by some and distasteful by others, the strategy built on taking chances has paid off big time. In fact, Burger King’s innovative digital approach is seen as a major factor in their improved business results the last few years.

Dove Outstanding creative and early adoption of digital platforms fuels the conversation

What began with the insight that only a very small percentage of women consider themselves beautiful turned into the 10+ year Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which has generated millions of global conversations and dramatically increased Dove's sales as well as brand value.  One of the things that has made this ongoing, groundbreaking campaign exponentially more successful is the virality that Dove has consistently achieved by being ahead of the curve in the use of digital media. Dove initially starting with “Tick Box” billboards where consumers texted their vote between two descriptions of a photo with the ongoing tally appearing next to the image. The combination of a message that resonated and technology enabled feedback, and participation led the message to spread like wildfire. Building off the learnings from that initial effort, the content strategy evolved to include Evolution, a video launched on YouTube (among other platforms) where it became one of the first viral videos ever (YouTube was only launched the year before). The campaign continued with award-winning Real Beauty Sketchesreleased in 2013 and shared on multiple digital platforms (YouTube, Buzzfeed, Facebook, etc)becoming the viral campaign of the year.  Continuing to capitalize on its learnings, Dove recently launched their Choose Beautiful video on multiple platforms. Creating a Tumblr page as part of the campaign helped facilitate the viewing and sharing of huge amounts of relevant content. Despite the huge and continued success of the overall campaign, Dove is not without its’ critics, but who can argue with the growth and exposure the brand has achieved?

Burberry Becoming more relevant to consumers by integrating technology into all aspects of consistent brand messaging

As one of the oldest brands in fashion (founded in 1856) with a signature product (trench coat) that is anything but ‘trendy,’ Burberry's emergence as digital marketing experts might seem counterintuitive. They have have achieved that status with a focus that began in 2006 to "build a social enterprise." Recognizing that they wanted to target a younger consumer, they started with a comprehensive social strategy that included Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. They use the various platforms to share outstanding content, whether it is user generated, product info., company news, fashion shows, campaigns, etc. They built on and enhanced their social presence with a website that continues the social experience, allowing users to upload photos directly, presenting product beautifully, and engaging consumers with an acoustic section (a place to see and hear new bands from the U.K.).  Their comprehensive digital focus has not only made Burberry a leader in digital fashion marketing; it has also resulted in a rejuvenated brand, an increase in sales, and an engaged younger consumer. 

Many brands today are maximizing their marketing efforts with smart, innovative digital strategies. Share some of your favorites below.