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Unconventional Marketing Strategies: Breaking the Mould for Lasting Impact

Poster of Barbiehimer

A few weekends ago, the combined release of Oppenheimer and Barbie sparked a new term: Barbenheimer. People flocked to the cinemas to see these very different but highly anticipated films back to back.

The marketing around Barbie has been quite the success story. From the majority of cinemagoers wearing pink when watching the film to the creation of a life-size Barbie playhouse and pink convertible for fans to visit and capture on their phones; there’s no wonder it took as much as it did during its opening weekend. It was almost a mania of sorts, which doesn’t seem to happen much nowadays, given all the demands on our attention and the plethora of marketing campaigns we’re subjected to on a daily basis.

To break through this noise and create a significant buzz, many brands have turned to unconventional marketing strategies that go beyond the norm. Here are three examples:

1. Blendtec

Blendtec logo

In the mid-2000s, Blendtec, a blender manufacturer, launched a YouTube video series called ‘Will It Blend?’. The premise was simple but daring—they blended a variety of unusual items, including iPhones, golf balls, and even a crowbar, to showcase the power of their blenders. This unconventional approach not only demonstrated the durability and effectiveness of their products but also captured the attention of millions of viewers worldwide. The campaign went viral, leading to a substantial increase in sales and brand recognition for Blendtec.

The success of ‘Will It Blend?’ can be attributed to its shock value and humour, which resonated with consumers. By taking risks and showing a playful side, Blendtec managed to differentiate itself from its competitors and create a memorable marketing campaign.

2. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club

In 2012, Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based razor company, unleashed one of the most memorable and creative marketing campaigns in recent history. With their now-iconic video titled ‘Our Blades Are F***ing Great’, the company successfully disrupted the shaving industry and quickly became a household name.

The Dollar Shave Club's marketing approach was unconventional in multiple ways. The video begins with the company's founder, Michael Dubin, standing in a warehouse, boldly declaring, ‘Hi, I'm Mike, founder of Dollar Shave Club. Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a backscratcher, and ten blades? Your handsome grandfather had one blade... and polio’. This audacious opening instantly captured viewers' attention with its humour and irreverence. The script was laced with clever visual jokes and witty one-liners throughout, keeping the audience engaged and entertained.

The entire video was refreshingly straightforward. Dubin addressed the main pain points of shaving—high costs and the complexity of choosing the right razor—and presented Dollar Shave Club's solution in the simplest terms. He emphasised that their blades were high-quality and affordable, all while using humorous analogies and demonstrations. At the end of the video, Dubin confidently asserts, ‘Do you like spending $20 a month on brand name razors? 19 go to Roger Federer. I'm good at tennis, but I suck at shaving.’ This powerful call-to-action directed viewers to the company's website, where they could sign up for a subscription in a matter of seconds.

The Dollar Shave Club's marketing campaign was an instant hit, quickly going viral and amassing millions of views within days of its release. The clever messaging and memorable delivery resonated with viewers, particularly millennial men who appreciated the humour and straightforwardness of the ad. As a result, the company experienced an unprecedented surge in new subscribers, causing its website to crash temporarily due to overwhelming demand.

3. Maybelline

MAybelline Logo

More recently, users of the London Underground were excited to see a train with bouncy, fluffy eyelashes mounted on its roof. This installation made more sense when it arrived at a specific station and met with a mascara brush fixed to the wall. Every time the tube pulls up at said station, the lashes get an invisible coating of mascara. The company also kitted out a double decker bus in the same manner, which gets the same treatment when passing a lamppost-turned-mascara-brush positioned on its route.

Though this creative marketing stunt doesn’t really show the effect of Maybelline’s ‘Lash Sensational Sky High’ product, in that it doesn’t lengthen the train’s lashes (which is the main ask of a mascara, to be fair), the action does make you smile and will undoubtedly help keep the brand’s name in mind when you’re next shopping for a mascara.

So, how did Barbie prove a similar success?

The release of the Barbie film provides an intriguing case study in unconventional marketing. Rather than relying solely on traditional advertising methods, the film's marketing team took a unique approach to generate excitement and anticipation. They engaged with the brand's massive fan base on social media platforms, encouraging them to participate in challenges and share their Barbie stories. This user-generated content not only created a sense of community but also spread organically across various online platforms.

To further break the mould, the marketing team collaborated with popular influencers and celebrities to promote the film. These influencers, who had significant followings, shared their excitement about the movie, leading to a ripple effect of organic buzz.

In addition to digital marketing efforts, the Barbie film also embraced experiential marketing by organising Barbie-themed pop-up events and interactive displays in shopping malls and cinemas. These immersive experiences allowed fans to engage directly with the brand, resulting in positive word-of-mouth and heightened enthusiasm leading up to the film's release.

These initiatives played a crucial role in Barbie’s success at the box office. By successfully tapping into the emotions and nostalgia associated with the iconic Barbie brand, it created a truly unforgettable cinematic experience.

In conclusion, by taking risks, being creative, and engaging with consumers in innovative ways, these campaigns managed to capture attention, create brand loyalty, and drive exceptional results. The examples mentioned above demonstrate that stepping outside the norm and embracing unconventional marketing strategies can yield substantial rewards for companies willing to challenge the status quo.

As consumer behaviours continue to evolve, the ability to think outside the box will remain a valuable asset for any business or brand aiming to make a lasting impact in a crowded marketplace.

We’re the perfect partners for a creative marketing campaign. Contact us on 01302 578282 to find out more.


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