Reviewing Three Recent Creative Campaigns from Big Brand Names

Scanning the current marketing landscape, it can be easy to think the well has run dry on creative ideas. You look around and see a lot of the same. But there are always some bold brands out there ready to take a big leap by attempting something truly innovative or original.

In today’s blog, we’ll explore a trio of creative campaigns from some familiar brand names. Hasbro, Axe and Zicam all recently took unique approaches with their marketing efforts. We’ll tell you whether their attempts were inspired or perspired—and what you can learn from their stabs at marketing glory.

Monopoly Murders Game Tokens 

The Campaign:

Hasbro recently announced they would be offing one of the game tokens used in Monopoly. Here’s the twist: It was up to fans to vote on Facebook for the pieces they wanted to save. The token with the least amount of votes would sleep with the fishes. People also had the chance to vote for the token that would replace the departed. Their choices included a guitar, a robot with a hipster mustache, a helicopter, a cat and a diamond ring. In the end, the iron got the axe and the cat was crowned its successor.

The Verdict:

We have to give big props to Hasbro on this one. The campaign got a ton of fans involved with the brand, garnered coverage from high-profile sources like, and even had other organizations encouraging their fans to vote (for example, Zappos fought to save the shoe token). In terms of both ingenuity and engagement, marketing campaigns don’t get much better than this. It also managed to make Monopoly relevant for a new generation.

Read more about Hasbro’s Monopoly marketing campaign.

Axe Sends People to Space

The Campaign:

Axe, the maker of body spray and men’s care products, decided to take its “extreme”, male-focused marketing to a whole new atmosphere by launching a contest to send 22 people into space. They teamed up with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin for this campaign, which included the tagline “Leave a Man. Come Back a Hero.” Axe encouraged people to enter online for a chance to win a trip into the unknown, and even aired a commercial promoting the contest during the Super Bowl.

The Verdict:

While we like the idea of winning a trip into space (who wouldn’t), this campaign fell a little flat with us for a couple of reasons. First, after Red Bull’s monumental Space Jump just a few months ago, it felt a bit like a marketing rip-off. Second, for the life of us we can’t figure out how Axe products and space relate. In order for contests to be effective, they need to reflect the brand and/or the message. It’s not quite clear how the Axe space trip does that. As a result, we have to call this one a miss.

Read more about the Axe marketing campaign.

Zicam Fights the Cold Monster

The Campaign:

Zicam, a product that claims to clinically reduce the duration of a cold, recently launched an integrated campaign effort featuring a new character called the Cold Monster. This mucus-y, ogre-like character represents all the terrible things about having a cold: the coughing, runny nose, lack of energy, red eyes, etc. He is the personification of the feelings you want to avoid. Along with the Cold Monster, Zicam’s new campaign also includes a revamped website and a tool that tracks cold activity by location.

The Verdict:

This campaign was ultimately a mixed bag for us. While we found the Cold Monster to be a well-designed character and an interesting way to market the product (this is what you don’t want, get Zicam), we question the use of fear as a driving marketing tactic. Rather than focus on the benefit or solution, Zicam may be a bit too fixated on the problem. The cold tracking tool in particular rubs us the wrong way—conjuring images of paranoid people in face masks afraid to leave their homes because they might catch a cold. We’ll be interested to see how this campaign connects with customers in the long run.

A final word…

No matter what your opinions on these campaigns, you have to respect their creative approaches. They all at the very least stand out in the overcrowded marketing landscape. That alone counts as a small victory these days.

Want more on this topic?

Want more on this topic? Listen to Episode #11 of Speaking Human on iTunes.