Ice-T is a name, is a brand, is a place (he may have come up in L.A. but New York is proud to claim him). He's also a meme, internet sensation and known by many as an unsung O.G. After all, you can't think of the Law and Order franchise and not think of Ice-T, and are you really a New Yorker if you haven't binge-watched Law and Order SVU?
When brands use celebrities in their marketing campaigns, it's often because of the celebrities' reach or follower count. In fact, 16% of consumers ages 16-34 find out about brands through celebrity endorsements. However, in order for celebrity endorsements to be successful it's not about the name but the reputation of the celebrity that builds consumer confidence. The best brands take this concept a step further, asking themselves: What happens when a celebrity -- a reliable face we've all come to know and trust -- is the embodiment of your brand?
Early on, RXBar realized that not only is the health and wellness market crowded, but the energy bar market is particularly claustrophobic. As Charlie Hart, RxBar's Director of Masterbrand told Adweek, the brand wanted to differentiate itself from a sea full of Instagram models and photoshopped ingredients. Instead, like the ingredients of the bars themselves, they wanted to strip their ad campaigns of any filler, which is how the "No B.S." campaign (pictured at top) was conceived. "When we look at the whole campaign, what we were trying to do is be aggressively simple and strip out all the gimmicks," Hart said. "[Ice-T] embodies that perfectly."
Which is what makes RXBar's new advertising campaign so complex and so compelling -- the brand is making Ice-T and, by proxy, New York (the location) stars with its strategically placed billboards across MTA. In fact, RXBar wasn't afraid to pull out all the stops for the "No B.S." campaign, and they are the first brand to be prominently featured in all 10 available rotating ad spots across 27 screens that flank the Lorimer and Metropolitan Street Stations in Brooklyn. They're advertising using sets of triptychs, three screens rotating at one time, and giving their audience the opportunity to respond to their creative campaign IRL and in real time. And, by using a New York "No BS" approach they're also capitalizing on a face that screams (in Ice-T's own words!) "I am the total package."
Another great example of a brand anchoring its branding and messaging together with the help of a celebrity is the collaboration between Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Under Armour. Famous for saying, "If something stands between you and your success, move it! Never be denied!" The Rock embodies hard work, discipline and the drive that it takes for you to reach your goals -- everything Under Armour is about. Being a native of Maryland (the home of Under Armour) and an avid Ballers fan, this campaign piqued my interest!
In order to have a successful advertising campaign, Under Armour hit the ground running. The brand put out limited-edition merchandise as part of its Project Rock One series, invested in TV spots and social media, and also engaged in a total cross-channel campaign supporting the initiative. In fact, according to the celebrity research company Spotted, the brand has had the No. 1 most lucrative and successful celebrity endorsement campaign of the year.
Another brand that really stands out in terms of its careful curation of celebrities and understanding its audience appeal is Spotify (pictured above). Not only was Spotify awarded "Media Brand of the Year" at Cannes, but it taught us how a brand can successfully launch a new product offering, create brilliant location-specific campaigns and leverage data to really connect with its audience. We're living in an age when data privacy is at the front and center of so many consumer minds, yet Spotify has been able to creatively use data to spotlight its users' tastes and make a huge statement.
We've also seen Spotify succeed across multiple OOH activations in the New York City subways, home to a variety of smartly designed ads, from a tongue-in-cheek approach to New Yorkers' love of Cardi B to their viral David Bowie campaign placed in a historically significant and data-driven location. By putting their listeners' favorite artists and songs at the heart of their campaigns, Spotify showcases how brands that put customer experience first win big in advertising.
All of these brands are tapping into a much larger trend in advertising. Whileconsumer confidence is stronger than ever, brands must find innovative ways to differentiate themselves and stay ahead of the curve. Therefore, brands are investing their efforts in marketing in physical locations to maximize their appeal. And in the case of CPG brands, when taking advantage of the physical placement of their product the most innovative brands are also using OOH campaigns that leverage placement and metropolitan areas to make their marketing even more effective.
What inspires us most about the campaigns of RXBar, Under Armour and Spotify is how they have married location, marketing, product and brand to make their messages standout. In a crowded marketplace where "cut the crap" is a verifiable M.O. these brands have delivered their messages straight with no chasers.
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