In 2013, red fridges appeared in several European cities. Passersby quickly figured out that the fridges could only be opened with Canadian passports and that they were full of Molson beer. Over the years, this odd marketing campaign took a number of twists and turns, and it went viral more than once. If you’re handling the marketing for your business, you may want to implement some of the elements that made this campaign such a success.
First and foremost, Molson’s campaign was interactive. Real people encountered these fridges out in the world, and they had to play with them to open them. To loop in the audience at home, Molson recorded ads and shared them on social media platforms. While shipping fridges to Europe may not make sense for your product or your budget, you can explore interactivity in other ways. For instance, you may want to develop products around customer feedback, give video tours of your production facility, or create interactive apps.
Crossing the Line Between Reality and the Digital World
The Molson beer fridge was interactive in a very specific way. Namely, it bridged the divide between the digital realm and the real world. People who encountered the fridges while out and about were extremely likely to share the experience over social media. At the same time, people who saw the ads online knew that the fridges existed in reality and hoped they’d bump into one.
Iterative marketing is a big buzz phrase right now, but the concept is pretty simple. When marketing is iterative, it’s constantly focused on improving. It also takes one idea and repeats or iterates it multiple times. With the beer fridge campaign, Molson definitely played with iterative marketing.
After its European holiday, the fridge came home to Canada, but this time, it didn’t need a passport to be opened. Instead, you just needed to sing the national anthem. In the ad’s next iteration, the fridge only opened if it heard "I am Canadian" spoken in at least six different languages. Reusing elements of your ad campaign like this is beneficial because you don’t have to think of as many ideas, you can simply takes what works from your existing campaign and modify it slightly for use it in the next one.
This approach also helps keep your customers engaged. Molson’s fans saw the fridge in Europe, and as they watched it travel home, they became more engaged in its journey. They wondered what would happen next, and to that end, they were excited when the next batch of ads rolled out. That’s how you want your audience to feel.
Rather than just airing the ad on TV or posting it once online, the company published the ads on YouTube. That allowed consumers to find and share the ads as desired. As a result, six months after the multi-lingual fridge first debuted, the ad went viral for a second time, and at that point, the ad reached nearly 10 million views. If you put the time and creative energy into making a video advertisement, make sure to post it somewhere that people can share it. That’s free marketing.
Connecting to the Current Conversation
Many people were sharing the Molson ad because they appreciated how it focused on the importance of diversity. While this ad was blowing up online, a number of other big brands, including Budweiser, 84 Lumber Co, and Coca-Cola, were airing Super Bowl ads that also celebrated diversity. Ultimately, to avoid controversy, those three companies all walked away from the messages in their advertisements, claiming that the storylines were open to interpretation, but Molson took another approach. The company stood by its ad, labelling it a "celebration of Canadian values."
The takeaway here is not about the political undercurrent in any of these ads. Rather, it’s about connecting your ads to a current conversation. When you join an existing conversation, people are more likely to be interested in your message. Of course, diversity is just one of many concepts to consider. If you make snacks, you may want to get involved with the gluten-free conversation. If you run a restaurant, you may want to tap into the farm-to-table conversation. There are millions of conversations happening, and no doubt hundreds of them tie into your product or service.
A Positive Brand Image
All the iterations of the Molson fridge ads highlight the company’s brand image in slightly different ways. The first ad focuses on the importance of being Canadian (and drinking Canadian beer), even when you’re far from home. The second ad also spotlights patriotism, while the third ad showcases diversity. All of these concepts tie into the company’s brand image as the creator of Canada’s most iconic beer. Even more importantly, all of these concepts are very positive. When someone sees your company name or logo, you want them to be flooded with positive feelings. To ensure that happens, you need to infuse your marketing with a positive tone.
The Molson campaigns were innovative, iterative, and interactive. They got Molson’s customers excited, and they even helped the brewing giant draw some revenue away from the microbreweries. However, the lessons don’t have to end there. If you run a small business, you may want to get excited about the ways that you can include some of these elements into your own marketing efforts.