Chemistry News

Dec 21, 2022

Chemistry Unfiltered: December

Our first big experimenter of the year has to be Reddit.

Remember when Reddit users single-handedly increased Game Stop’s stock this year? It might seem like a lifetime ago, but that actually happened in 2022 and it inspired Reddit’s short-but-epic Super Bowl ad. TL;DR – people either lost or gained a lot of money because some Redditors said to buy and/or sell GameStop stock. Cool, but the real tea is how this moment went down in cultural infamy, inspired a Super Bowl ad, and drove tons of new users to Reddit. 

Reddit celebrated the underdog in their 5-second spot that started out as an over-dramatized car commercial, then cut to a glitch-like screen with some text and closed with galloping horses. The ad left viewers so confused they thought it was an accident.

The on-screen text read “If you’re reading this, it means our bets paid off. Big game spots are expensive, so we couldn’t buy a full one. But we were inspired and decided to spend our entire marketing budget on 5 seconds of air time.” The inspiration: the GameStop stock incident. 

Again, you don’t need to be a financial expert to get the ad and, in fact, Reddit might think the ad is more successful if you don’t. People were left puzzled and went to Twitter for answers, where Reddit had this Tweet waiting for them. Brilliant.
Reddit took a risk with this content and while weird and confusing, it paid off. Data shows that over 1 in 2 NFL fans say they find new products through TV ads and with that comes expensive ad spots. A 30-second ad during the 2022 Super Bowl was estimated to cost advertisers $6.5 million. Reddit used what it had to generate enough buzz to increase brand awareness and increase site visits.

While Chemistry isn’t encouraging you to spend your entire marketing budget on a Super Bowl ad, we are telling you to think BIG, innovate, and experiment. Experiment with your channels, your content, your audiences, and don’t be afraid to be a little weird.

Reddit bought a five-second Super Bowl spot celebrating GameStock | The Verge

We couldn’t talk about experimentation without talking about Duo – the Duolingo Mascot.

Everyone’s favorite owl is responsible for growing Duolingo’s TikTok following 940% in just over a year. Their increase in advertising spend might also have something to do with it but let’s give props to the owl, okay?!

One of the first times Duolingo went viral was because of Duo’s love for Dua Lipa, but they aren’t just a one-viral-hit -wonder. They made their virality last by leaning into trends and cultural moments in ways that feel organic and natural to the brand. Earlier this year they partnered with HBO Max to promote the premiere of “House of the Dragon” by expanding the High-Valyrian course, a language spoken in the “Game of Thrones” series. While these fictional languages might not be the most “useful” to users, according to Duolingo 43% of users also start learning another language. 

The creative director of brand and marketing, James Kuczynski, told Digiday that Duolingo really tries to “resonate with (audiences) because we feel like when we can inspire identification with them and our brand and what we do as an education language brand, they almost become ambassadors for us.”

A language-learning app probably wouldn’t be the first brand many people follow on social media, but Duolingo has become a powerful presence on social media because they decided to think outside of the box and kept doing it. 

How Duolingo is using Trends for Viral Marketing | DigiDay

How could we forget the SMILE guerilla campaign… even though you might want to.

SMILE could have been a film that horror buffs loved and most movie viewers forgot even came out if they had stuck to the typical movie promotion tactics. The film was produced on a modest budget of $17 million, but ended up grossing $37 million in its opening weekend and a lot of the success can be linked back to their haunting guerilla campaign.

Remember the creepy people sitting right behind home plate at some Major League Baseball games this fall or when they popped up in The Today Show crowd. It was a simple activation – actors wearing t-shirts that read “SMILE” while holding an unnerving smile on their face the entire time. The average viewer had no idea what they were looking at, but they were disturbed enough that it drove audiences to social and had everyone talking, even if you weren’t watching the game. 

As advertisers, we’re frequently told don’t hit the nail right on the head or don’t make it too obvious, except SMILE did exactly that and it worked. Experimenting isn’t always as outlandish or grandiose as it sounds. It’s always innovative, but innovation doesn’t necessarily mean huge. Think about ways experimenting might even mean scaling back for your brand or business. 

30 Best Ads of 2022 (Smile Guerilla Campaign) | AdWeek

If you liked any of our takes on these experiments, reach out and let’s work together to bring your biggest idea to life. If you think we forgot anything major, let us know on our socials so we can keep the convo going. If there’s anything we like more than coming up with new experiments, it’s talking about experiments we wish we came up with.

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