First there was an article in the New York Times that caught my eye this week. It was a story about a contest unlike any I’d ever heard of. Target had teamed with Fast Company to create something called the ‘Retail Accelerator Contest’.
This wasn’t about coming up with something you’ve seen dozens of times before like a new flavor or name for a new product. This contest was directed specifically at the app development community. What Target wanted was a better idea for a mobile shopping app. So rather go the standard route of finding a company to develop one – they decided to crowdsource the project. And they offered a first prize of $75,000 to the winner.
The prize went to seven people from TBWA/Chiat Day who were moonlighting as a group they called Team Pilot. Christine Osekoski, publisher of Fast Company said ‘I wanted to create some different models of how we can work with advertising partners. If you’re going to work with them on custom content, the question becomes how you make sure it’s content our readers really want to read.’ My favorte quote around the project came from Chris Danen, who is also a part of Fast Company: ‘There was the chance that no one would submit anything good. We were biting our nails.’ In other words, this was a brave, new idea that paid off.
Today I saw another way outside the box idea from Weiden&Kennedy in NYC. For their client Heineken, they set up an interactive billboard at JFK and dared people passing by in the terminal to play ‘departure roulette‘. It required a commitment if you wanted to play: you had to be willing to drop your existing travel plans (without knowing the new destination) and then immediately board a flight to the new location.
If this idea feels kind of random, keep in mind it was designed to tie-in with a current Heineken campaign called ‘Dropped’, where people leave behind their standard, regimented lifestyles to try something refreshing different.
That’s very good advice for your marketing campaign as well. If you want to make the news, you have to think different and be brave. If you simply repeat the formulas of your competitors, you’ll never get any traction. It a world of constant connection to news and events, your contest better be newsworthy.