The Moon, Contests, and Stunts: 3 Brilliant Campaigns You Should Study
Trip Hunter isn’t just a marketer; he’s also a showman. Through a series of creative ad strategies for a variety of companies, Trip has been finding ways to set the bar high for the last 20 years. His campaigns haven’t always been smooth sailing. Last year, Trip headed marketing operations for Silicon Valley’s first-ever ComicCon. Starting from zero, he managed to provide over 60,000 attendees with some of the most unique con experiences of their lives. And that’s only scratching the surface of Trip’s marketing prowess.
Trip discusses his biggest breakthrough marketing moments on episode 36 of the Renegade Thinkers Unite podcast. Along with Drew Neisser—who is not only the show’s host but also Trip’s former business partner—he offers brilliant insights that can inspire any CMO. You can listen to the episode here.
Below are three of the niftiest and most successful campaigns Trip innovated as a marketer.
Out of all the campaigns Trip has worked on throughout his career, Silicon Valley ComicCon is probably the coolest (or the nerdiest, depending on your taste in pop culture). When the con needed to whip up a following for its inaugural season in 2016, Trip used lateral thinking to distinguish the event from others similar. He partnered with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to create a “future of humanity” themed con. The plan was to display science and science fiction side-by-side, showcasing the full spectrum of creative genius. Trip wanted guests to have the chance to discuss The Martian with Any Weir and talk to Buzz Aldrin about the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Social media was a big engagement driver for the con. It not only helped the marketing team learn about their audience, but it also taught them a few things about their brand. As Trip points out, “Social determines the quality of your brand immediately.” The con monitored its social channels around the clock during the event. Trip continues, “If we hadn’t been right on top of customer complaints on an hourly basis every day, then you’re condemned immediately. And so social helped us drive that and put enough emphasis on responding to social comments on an hourly basis. I think it really paid off because it builds up equity in your brand so that people are willing to forgive a mistake or two at the event because they’ve seen that you’ve been responsive to it.” After the con ended, complaints were virtually non-existent because of this due diligence.
Businesses tend to talk about how great their products are. So when Trip came up with the idea of starting a program called the Crappy Code Competition, his Fusion-io acquaintances were understandably baffled. Trip explains how this contest sought to improve the computer software company’s brand image. He says, “We believe that our system is so fast that it can flush crappy code down the toilet. So we challenged people, because writing crappy code is very difficult.” Instead of showing how awesome Fusion-io was, Trip wanted consumers to experience its greatness for themselves.
The Crappy Code Competition invited coders to test out Fusion-io’s product quality. “We created a series of programming challenges where we invited coders to write the crappiest code that they could, which we would then run on our system,” says Trip. “If we had a noticeable slowdown in the performance of the chunk of code running on our system, then they would win. So they had to essentially show that our product was crap.” The campaign yielded $6.5 million for Fusion-io. Evidently, their product was not crap.
What better partners for a marketing daredevil than some real-life daredevils? When Primary Data launched in 2014, Trip wanted to make an immediate impact on consumers. Whereas an ordinary company might do a press release and cut the ceremonial ribbon with a pair of oversized scissors, Primary Data hired Nitro Circus to put on a motorcycle stunt show. The adrenaline-packed event had fans screaming for more at the end of the day.
So how did Trip manage to link Nitro Circus back to Primary Data, a data visualization solutions provider? It’s all about professionalism. Trip explains, “It had to do with moving data, showing that moving data is difficult, but also showing that there are very few people that know how to do it. Nitro Circus in this instance was one of those very special groups that knows how to do [something] nobody else does.” Not to mention, a company that connects itself to thrilling stunts sure sounds like a pretty cool brand to do business with.
Trip always has a new trick up his sleeve—not simply because he wants to be thought of as a cool marketer, but because he believes constant change is necessary. “It’s really easy for us to become complacent in the channels that we’ve tried,” he says. “Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it will work again.” Don’t think about keeping up with the times when developing new strategies. Strive to design campaigns that are ahead of their time.