The Brand Your Brand Could Smell Like.

Last night I attended the Effie Awards ceremony in New York, and much to the surprise of no one, Old Spice’s “The man your man could smell like” campaign walked off with the top prize, as it has in virtually every other award show this year. And deservedly so. It’s the blueprint for what brands need to do to be successful today, combining insightful strategy and powerful creative with innovation and responsiveness. While the hilarious TV spots alone might have given the brand a short-term boost in awareness and sales, it was the hundreds of equally hilarious personal YouTube videos that were created in response to tweets and Facebook comments from fans that pushed it into cultural phenomenon territory.

And those elements of insight, creativity, innovation and responsiveness were on display all night long. From brands whose marketing always seems fresh and relevant like Snickers and Southwest Airlines, to more surprising entrants like insurance companies and big pharma.

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In the Goodworks, non-profit category, our “Be That Woman” platform for the Washington Area Women’s Foundation won a Silver Effie. It had a media buy of $0, and a production budget of $0, yet managed to triple the Foundation’s fundraising totals in the midst of a deep recession. How? By using simple creative with a powerful emotional hook, and harnessing social media and the blogosphere to give people the ability to share and add their voice to the story. The gold-winning campaign for the Rhode Island Food Bank took a similar approach. Based on the insight that many people believe “Nothing can stop hunger,” they invented a brand called Nothing. It was literally a can of nothing with a coin slot in the lid. They sold the cans in stores for $2.99. People returned them filled with spare change. In both cases, the buzz and conversation generated were worth far more than any traditional media buy could deliver.

Now more than ever, it’s not just what brands say, it’s what they do that matters. Technology and social media have leveled the playing field in ways that demand brands to be transparent and authentic. To energize people and pull them in rather than simply push messages out. At RP3, we call brands that do this Magnet Brands. At the Effie Awards, and more importantly in the marketplace, they’re called winners.