Back to 8 steps to a sensational social media campaign

8 steps to a sensational social media campaign


John Goddard

The challenge was to create massive brand awareness for a family-owned underwear company in Truro, N.S.

“What about social media?” asked the executives at Stanfield’s.

Toronto advertising firm John St. agreed, especially as the company had only a small advertising budget.

The creators came up with an idea called “One Man, One Pair”— an Internet campaign that would follow a man wearing the same pair of underpants for 30 days.

A “yuk” factor forced a reconsideration. Then in October 2010 the creators launched their pioneering social-media ad campaign “The Guy At Home in his Underwear,” featuring Second City comedy actor Mark McIntyre living online in a loft for 25 days wearing only Stanfield’s.

Through the original website and news coverage, the campaign won a heap of advertising awards and reached millions of viewers.

At the Dx3 Canada digital tradeshow this week, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, creators Angus Tucker and Mavis Huntley told how anybody could achieve the same result in what they called “eight easy steps.”

1. Stick to your brand

“The Stanfield’s brand is about supporting men — physically supporting the boys and in this case, the big driver behind the campaign, providing some sort of emotional support as well,” said Tucker, co-creative director at John St. Actor McIntyre is a testicular cancer survivor and Stanfield’s agreed to donate to testicular cancer research depending on viewer response.

2. Ask for little

“What could I ask the laziest person in the world, on the couch with a beer, that I could reasonably expect a response to?” Tucker wondered. The ad campaign asked the online viewer to click “like” to get Stanfield’s to donate $1 to cancer research — a promotion never tried before.

3. Impossible is possible (but it’s time consuming and hard).

“You have to think, ‘Just because nobody else has done it, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible,’” said Huntley, John St. director of digital innovation. Facebook Chat had been launched three weeks earlier; McIntyre used it to interact with his audience. The Canadian Cancer Society had never allowed their donation portal to be used outside of their website; John St. talked them into it. ACTRA sets union rates for actors; John St. worked a deal for McIntyre’s 24-hour job.

4. Keep it real

“Social media is less scripted, less polished, feels the way you interact with friends, feels more real,” Tucker said.

5. Create a playbook (and revise it)

“You need to have a plan,” said Huntley, “and you need to have a plan for when the plan changes.” An episode called “blind date” went awry when CBC star George Stroumboulopoulos visited the set and stayed for two hours — “the most awkward but most exhilarating night of the whole campaign,” Huntley said.

6. Community management is a 24/7 job

“Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to manage a real-time community,” Huntley said. “It’s not a job for an intern. It’s probably not a job for one person. We had several people responding in real time, even after office hours.”

7. PR can be your media plan

“If your idea is so interesting or dramatic or provocative, the news media will want to jump on board,” Tucker said. “(Public relations agency) Environics worked with us and achieved tremendous numbers without buying one dollar of paid media.” The Stanfield’s ad budget came in at $300,000, he said, including a $50,000 donation toward cancer research based on 50,000 user “likes.”

8. You can’t control it

“ “It’s an organic, moving, developing thing (influenced by online users) and getting used to that can be liberating and exhilarating.”