Great Risk, Great Reward

May 15, 2018

Imagine putting your fate in the hands of an 18-year-old kid who has no idea he’s about to become the face of a brand’s national marketing efforts. That’s exactly what we did last fall with the #SamHasMentosGum campaign, which was recognized last night as a Silver Winner in the “Biggest Leap of Faith” category at the Ex Awards, a celebration of the world’s best experiential marketing work.

Criteria for the award includes, “the risks involved, the leaps of faith taken by both the agency and the client — and the reward that the big risk generated.”

If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a two-minute case study that tells Sam’s story better than I can.

For #SamHasMentosGum to reach its award-winning potential, it not only had to be the most visible thing on a college campus during back-to-school season, it had to get attention from coast to coast. No small task. Our approach:

  • Create a compelling incentive for an entire campus to participate in.
  • Offer opportunities for students across the country to be involved.
  • Develop a fully integrated, highly amplifiable plan to drive eyeballs and engagement via paid, earned and owned media.
  • Integrate relevant celebrity and influencer partners.
  • Roll out fresh social and digital content to sustain momentum.
  • Create a second wave of buzz with a big payoff.

Our Amplification specialists, including experiential, media relations, social media, influencer, paid media and analytics, were involved from the start. Because Amplification considerations are as important to us as creative, the keys to success were built in from the beginning. Each campaign element would work by building off one another. This commitment to an integrative approach resulted in outsized impacts for the dollars we had to spend.

Looking back, there were so many variables, moving parts and unknowns that had to fall into place for the campaign to work. But the funny thing is we never felt like it was that risky. It’s our job to plan for every scenario. We knew we had a winning hand to play, if Sam came through for us.

There were some white-knuckle moments as we prepared to surprise him, knowing that it could all fall apart if he wasn’t willing to play the starring role. He ended up being perfect. But it’s fair to say we took a big leap of faith. Let’s hope we never stop doing so.