The unconventional advertising route in 2021

The myriad of advertisements bombarding consumers every day have made people virtually immune to commercial messages. That’s why advertisers are trying to find new, alternative and creative ways to reach customers.

By Romanita Oprea

Over the years, the idea of ​​an unconventional marketing or advertising campaign has evolved, particularly around the amount of technology used to reach the target of a campaign. From guerrilla marketing and flash mobs to geofilters or using the environment as an unconventional element (sky / coffee cups / elevators / escalators, etc.) to today’s TikToks and NFTs, the no Conventional has evolved both in terms of messaging and means of expression and interaction. And if we looked at the domain-specific literature, we would find that Kaikati and Kaikati (2004) identified six main types of unconventional advertising techniques: viral marketing, brand pushers, celebrity marketing, in video games, and marketing in pop and rap music. However, they see these strategies as part of the larger category of stealth marketing. For Pavel and Catoiu (2009), the category of unconventional advertising includes the following elements: advertising for elevators, advertising for taxis, advertising for toilets, advertising for mirrors, aerial advertising, advertising ambient, body advertising and graffiti advertising. This field is constantly changing in search of new ways to break through the advertising clutter. Technology and the digital world play a huge role in changing it and allowing it to keep up with reality.

In a world where every consumer is suffocated by ads that all look alike, unconventional advertising is a breath of fresh air, delivering messages in unexpected forms that viewers typically entertain. In fact, unconventional advertising is meant to be unexpected and catch people off guard, in places and situations where they don’t expect to be targeted by ads. Additionally, unlike traditional advertisements, unconventional advertisements do not use persuasive messages designed to convince the audience to buy, but rather address the customer’s subconscious by creating memorable images that stay in the minds of the customer for a long time. consumer.

According to Web Market Media, unconventional advertising means that any space with a certain level of visibility, whether static or mobile, can become the carrier of an advertising message. What makes it unconventional? It is either the space used to promote the message or simply its form of production. Anything that deviates from traditional communication media and anything that surprises us with its location, format or idea may represent unconventional advertising.

Focused on digital and technology

Adrian Diac, Creative Director at Ogilvy Romania, says the unconventional has become tied to technology. It’s about spotting the right technology in order to deliver a powerful message. “Every technological success immediately turns into a platform for creativity and, of course, our industry is at the forefront of exploring these platforms. We did this with the Sound Codes of Romania project for Globalworth, where we combined Spotify with the design of traditional rugs, providing a surprising experience. People could practically listen to Romania’s traditional beep codes by simply accessing a QR code placed on these mats, ”Diac explained.

Unconventional advertising is predominantly digital nowadays, according to Andreea Timofte, due to the important role cell phones play in our lives and the ease of access to mobile internet. Brands today looking to approach customers in a special way will almost always think of reaching them through their phones. “From that point on, the power of IoT (Internet of Things) in our lives will add to the benefits of taking a digital approach for most projects. Ten or fifteen years ago, it was enough to put a special 3D production in the center of Bucharest to achieve a wow effect. Today, such a project requires an Internet connection to interact with customers via their mobile phones and offer them something more, even if it is only information, ”explained the CEO of Motion Vision. Communication. To what extent have digital and technology changed unconventional advertising and offered new avenues of exposure / creativity / innovation? “Technology and the Internet are always in the pockets of customers, so there are many touchpoints where advertising can interfere in the lives of customers. Thus, brands choose to have a greater number of less intensive points of contact with their prospects. Nonetheless, innovation will bring new ways of connecting the things around us. A few years ago, we couldn’t think that the refrigerator door could be used as a digital advertising display, ”said Andreea Timofte.

Everything seems possible in the digital world. Just take a look at Snickers’ AdWords campaign, which was based on misspelled keywords. The ad copy based on the same concept helped the brand connect with its audience in a humorous way. As Social Media Today pointed out, when they clicked on the banner ad, people were taken to a branded website built purely around a hunger / typo message. The campaign didn’t sell the goodies directly, but it recorded 558,589 impressions of various misspellings in just two days.

“Advertising has become dependent on technology, like all of us. As we spend several hours a day on our smartphones, it is obvious that we need to be there, to offer experiences and entertainment, to take advantage of new technologies and to interact more and more with the public ”, added the creative director of Ogilvy.


“Conversational AI will have an important role in personalizing advertising messages for prospects, just like IoT, so there could be a lot of nice surprises in those two areas. “- Andrea Timofte

“There is a move towards simplifying digital ecosystems. This means a return to a simpler and more iconic means of communication, with a strong emphasis on craftsmanship, but still paired with a technological feature that will enhance dialogue. “- Adrien diac

Interaction is the key. Engaging the audience creates memorable experiences and gives people something to talk about.

Customization. As with any other type of advertising in 2021, personalization is one of the most important aspects of keeping your consumer close to your campaign and your brand and it proves that you know your target audience.

Experiential and entertaining

So what should an unconventional ad campaign look like these days to grab attention and stay true to its name? For Adrian Diac, the entertainment factor must be the central point of audience engagement. And he might be right, because consumers demand entertainment every step of the way. “Consumers are oblivious to digital advertising. We sat in front of screens, locked in our homes, for most of 2020. Brands need to think beyond this must-have media format to reconnect with their customers in unique ways. Outdoor advertising will be a very effective format to achieve this once the vaccine is available, as people will rush outside and be more aware of their surroundings, ”said Skye Suttenfield, managing director of Seen Media Group, for Forbes. back in 2020.

“An unconventional campaign must have a strong experiential approach, with at least a minimal digital component,” explained Andreea Timofte. Experiential marketing means involving the audience in the event or campaign and it produces great results because it creates something immersive and interactive.

On the other hand, are clients ready to invest budgets in unconventional techniques, in innovative and surprising campaigns? Or has the pandemic changed their priorities? Timofte says that during the pandemic, many brands have decided to put their communications efforts on hold. And that’s why the two categories of ads that performed well during this time were retail and telecoms, and they were mostly focused on bottom lines and less on wow effects. It is true that some new categories, driven by the context, are more interested in customer surprise.

Ogilvy’s Creative Director agrees clients don’t invest big budgets in the unconventional. “Most of the time, innovation comes across as a creative idea that needs to be explained, sold to the customer and implemented. It is a difficult process that requires a lot of meeting, persuasion and trust. In the best and most successful cases, the client and the agency come together to make these projects a reality, ”explained Adrian Diac.

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