October 9, 2012
Brands play with the idea of alternative currencies
Framing the emotional value of their goods in a new light, some brands have been turning their products into currencies in recent campaigns. To show that “Heineken opens your world,” the beer maker tasked a man with getting from Inner Mongolia back home to Thailand using “nothing but Heineken and a little bit of wit.” (Australia’s Tooheys beer has previously leveraged the idea of beer as currency.) In the U.S., Oscar Mayer ran a similar initiative, the Great American Bacon Barter. Actor Josh Sankey trekked from New York to Los Angeles, trading bacon for food, fuel, accommodation and so on.
Flipping the equation, some campaigns have involved consumers using alternate currencies to gain access to the brand. At a London pop-up store, Kellogg’s turned social media chatter into currency by allowing customers to pay for Special K Cracker Crisps (valued at around $1) with a tweet (“#tweetshop”). And as we wrote in August, brands have been using this concept to incentivize good behavior. Nike’s award-winning “Bid Your Sweat” campaign—created by JWT Mexico—allowed participants to trade miles run for Nike goods. And a Los Angeles pop-up shop launched by beverage brand Activate invited visitors to pay for drinks with calories burned.
Adding some novelty to the traditional value exchange can prompt consumers to think about the product in a new way or make their encounter with the brand more memorable. Watch especially for more initiatives like Special K’s that provide immediate, concrete rewards for social media promotion.