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Continued: Inside the 'Free Ned' media campaign

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 11, 2013 - 11:50 AM

A: We got the contract in November, developed some transitional spots for Christmas and then launched Free Ned on Jan. 7. We had a lot of street rallies, which were completely staged and over the top.

You have to draw the line between real and fiction. If people feel they’re being conned, that’s not good. We let people know this was a branding campaign. We’ve been doing integrated marketing for quite awhile. We did an anti-smoking campaign on college campuses for Blue Cross and Blue Shield about 10 years ago.


Q: What have you learned from these integrated campaigns?

A: You have to be living it every moment. If somebody posts on the campaign’s website, we respond. We also engage customer service so they can follow up. This is like what Oreo did when the lights went out at the Super Bowl. They tweeted ‘‘You can dunk in the dark.’’


Q: Speaking of the Super Bowl, what was your take on this year’s crop of ads?

A: Somebody said they weren’t as good as past years but I think our expectations have just been ramped up so steep.

Does everyone hit a home run? No. But I’d like to see companies be more aggressive. GoDaddy had two ads, “The Kiss” and “Big Idea,” where they were actually selling a domain name. Budweiser’s Clydesdales have mass appeal. The Clydesdale campaign has always been very disciplined. It’s about Americana and family values. I knew what Volkswagen was going to do before their ad ran but it was still very engaging. It was so Volkswagen.


Q: What values do you live by when directing an advertising campaign?

A: You have to respect the intelligence of the audience at the highest level. It’s almost like a contract. We’re taking their time and we owe it to them to make it worth their time. And if they like it and trust the brand they will ultimately purchase the product.


David Phelps • 612-673-7269

  • related content

  • Patrick Hunt of the advertising agency Hunt Adkins talked about the “Free Ned” campaign the agency created for a wireless company. The integrated marketing approach blended traditional and social media and included a Free Ned website, downloadable posters and Facebook postings.

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