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3 Examples of Ingenious Marketing Stunts

Updated: Jun 6, 2022

Team of marketers around a table planning their marketing strategy.

Great marketing is all about standing out from the crowd.

In today’s business world, where almost every organisation has at least half a dozen competitors, the best way to stand out is to do things that your competitors haven’t dared do or just haven’t thought of!

To give you a little bit of inspiration to get your thinking caps on, we wanted to share three examples of ingenious marketing! Take a look at them below!

#1 - Greggs: Fenwick Christmas Window Display

Starting with a personal favourite, it’s Greggs’ incredible 2018 marketing stunt outside the Fenwick’s Christmas display in Newcastle – if you haven’t seen this one before it’s the perfect embodiment of ‘simple is best’.

Every year the Fenwick store on Northumberland Street in Newcastle creates an amazing Christmas display that thousands of people go to see.

Dead opposite the Fenwick store is a Greggs store. The clever people over at Greggs could see these hundreds of people a day going to see the display, and while there was a much larger footfall outside their store, the issue here is that they were all facing the away from their store and looking at the Fenwick display instead.

So what did Greggs do? They flipped their sign.

The flipped sign on the Greggs store on Northumberland Street in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

​At first, this left a lot of people puzzled, wondering why Greggs’ sign was backwards, but when they looked into the glass of the Fenwick display and saw the Greggs sign staring back at them in the reflection the right way round, it clicked.

The 2018 Fenwick Christmas display in Newcastle with Greggs' sign in the reflection.

​This was a huge talking point at the time, and with a lot of online publishers and social media users going mad over it, it got Greggs even more publicity!

Who knew something as simple as flipping the sign on your store would have such an impact?

#2 - Aldi vs. M&S: Cuthbert the Caterpillar Cake Crisis

While this one is slightly more PR focused, we had to include it for the simple reason that it shows that even when you’re challenged, you can still come out on top with the power of social media.

Despite M&S seeking legal action against supermarket chain Aldi, through their very clever social media team, Aldi managed to win the favour of the public and put M&S in a tricky position.

Earlier this year, M&S took legal action against Aldi whose ‘Cuthbert the Caterpillar’ cake looked almost identical to M&S’ ‘Colin the Caterpillar’ cake.

While Aldi removed the item from their stores during the situation, they certainly got the public’s attention with their social media posts that made light of the situation.

Aldi UK's Facebook posts about M&S and Cuthbert the Caterpillar
Aldi UK's Tweets about M&S and Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake.

With jokey posts about ‘Colin’ their lawyers and taking M&S’ slogan and using it against them, it gained a lot of attention from the public and the media and even left some people questioning whether it was all genuine, or cooked up by Aldi and M&S for publicity.

All you have to do is take a look at the #FreeCuthbert hashtag on Twitter to see just how many people started getting involved and siding with Aldi!

The real kicker came when Aldi turned the whole situation into a way to raise money for charity with a limited edition ‘Cuthbert the Caterpillar’. As well as being a great way to turn the situation into charity fundraiser, it would also make any attempts from M&S to shut it down a little more tricky if it meant preventing fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Aldi even roped in all the other big UK supermarket chains and mentioned all of their named renditions of the Caterpillar cake, saying ‘Let’s raise money for charity, not lawyers.’

Aldi UK's tweets about cancer charity fundraising with Cuthbert the Caterpillar.

​Despite Aldi having to remove the product from shelves and relaunch with a slightly altered look to keep M&S’ legal team at bay, they certainly won the public’s support and gained the most positive publicity from their very clever and well-thought-out social media response to the situation.

#3 - Thursday: Creative Public Marketing Stunts

Despite launching in 2018 as ‘Honeypot’, and later rebranding to ‘Thursday’, the dating app has been doing some very creative marketing stunts and social media content recently that has been very interesting to follow.

While the market is completely saturated with all manner of dating apps, Thursday has done something different by making their app only accessibly on, you guessed it, Thursdays.

If that wasn’t enough of a talking point, their marketing campaigns are miles apart from the likes of Tinder or Hinge – even mentioning their competitors by name.

Thursday's poster advert saying 'There's nothing awkward about saying you met on Thursday.'

Thursday's billboard saying 'Hinge, you can have the kids 6 days a week.'

Despite the cleverness of these campaigns, what’s really been getting people’s interest is what they’ve been making their marketing interns do!

From standing handcuffed to a pole in London with a huge blackboard to sitting on the London Underground with a projector pointing at empty ad space (also a great way to avoid paying for the ad space), and even making the intern stand with a cardboard sign and about 100 branded balloons tethered to her.

All of this in London, one of the busiest cities in the world, and they’ve got a lot of eyes on their marketing stunts and are really nailing their goal of getting people to stop, read their signs, and even take photos and share it on social media, increasing their reach even more!

Thursday marketing stunt with intern wearing cardboard sign and balloons in London.
Thursday marketing stunt with intern on London Underground with a projector.
Thursday marketing stunt with an intern handcuffed to a pole with a message on a blackboard.

Take a look at some of their other brilliant marketing campaigns on Thursday's Instagram page.

Final Thoughts...

Looking at these three brands, it’s clear that great marketing isn’t always complicated nor does it always require a massive budget; it just needs creativity, a bit of cleverness, and the guts to stand out and do something which no one else is doing!

On your next marketing venture, whether it’s a social media campaign, email marketing, digital display ads, flyers or posters, stop and have a think about whether there is something outlandish and different that you could do that could get people talking – a little spark of bold creativity into your marketing could be the key to making your content and your brand really take off!


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