Every year the holiday season is packed with emotionally charged ads, promos and brand marketing that make our hearts melt. Sometimes brands manage to create content gold. Other times they fail and create content coal. This year, so far, the gold prize for super awesomeness in holiday content, advertising and PR goes to…(drum roll, please)… the UPS Wishes Delivered campaign.
Wishes Delivered is a crowd-sourced donation based promotion that’s tied to making the wishes of a few of their customers come true. On a base level, it works like this:
- The program starts with an online experience, powered by Thismoment. Customers upload their holiday wishes using the hashtag #wishesdelivered.
- UPS moderators review all of the hashtag wishes submitted by customers and approved wishes are posted to a media wall.
- For every wish uploaded using the #wishesdelivered hashtag, UPS donates $1 to the Boys & Girls Club of America, The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots, for up to a $100K maximum donation.
- The promotion would have been cool if it ended there. It’s what UPS does next that took the entire program from silver to gold. They make some of the wishes come true.
Meet Carson, the world’s cutest UPS driver
Caron is four years old, and like a lot of people, he loves getting mail. In his case, he is partial to UPS deliveries. Early in life he had a medical condition that required the regular delivery of a special formula, which is where he got to know veteran UPS driver Ernie (AKA Mr. Ernie).
Carson and Mr. Ernie became fast friends, and it’s touching to see Carson’s eyes light up when he sees Mr. Ernie pull up to his house. After seeing his reaction to Mr. Ernies arrival, it comes as no surprise that Carson would like to become a UPS driver when he grows up. What happens next is simply amazing.
What makes this campaign content gold?
There are a million ways a marketing campaign can come together, and the choices marketers make as they plan will determine if their creation will go gold, silver, bronze or… coal. In the case of UPS Wishes Delivered, gold status came through 4 key factors:
- It’s content, not advertising: Content works for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that consumers are jaded by traditional advertising. They want stories rather than a sales pitch. UPS could have created an ad, talking about how they deliver millions of packages full of wishes and make people happy because they do their job well. They could have offered a shipping discount or simply created urgency by reminding people of holiday shipping deadlines. Nope. Instead of looking to motivating people to get their packages mailed, they looked to connect with people in a non-sales, content rich manner.
- It’s emotional/heartwarming storytelling with REAL people: UPS brilliantly realized that they were better off engaging their customers to deliver their message than hiring actors. They looked to user-generated content (UGC) to engage with real people and real wishes for the holiday season, creating an authentic connection between brand and customer.
- It has video: UPS understands that video content is a great way to get the ball rolling when launching a campaign. People love video. Upon launching the Upon launching the campaign they featured a video about what they had planned on the Wishes Delivered website. Then, they followed up with regular video releases as they started delivering wishes, including Carson’s story, Let it snow (in South Texas), Books to Malawi, the singing UPS Driver and (I’m guessing) more to come…
- It’s a multi-channel/integrated marketing campaign: There are many ways launch a campaign, and these days as we find our audiences fragmented across many channels online. Marketers are best off looking to all channels for maximum impact. UPS cast the net wide by creating a central website for the campaign, utilizing all of their major social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube), getting PR involved and their own publication/blog, Compass.
What can we learn from UPS Wishes Delivered?
As with most solid gold content marketing programs, marketers can learn a lot from the success of UPS Wishes Delivered. Five content marketing lessons leap to mind:
- Engage with customers: Gone are the days of one-way communication, find ways to insert the voice of your customer into your marketing in an authentic and organic way. If this feels overwhelming look to those who use UGC well for inspiration.
- Do some things for good, just because: Your customers, like all people, love stories about how brands help people/causes they care about. Look to your brand mission to identify charities that make sense for your brand and find ways to build an authentic connection. Use this an opportunity to allow your brand to tell a story that is purely for good. If done well, your customers will love it.
- Give your customers gifts: People love gifts, and your customers are no exception. You do not need to send a gift to every customer, but find ways to surprise and delight your customers through creativity and generosity. I know of is WestJet’s Christmas Miracle campaign. Yes, more content gold.
- Format your campaign to fit with your brand story: What is the connection between UPS and the holiday spirit? UPS delivers packages and packages contain Christmas wishes. The connection between the two is simple and simplicity results in the strongest campaigns.
- Moderate UGC: UGC is an amazing way for brands to engage with customers, but the very fact that the content is coming from an unknown source represents a risk. You never know what someone might upload. As such, it’s important to monitor and approve content before it goes live to your site.
Success? How are they doing so far?
To start, Carson and Mr. Ernie’s video has over 2 million views.
I reached out to the PR team at Meltwater for some quick metrics, and so far the #wishesdelivered hashtag has delivered over 40,000 social media mentions and 80+ PR stories have been published, bringing more than 200 million potential views.
Content gold, indeed!
We all look for inspiration in our daily work, and it’s amazing when we’re able to find an example that succeeds on multiple levels. The UPS Wishes Delivered campaign combines touching human-interest content with inspiring marketing to deliver content gold, a fantastic winning combination to inspire marketers this holiday season.