Famous Old Commercials Get Reinvented in Google’s Project Re:Brief

Jun 27, 2013 • Advertising, Business, Marketing
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Guest article by Hannah Murphy of BlueFirePR

Google challenged several global brands last year to take their most famous commercials and re-create them as digital campaigns. Execs at Google had imagined that interactive technology would open up new possibilities in advertising, so they decided to prime the pump with Project Re:Brief. The project urged advertisers to come up with ads that weren’t even thinkable, much less possible, in pre-Internet days.

Four brands—Coke, Volvo, Alka Seltzer and Avis—created campaigns that ended up on the Project Re:Brief website. Google contacted the the original creators of these brands’ most iconic commercials, paired the creators with digital-age experts, and let them do their thing.

Updating an Ad Means More Than Just Updating an Ad

The ad campaigns didn’t just take the original ads and give them a 21st-century polish. Each advertiser took the core idea from the original commercial and built a suitable successor for the digital age.

Each campaign had to do more than just re-create a single advertisement. In Coke’s case, it created a whole new way to interact with customers. In Volvo’s case, it used existing technology in a way that advertisers have rarely (if ever) used intelligently.

Vending Machines as Feel-Good Product Ambassadors

The most famous ad of the Re:Brief project is known as Coke’s “Hilltop” commercial, created by Harvey Gabor. If that doesn’t ring a bell with you, you probably remember the song (used again in the ’80s in a Christmas commercial) that includes the line, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.”

Internet technology now makes it possible for anyone who clicks a banner ad to do just that. It also enables Coke to create the same warm feeling it did with its original ad. The new “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign lets Internet surfers literally buy a coke for someone in another country. Purchasers also get to record and type a short message (translated by Google Translate), as do the recipients. The results are then edited and uploaded to YouTube.

“Drive it Like You Hate It” Turns Into Decades of Love for a Car

While Coke’s campaign takes a previous ad and extends it to its logical digital-age conclusion, Volvo ad creator Amil Gargano took a different approach. While he kept the “durable car” theme of the original “Drive it Like You Hate It” Volvo commercial, he flipped the other half entirely on its head.

The new campaign centered around a man named Irv Gordon, a retired professor who loves driving his 1966 Volvo P1800s. How much does he love driving it? At the time Gargano found him, about 2.9 million miles’ worth. The campaign centers around Irv’s different road trips, such as “The 260-Mile Dinner Date.” Then, Google’s advanced ad targeted was connect viewers with the part of Irv’s story that was most likely to appeal to each person. Anyone interested could then follow Irv via Google Maps and Google+.

As with Coke’s re-imagining, the new Volvo campaign highlights how vital it is to connect with people on an individual level.  Resources by cable.tv reinforce what we already know, that we use the Internet to keep in touch with loved ones, network with potential employers and land a dream job. Never before has it been so easy to connect with people all over the globe.

Kyle Ellicott

Co-Founder of @EventifyMe, CEO of @Codeita and Heavy Cloud Media Group. I have a strong love and passion for startups. Some say I’m a serial entrepreneur, coder, idea creator, and a nice guy.

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