Pay Per Chuckle: how to be creative and fun with your PPC campaigns

“Today, children, we’re going to be talking about careers. So, tell me, what jobs would you like to do when you are grown-ups?”

“Astronaut, miss.”

“Footballer, miss.”

“PPC Executive, miss.”

Yeah, I wouldn’t imagine that this is a common answer being shouted back to a Primary School Teacher. Indeed, my grandparents tend to look back at me blankly when I tell them that I look after PPC for a living.

Conclusion: PPC is not known to be a fashionable arm of brand marketing.

And yet, as somebody that looks after PPC, this is not an elaborate way of handing my notice in. On the contrary, if I still have your attention, allow me a few more minutes to convince you that PPC can be FUN.

But first, for the benefit of my grandparents and anybody else that doesn’t actually know what PPC is… an explainer;

PPC stands for pay-per-click. It means a business pays for people to click on their website (Ronseal stole the slogan that PPC patient zero wanted to use).

I won’t bore you all by going into the ins and outs of how it all works *he nervously types hoping that nobody ever wants a full explanation of how it works* but your top-line guide is as follows:

You decide which searches you would like your business to appear under as a clickable advert with a link to your website (most PPC campaigns are done on Google) – this is called your keywords

  • You decide how much money you are willing to spend for a click to your website
  • You write the advert
  • You set the advert live
  • You hope* that your business then appears on the search
  • Job done

*Disclaimer: it’s not as simple as that because…competitors, because budget, because search volume, because life. Here’s to hoping that makes a bit of sense.

Anyway, I’m here to jazz PPC up, which could be seen as a challenge because, to be fair to myself, most PPC campaigns are functional. Businesses and brands will ask to appear on searches relevant to their products and services, their ads will mention their unique selling points and a call to action.

99% of PPC campaigns are like this. That’s not a bad thing either, they usually do a great job of generating traffic to a website. But it’s because of successful functional campaigns like this which have given PPC a reputation of being that boring thing that you have to do.

So, I want to look at the other 1% of PPC campaigns that have personality, are creative and can actually be the envy of an experiential PR team working on a trendy client’s meaty budget.

Below are some brilliant examples of PPC campaigns that looked outside the box, raised some eyebrows and did an all-round awesome job:

Snickers – 2013

Remember that ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign? You may recall one of them featured Joan Collins.

I know it’s 2013 and it feels like an old example, but stay with me. As well as the TV ads, they ran it as a Google PPC campaign too.

They did their keyword research and obtained the 500 most-searched terms on Google. With that, they then worked out the most common miss-spellings of each word and ran adverts on each specific miss-spelling. Business > buisness. Accident > acident – etc…

Going off the concept that you miss-spell words when you’re hungry, Snickers appeared with an advert on the common miss-spellings that then encouraged people to grab a Snickers!

Confused? It’s an easier watch.

The result: In two days they generated over 500k impressions and over 5k clicks to a special campaign landing page. Clever.

Alec Brownstein – 2010

Not strictly a brand campaign, but a brilliant one nonetheless.

Alec was a frustrated copywriter in a boring job. He wanted to work for a top New York creative agency… but so does everybody else in the industry.

To stand out from the crowd, Alec used his head.

He noticed that the top Creative Directors in New York had no ads appearing under a search of their name. He also figured that a person in this lofty career position is likely to have an ego and would likely Google their own name.

He created adverts ‘targeting’ the people he wanted to work for. The copy was “Hey, XYZ. Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.”

The advert went through to an online CV that he had created for himself.

The result: Sure enough, they Googled their name, they clicked his ad and, you guessed it, he got hired! The whole campaign cost Alec less than a fiver in British money.

More info here.

Competitor bidding is a common, naughty (but legal) thing to do for rebels of the PPC world – the last two are great examples of competitor bidding.

Conservative Party – 2017

Politics, PPC and funny. Yes, I really put those three things in a sentence.

The Tory party clearly had a savvy operator in their marketing team for the 2017 General election.

When somebody typed ‘Liberal Democrats’ – an ad would appear for the Conservative Party which read: ‘Thinking of voting Lib Dem? – You could be making Corbyn PM’ and further down ‘A vote for the Lib Dems puts Jeremy Corbyn closer to No.10. Don’t risk it.’

Regardless of political persuasion and whether Corbyn being PM, in your opinion would have been a good thing, you have to be impressed at the audacity of the campaign.

The result: Nobody voted Lib Dems. The Conservatives got in. And now here we are.

Samsung – 2015 (but probably still today too)

The battle of the smartphone giants… Samsung used PPC in a desperate attempt to steal some customers off Apple.

Under a search of ‘iPhone 6S’ around its release date in 2015, Samsung launched an advert which read: ‘Awkward You Obviously – Mean 6S –’

Chuckle chuckle.

The result: It failed… PPC isn’t a guarantee of success (doesn’t everybody have an iPhone?)

So there you have it. Hopefully I’ve opened your eyes to the fact that PPC isn’t just a Friday-night-drinking-tea sort of marketing tool, and that actually PPC can sometimes let its hair down, have a shandy and a dance on a school night. Wild.

Whether you’re after the tea-drinking PPC or the shandy-dancing PPC, the team at Think Studio would love to discuss the options with you. Get in touch today, and we can chat.

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