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For companies like Guinness, Subway and Tim Hortons, the mid-winter lull is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the quiet and start making some noise
For companies like Guinness, Subway and Tim Hortons, the mid-winter lull is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the quiet and start making some noise

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How Guinness, Subway and Tim Hortons beat the winter ad blues Add to ...

Most industries tend to capitalize on a key season. Stores extend their hours for holiday shoppers, fitness centres cater to the January health kick and outdoors-focused retailers ramp up their camping and backyard promotions as spring leads into summer.

So what do brands do when there’s no obvious season to leverage? The holiday season is over, the Olympic craze is still a few weeks away and summer isn’t even on the radar. At first glance, the month of January offers little for brands to get excited about. But for some brands, the mid-winter lull is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the quiet and start making some noise.

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Here’s a look at some companies who have learned to love the winter lull:

Guinness took advantage of the quiet season with their ‘Made of More’ campaign. Through a beautifully crafted video ad, the iconic brand told a compelling story about the power of self-worth. But it was the behind-the-scenes featurette that really stood out. Garnering more attention than the ad itself, the mini-documentary told the real-life stories of the ‘Sapeurs’ featured in the ad. Reinforcing their well-received brand messaging that while you can’t always choose what you do, you can choose who you are, Guinness took advantage of a quiet new cycle to make some noteworthy noise.

Subway recently launched a campaign using 73 animated gifs, serving as the creative force behind a social media ad buy campaign.

Subway’s clever #JanuANY campaign falls at a time when many vow to cut back on eating out after the holiday food and spending splurges. The idea behind the gifs was to encourage consumers to share the digital animations through their own social channels. The unique visual content, produced by Giphy and digital shop 36oi, brought this cross-media social push to life.

The Subway example nicely illustrates how some of the best creative is produced with very little direction from the brand. The creative agencies were only asked to use corporate colours – everything else was left to their imagination. The beauty of this effort lies in its shareability, drawing attention to the Subway brand in a fun way and at a time when relatively little else is vying for consumer attention.

Tim Hortons developed the #JumpTheBoards campaign to capitalize on the national pride that always emerges before the kick-off of the Olympic Games.

Through the Facebook app #JumpTheBoards, Canadians can enter a contest for a chance to skate with Olympic hockey hero Sidney Crosby. Strategically tying into the most recent Tim Hortons commercial featuring Crosby, the multi-faceted campaign celebrates one of Canada’s most iconic brands by paying homage to one of Canada’s most beloved pastimes.

Adding a layer of interactivity to the initiative, every time someone shares the commercial, they fill one more seat in Tim Hortons virtual hockey arena, helping to create the largest virtual audience possible for the good ol’ hockey game.

Each of these brands were successful thanks to their engaging (and shareable) campaigns during the post-holiday lull. By generating excitement in the period between obvious brand moments – rather than competing with the noise – these brands not only scored memorable PR wins, but they effectively positioned themselves as bold and creative industry leaders.

So next time the timing just doesn’t feel right for your brand, ask yourself if there’s a way your brand can be right for the timing.

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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