Top 10 Craziest Advertising Campaigns That Actually Worked



Top 10 Craziest Advertising Campaigns That Actually Worked

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Callum Janes
These unconventional advertising techniques are crazy! For this list, we'll be looking at outlandish methods that companies used to advertise their products or services that proved successful, even if the success was just good publicity. Our countdown includes Free Air Guitar Giveaway, Unicorn Poop Ice Cream, $3 Million Bus Stop, and more!

Top 10 Crazy Advertising Campaigns That Actually Worked

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Crazy Advertising Campaigns That Actually Worked.

For this list, we’ll be looking at outlandish methods that companies used to advertise their products or services that proved successful, even if the success was just good publicity.

Are there any notable campaigns we missed? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Free Air Guitar Giveaway

When you think of advertising, you probably think of something visual. So if you’re advertising a radio station, you’ve got to get a bit creative. In an attempt to appeal to their fanbase, 96.3 Rock Radio, based in Glasgow, came up with a plan. So on the sidewalk and below their logo, they gave away free guitars… of the air variety. Anyone in public could “grab” one and “rock out” to the newest station in town. It was a unique idea that turned the heads of a few media outlets, giving them free news coverage to spread the word.

#9: Pregnancy Test Coupon

Whenever you receive a coupon in the mail, it’s probably going into the recycling. But would you do that if you knew it was also a free pregnancy test? In 2018, IKEA ran an ad in “Amelia,” a Swedish women’s magazine. The page featured a crib and a message below that stated, “Peeing on this ad may change your life.” Upon urinating on it, one would get a pregnancy result and a coupon if positive. That’s right, IKEA wanted you to pee on a magazine for a coupon. It got the company in the news, but it’s doubtful any employees wanted to accept a pee-stained coupon.

#8: Colgate Ice Cream Sticks

Colgate is in the business of public health. As long as there’s a need for teeth brushing, people will buy their toothpaste. But what if kids forget to do the daily brush? That’s apparently where the advertising agency Young & Rubicam comes in. Colgate partnered with local ice cream manufacturers in Thailand to help remind kids to brush their teeth after chowing down. To raise awareness, they molded the wooden sticks inside ice cream bars to look like toothbrushes! And on those little sticks are the words “Don’t forget.” Now, you obviously can’t brush your teeth with wood, but they were an excellent reminder to people that with every sweet treat, you’ve gotta brush your teeth.

#7: $5,000 Rings Embedded in Candles

New trends can come out of nowhere, or they can come from combining two successful products. While shopping for an engagement ring, Diamond Candles co-founder David Clayton came across some scented candles. After pairing his wife Brenda’s love for candles with this beautiful piece of jewelry, a product was born. While creating the candles, the founders would place a ring inside worth anywhere between $10 to $5,000! It’s almost like entering the lottery; burn the candle to relax and combine it with the thrill of maybe finding an expensive ring at the bottom. While you usually wouldn’t pair candles and rings together, they proved to be an effective combination in marketing.

#6: Unicorn Poop Ice Cream

Whenever you’re advertising a product, it can go one of two ways: be sensible and explain the benefits of your product, or go outlandish so people will remember your product no matter what. The Squatty Potty is a small step that elevates a pooper’s legs to improve the ability to eliminate waste from passages. Obviously, no one likes talking about how they do their business, so Squatty Potty dressed it up with some fanciful imagery. This turned into easily one of the strangest advertisements ever seen. Every company wants their products to go viral, but not every company has the guts to show a unicorn pooping ice cream and kids eating it to get there.

#5: Skittles Broadway Musical

There are several levels of being self-aware in advertising. There’s not being aware, being somewhat aware, and then being full-blown meta. That’s precisely what “Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical” was. Back in 2019, Mars brought together countless theatre professionals to put together a musical that was about creating a musical to advertise Skittles. The show makes fun of itself, with actors placed in the audience actively disparaging the performance they are a part of. They even have a song called “Advertising Ruins Everything!” It was a fantastic and immersive experience that sadly was only shown once. We mean, it definitely got you thinking about Skittles, right?

#4: KFC Gaming Console

If there’s a company that has tapped into their true meme potential, it’s KFC. Name another company that commissioned a visual novel or romantic drama featuring the iconic Colonel Sanders. But by far one of the most surprising pieces of advertising by the food chain has to be the KFC gaming console. Loaded with some of the latest firmware, the KFConsole boasts ray tracing, up to 4K resolution, and its signature “Chicken Chamber” for keeping your delicious KFC meal warm. While the console has yet to be released to the public, it’s already introduced a new type of gaming we don’t think anyone knew they needed.

#3: $3 Million Bus Stop

You can tout your products’ legendary abilities all you want, but there will always be naysayers. So why not dangle a very lucrative carrot in front of people and let them try it for themselves? In 2005, 3M loaded a glass bus stop in Vancouver with 3 million Canadian Dollars, daring passers-by to break it. If they did, the money was theirs. It was an absolutely insane investment, but the people who actually gave it a go couldn’t get at it for the life of them! Naturally, the ridiculous stunt went viral, showing that you really can trust 3M’s protective glass.

#2: Renaming a Town

Back in the early days of online shopping, you couldn’t just stick up some Facebook ads as not everyone’s eyes had yet turned to the Internet. So when entrepreneurs Josh Kopelman and Sunny Balijepalli were trying to advertise their e-commerce website, they decided to try something completely outlandish. In exchange for $110,000, on top of other small favors, the town of Halfway, Oregon renamed itself for one year. It was the first city in the world to name itself after a, which placed the website on maps everywhere! It was some pretty intuitive advertising and led to the company being bought by Ebay a year later for $350 million.

#1: Seagull Sunscreen Drones

Don’t you just hate it when a bird drops you a little surprise? Well, how would you feel if that bird was a drone and that surprise was free sunscreen? Nivea’s commercial of a robot seagull pooping sunscreen on unsuspecting beach-goers was ridiculed everywhere. However, the company knew what it was doing, even entering the advertisement into the Cannes Lions competition for marketing. While advertiser John Hegarty described it as the “most stupid thing I think I've seen in my whole life,” it did what Nivea intended it to do. We’re talking about it, aren’t we? And now people will be a lot more aware of when they see a Nivea product on their shelves.