I've been thinking a lot about how to create a successful social media strategy.  Nowadays, everyone and their mother (literally) has a blog, a Facebook, and a Twitter and it's becoming harder and harder to differentiate yourself from the masses.  It's been less than 2 years since Social Media has become "the next big thing" and it seems like things are already moving into a new area of innovation.

I can't help but think of recent campaign from agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky called "Shocking Barack" when I try and think of the future of social media.  At the heart of the campaign there is Facebook, Twitter, and a blog, but the execution of the campaign has created something that transcends traditional media standards and makes way for a whole new type of innovation.

Imagine a company comes to you with the question, "How can you increase brand awareness for our brand of electric motorcycles?"  This is essentially the question Brammo, a racing and motorcycle company out of Oregon, asked of CP&B.  While the traditional components of social media were involved, the agency took things to the next level by proposing a mobile documentary, outlining the journey of a Crispin creative director and a Brammo bike designer as they attempt to present President Barack Obama with an electric bike of his own.

A quote from ShockingBarack.com says it best:

"Our plan is to retrace the route of the automotive CEOs who went to Washington DC asking for government loans. But instead of looking for aid, we'd like to present President Obama with a homegrown solution to the transportation crisis. And instead of flying in a corporate jet, we're riding Brammo Enertia powercycles. We're just a couple of guys who work for Brammo, but we want to show that there's a better way to get from Point A to Point B. And we want to have a little fun while we're doing it. So join us as we surf from plug to plug in a quest to meet Obama, fueled by nothing more than electricity and the kindness of everyday Americans."

It sounds like a basic idea at heart, but what truly makes this one of the greatest social media campaigns in recent history, is the social media coverage and interactive tools that make the campaign 100% social.  

At its heart ShockingBarack is a blog.  Sure, the riders update each day from the road, tell stories of traveling, and share what they have learned from the journey.  But the true entertainment comes in the form of video diaries outlining the daily trials and tribulations the riders face.  For example, in this video below, you'll find the two riders asking the owner of a local laundromat if they can charge their bikes inside the establishment.  Little things that make for an exciting journey and an interesting look at how you can essentially travel anywhere, anytime, as long as you have electricity.  
Another aspect of social media are links to literally every possible aspect of the journey.  On the site, you can email the White House to inform them of the trip, you can Tweet the location of the riders while you view their exact position on a GPS enabled map, you can inform the riders of your location and offer them an invite to sleep on your couch, or you can even send them your name and have them engrave it on the bike.  

It's campaigns like this that are truly shaping the advertising industry and the strategy companies are implementing through social media.  Who would've thought of sending two men on a journey to the White House just to sell some bikes.  

While most companies can't afford 24/hour news coverage, a team of creatives taking a 6,000 mile journey, or the creative concept behind a cutting-edge website with every social media tool in the book, this is just the beginning.  Brammo took a leap and made a lasting impact on the industry.  

As you'll see below, in the end, they never made it to the President himself.  In life, some roads just end.  In the case of Brammo, they hit some bumps and took a few wrong turns, but in the process created a campaign that will remain on the road forever.  They traveled 6,000 miles at a total cost of $4.52.  How's that for gas mileage?

Here's the final video from the guys on ShockingBarack.  They weren't able to give the President the bike, but they left it in Washington in hopes he'd get the message.  As they say in the video below, "It's not the fairytale ending we'd hoped for, but it's a real one and that might even be better."
In order to truly understand this campaign, you almost have to check it out for yourself.  Feel free to visit ShockingBarack.com to see how the entire campaign went down.  I think it's one of the most inspiring uses of social media, but maybe I've just fell of my bike too many times.
11/3/2009 02:47:29 am

Social Media documenting a great journey. Even though they were not able to present the motorcycle to the President,it was a journey second to none. Great article.


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