Ann Summers was looking to drive awareness of its brand online and to enhance its 'edginess', using new and innovative channels. Paid-search marketing doesn't at first appear to be a particularly sexy or edgy marketing tactic in itself, although the radical solution employed by the retailer would play on the brand's edginess whilst attracting huge volumes of eyeballs at a relatively low cost.
By using paid search as a brand marketing tool - by bidding on high volume, topical keywords with cheeky and humorous campaigns, Ann Summers generated significant eyeballs online and PR benefits offline.
The strategy was not to deliver clicks, but instead to leverage the paid search mechanic to cheekily insert the Ann Summers brand into unusual places.
Topical campaigns included:
British Airways strikes - bid on strike-related keywords with ad copy saying 'The planes may be grounded, but you can still join the mile high club!'
Budget 2010 - bid on budget 2010 related keywords with ad copy saying 'There's no recession in pleasure'
Snow 2010 - bid on snow-related ketwords with ad copy saying 'Stay in and stay warm with our steamy sex toys'
Election 2010 - bid on election related keywords with ad creative saying 'Visit Ann Summers & find out why we believe in a well hung parliament' and 'We specialist in long, hard elections!'
The campaigns generated significant volumes of impressions, not just from the ads themselves, but also from ancillary PR. The ads generated over 1.5 million impressions for a spend of less than £4,500 - a CPM of 0.003p
The campaigns were covered in the national media, with the Independent writing about the budget campaign and the Guardian commenting on the BA strike activity, as well as across social media outlets