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Inbound vs Outbound in Advertising
By: Cameron Kirkwood
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Why I'm phrasing the title like it's some political debate, I have no clue; however, much like politics, I do have a clear side. I absolutely despise outbound marketing.

Yes, I know it will always exist. Yes, it's practiced by small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike, and yes, I understand its use (to an extent). However, there is something that just irks my insides like nails to a chalkboard at the thought of using outbound's most notorious forms of advertising: pop-up ads or an email blast. Even commercials and print ads can fall under the umbrella of outbound; however, there is a fine line between traditional media and its extremist counterparts.

Social media truly erupted this wave of inbound, and, quite frankly, I don't understand why we would ever go back. Where outbound puts out content in a singular direction, inbound acts as a two-way street, or a conversation — a conversation of advertising.

Now doesn't that sound wonderful? The reason consumers evolved to despise traditional advertising is because of the mass amount of uncontrollable media shoved in their faces every day. But what if it doesn't feel like it's being forced in front of you?

Most brands have social media accounts, but are they actually using them to communicate with their followers, or do they just have them to have them? Content marketing is predicted to triple in size over the next few years, and smart brands have already hopped on the train.

Instead of just pushing advertising one way, you can utilize inbound to work with consumers to literally advertise for you without it feeling like advertising at all. I love advertising, but the best advertising is advertising that doesn't feel like it's advertising at all. Trying saying that one 10 times over.

And all these are just some of the possibilities of inbound existent on the digital realm. Now advertising has used this premise to evolve towards all kinds of different possibilities — right under our noses. My absolute favorite form of advertising to really hit the ground running in recent years is experiential. It's like taking this social aspect of communicating inbound advertising over social media, and materializing it into a real live form. Whenever I babble on to someone about experiential campaigns like I am right now, I always reference a few of my all-time favorite campaigns, which I'll link to at the bottom.

Vancouver Agency Rethink did a campaign for Splashdown Water Park where they set up human-height barrels filled to the brim with water and placed them all over the city. The agency put tickets for the waterpark at the bottom of these buckets and in fountains and dared consumers to dive in and get wet in preparation for the waterpark. It was a huge success.

That is awesome. People in full suits, dresses, etc. all partook, and the video made around the campaign went viral. I don't know about you, but that sounds a hell of a lot better than direct mail.

Back when I was in College, Coke was doing a tour where they put Huggable Coke Machines on campuses around North America. Once hugged, the machine would dispense a free coke. Yayyy! The campaign of course got huge social traction and was a pure delight for the perfect demographic. The campaign was created in 2012 by Ogilvy & Mather and has been 'touring' ever since. I do believe however, that the concept originated from Definition 6's 'Happiness Machine.'

This is just the start. Soon, more innovative ideas and new medias will come to light. VR. Whatever new social media the kids will pick up on. I even hear that dreamvertising might be a thing?

Gosh, how we've grown. The future is inbound, baby, and you're either in or you're out. (See what I did there?)

Amazing Experiential (or real-life inbound) Campaigns:

“Get Wet”
Agency: Rethink

“Insure for Anything – Submarine Emerges in Street”
Agency: M&C Saatchi

“Hug a Coke Machine”
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Singapore

“LG Ultra TV - Meteor”
Agency: Grupo:Link

Agency: John St.

Agency: Rethink

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About the Author
Cameron Kirkwood is a recent graduate, but a forever student of advertising. An aspiring brand strategist and digital aficionado, Cameron seeks to change the game through new and different channels of advertising in an ever extensively growing industry.
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