Marketing Campaigns That Worked in 2016

Columns - PPMA Pulse

December 13, 2016

As pest control marketers, we are constantly tasked with finding innovative ways to connect with a consumer base that is more educated, empowered and savvy than ever before. Our messages need to resonate and provide value while also cutting through the clutter. And, let’s face it, coming up with new ideas yearly can be a bit of challenge for even the most creative minds. It’s good practice to learn from fellow marketers, regardless of their industry, and take a look back at successful campaigns that worked to help inspire and fuel ideas we can use in our own programs.

The following are a few of my favorite marketing campaigns of 2016, along with some lessons to consider for 2017.

Thinking Big With an Edible Home Sweepstakes

Inspiration: To generate buzz about Chobani’s latest product line, the Greek yogurt powerhouse partnered with local chefs and landscapers to design the Chobani Meze Home. The multi-million dollar townhouse in the heart of New York City contained more than 25 types of produce used as “edible spoons” for the new Chobani Meze Dips. They decorated the house in fresh, beautiful, edible crudités, and invited the media to taste-test the product in every room of the house. The company also launched a sweepstakes prompting entrants to share “how they dip” for the chance to win a weekend stay for four in the edible home. In total, Chobani received nearly 10,000 sweepstakes entries and more than 400 earned media placements, resulting in 300 million media impressions.

Chobani received nearly 10,000 sweepstakes entries and 400+ earned media placements, resulting in 300 million media impressions.
© Rawpixelimages |

Why It Worked: The Chobani marketing team made a smart decision to incorporate a user-generated contest into the mix. Simply building the Chobani Meze Home for the media tour would not have been enough to get such a large volume of people talking about the new product line. But, running a sweepstakes for a chance to win a stay in the home engaged directly with consumers and started the conversation on social media.

What We Can Learn: Contests and sweepstakes remain a tried-and-true promotional tactic for many industries, including ours, due to their ease and effectiveness of engaging with a targeted audience. The best part about contests is you can scale them as big or as small as you please (or to what your budget allows). Try testing out a small test contest by posting a pest photo on your Facebook page and asking your fans to guess the species in the comments for a chance to win a $25 gift card. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the engagement results. Then, grow from there!

Winning the Presidential Debate on Twitter

Inspiration: Merriam-Webster arguably stole the show during the second presidential debate by tweeting insights into both candidates’ word choices, firing off witty tweets within 60 seconds of when each word was said. They also tweeted interesting data points about the words that sent people to in search of definitions. This real-time marketing tactic was a huge success for the dictionary publisher, as it saw a 15,500 percent increase in its website searches for one word, alone. Talk about capitalizing on the moment and a huge win!

Why It Worked: The marketing folks at Merriam-Webster reacted fast and created content that was on brand and hyper-relevant to its fans. They were clever and consistent throughout the debate, getting both attention and retweets in the moment, and direct website traffic.

Merriam-Webster drove real-time traffic via political definitions on Twitter.

What We Can Learn: Successful real-time marketing campaigns hinge on sharing the right content with the right people at the right time. That said, social media provides us with the ability to react almost instantaneously to news or special events — and pest control companies are no different. The Professional Pest Management Alliance found success with a similar tactic in 2015 by repurposing a viral photo of Richard Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks with a stunned look on his face, taken during the Super Bowl. We overlaid the photo with text that said, “When you find out the groundhog saw his shadow” and shared it on @PestWorld’s Facebook page for Groundhog Day. The post remains one of our most popular on the page.

If you are considering getting your feet wet in the real-time marketing space, it’s best to plan ahead as much as possible. Make sure anyone who needs to approve your social media content is available to chime in at a moment’s notice and understands restrictions associated with using certain names or terms, such as “Olympics,” in brand advertising.

Claiming the 8th Wonder of the World

Inspiration: The Tourism Partnership of Niagara launched a grassroots campaign in partnership with McCann Canada this year to boost general travel to the area and its falls. The company called on Canadians to show their support by sharing why it deserved the elusive title of the “8th Wonder of the World,” using the hashtag #ClaimThe8th. A handful of 30-second videos were also produced and posted as part of the cheeky campaign to depict how the destination stacks up in comparison to other landmarks. The campaign resulted in thousands of people talking about Niagara on social media in a short period of time — all while using a hashtag for the company to track performance.

Why It Worked: This is a great example of how staking a claim on something that is “up for grabs” is an effective tactic to tell a brand’s story. The Tourism Partnership of Niagara found that there is no official, governing body that controls the credentials for the famous “wonders of the world” designation, so they jumped on the opportunity to seize the title.

What We Can Learn: Thinking big and about what makes your company or service standout can be both newsworthy and pride-inducing for your employees and community. PPMA has employed the use of designations, such as National Pest Management Month, Termite Awareness Week, Bed Bug Awareness Week and Rodent Awareness Week, and uses the celebrations to attract media attention around key pest issues. Whether you create your own community effort or piggyback on an established event (feel free to join us in our celebrations), use the timeliness and newsworthiness to your advantage.

A CHALLENGE. These examples are just a sampling of the many clever campaigns available as a source of inspiration for your own marketing plans. With the New Year just around the corner, I challenge you to take time to research other successful marketing campaigns and find one that resonates with you. Then, take the core principles and apply them when brainstorming new marketing efforts. Maybe this exercise will spark your next big idea!

Cindy Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance and vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. She can be reached at For more about PPMA, visit