Yes, the headline of this article is a quote from the movie Gladiator. And no, marketing doesn’t exactly have the same stakes as battling to the death. But marketers are in a battle for eyeballs. Not only are they battling other brands, but literally anything else that can capture their audience’s attention. So today’s marketers are forced to create content that makes people actually want to look up from their phones—or actively search for it so they can share it with others.

According to digital marketing agency Moosylvania, brands that provide either entertainment, build anticipation, or provide another type of value stand a better chance of being shared through social channels. So we asked healthcare marketers to tell us what advertising campaigns entertained them and if our industry can learn anything from these examples.

1. Arby’s: Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

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Under new Chief Marketing Officer and Brand President, Rob Lynch, Arby’s has thrived in creating engagement with its customers during cultural events via social media, according to Tina Fascetti, Chief Creative Officer, Guidemark Health. For instance, during the 2014 Grammy Awards, Arby’s tweeted about the resemblance of Pharrell Williams’ hat to the company’s own brand icon—a message that got more than 80,000 retweets and generated 6,000 new followers.

It paid off once again when Arby’s took on Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, who made the chain the butt of many jokes. Instead of getting offended, the brand embraced it. When Stewart announced his retirement, the brand tweeted: “Jon, feel free to reach out to us at careers@arbys.com.” They even ran a farewell ad during Stewart’s final episode that featured a highlight reel of his best jokes at the brand’s expense (http://bit.ly/1MQs3uM). They got 7,926 tweets about the chain within 13 hours of the ad.

“While many healthcare brands are serious medicines not to be taken lightly, there are many others that don’t need to take themselves so seriously,” Fascetti says. “Those brands have an opportunity to insert themselves into their customers’ lives in fun, entertaining, and delightful ways. This is also a great case for demonstrating that you don’t need a large media budget to get maximum attention for your brand.”

2. Play With Yourself: Reach Your Audience in Surprising Places

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As Stephanie Berman, Partner, The Bloc, explains, Play With Yourself, a campaign from M&C Saatchi and The Blue Ball Foundation in Sydney, quite literally caught its audience with their pants down. Australian men are 21% more likely to get testicular cancer than the world average, yet most men down under don’t check themselves down under. This campaign placed a public health message about how to check yourself for testicular cancer right in the middle of the action during “Game of Balls,” a Game of Thrones parody available on adult entertainment sites, by having porn star Eva Lovia show guys how it is done.

“With 70% of the target audience, ahem, entertaining themselves online, it’s based on the sound marketing principle of going where your customers are,” Berman adds. “With 1.5 million views and more than 200,000 visits to www.playwithyourself.org, this is brave, radical, genius edutainment.”

3. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Create Content, Not Advertisements

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“These days, simply writing a book is only half the battle for authors,” explains Kelly Anderson, Sr. Art Director, Intouch Solutions. “They have to find new ways of reaching audiences that live in the digital age of social interaction. Elizabeth Gilbert’s launch of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear bridged that very gap and created a conversation through digital media that captivated readers before the book was even released.”

As Anderson explains, the campaign involved a podcast called “Magic Lessons.” A select group of fans were encouraged to call and ask the author for her advice about creative living. Then, every week for the two months—leading up to the launch of the book—Gilbert would create a 30-minute podcast around these conversations, along with her heartfelt advice. The campaign provided an intimate extension of the forthcoming book’s message, which was an immediate hit on the New York Times bestseller list.

“The lesson,” Anderson adds, “Don’t just advertise the end product—create content your audience is interested in and feels connected to. They will naturally want to know more.”

4. Citizens Bank: Tug at the Heartstrings

f2_citizens-bank-4“I love ads that entertain,” says Altay Akgun, VP, Creative Director, Calcium USA. “My taste runs strongly toward the humorous, so it’s a bit of a surprise to me that my favorite campaign of 2015 is one that uses heartfelt stories and empathy to evoke trust and generate loyalty.”

That campaign? Citizens Bank’s “Ask a Citizen.” When the bank re-branded its Midwestern retail brand, formerly known as Charter One, they wanted a campaign that would cement the name change in Michigan and Ohio and project trustworthiness and humanity.

The campaign features Citizens’ employees explaining the bank’s services through their own personal stories—struggling to make ends meet, save for college, get a mortgage, etc. Akgun believes the campaign ties right into the corporate DNA through the clever play on “citizen,” and invites the viewer to come meet with someone just like them—not a faceless corporate entity.

“Their clear, powerful, evocative message struck a chord and left a lasting impression, unlike the many forgettable flashy, celebrity- or effects-driven campaigns I know I must have seen but can’t remember,” Akgun adds. “The lesson: Create a clear identity that connects with people, and make that identity part of everything you do.”

5. Doritos: Be Bold, Risky, and Funny

f2_doritos-5“If there is one ceiling in advertising that healthcare marketers can’t seem to break through, it must certainly be comedy,” says Matthew Howes, SVP, Marketing Innovation at PALIO, an inVentiv Health company.

But one brand that has displayed absolutely no trouble at being funny is Doritos. And according to Howes, this year’s “Doritos Ultrasound” Super Bowl commercial (http://bit.ly/1Pwe8Zc) is a prime example of successful brand longevity.

“Despite marginal innovation within the product line itself, the Doritos brand has stood the test of time,” Howes adds. “Their 30-second ad this year did a great job of showing the unconditional love for the brand, in a funny, and mostly memorable way.”

Not only has the ad already amassed more than 1.9 million YouTube Shares, but the Super Bowl spot was merely the gateway to a compilation of racier “banned” Doritos ads that play on taboos and sexual attraction (http://bit.ly/1NuXeLB). You can even binge on Doritos while binging on their ads. What can healthcare companies learn from this?

“Look for opportunities to be bold,” Howes says. “If you’re competing for the attention of diabetes patients, look beyond your competitive set. Your real competitor isn’t another pharmaceutical product—it’s beloved brands like McDonald’s, Coke, Snickers, and yes, Doritos.”

6. Nobska Farms: Add Some Spice With Customer Interactions

f2_nobska-farms-6“The charm of my favorite brand—Nobska Farms—is in the simplicity of its products,” explains Steve Nelson, Senior Digital Producer, inVentiv Creative Studios. “Located on a quarter acre plot less than a mile from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry in Massachusetts, Nobska Farms started with a single product: Rooster’s Rocket Fuel.”

But what makes the brand entertaining to Nelson? The farm hosts contests in which visitors try to “out-pepper” each other by seeing who can eat the hottest pepper the quickest, without begging for a glass of milk. Watching a good friend overestimate his ability to eat spicy food helped make Nelson a fan of the brand for life, despite the fact he no longer even eats hot peppers. Fortunately, Nobska Farms started making honey.

“Good brands evolve, and what started at Nobska Farms—chili peppers—has evolved into a wellness brand, especially as the health effects of hot chili peppers become better known,” Nelson explains. “There’s plenty of joy in visiting the farm, and with several years of farming to its name, Nobska Farms has become a trusted brand in the greater Cape Cod area. As a loyalist of the salsa, honey, and other not-so-hot delicacies, I’m excited to see what comes next.”

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