Ogilvy&#39s innovative MK campaign


Of all the awards that Ogilvy Johannesburg took this year for its innovative integrated digital campaign “MK is’, Pendoring’s highest accolade – the Prestige Award – is “extra special’.

According to Ogilvy Johanensburg creative director Mariana O’Kelly, this is not only because it broke the drought in Pendoring’s digital categories, but because it was the first digital entry ever to be announced the overall Pendoring winner.

Fran Luckin, Ogilvy Johannesburg executive creative director, will decide the member of the creative team who will receive the overseas study trip of R50 000, which forms part of the Prestige Award.

In April “MK is’ took two sought-after Pencils at the 50th annual D&AD awards ceremony in London, one of only three South African agencies to be awarded there this year. At the One Show in New York, the campaign took two awards, and at this year’s Loerie Awards it walked away with gold, silver and bronze.

According to O’Kelly, the MK campaign started to evolve more than a year ago when former MK marketing manager Haddad Viljoen approached Ogilvy Johannesburg to create an innovative campaign to raise awareness among the younger folk of the ongoing introduction of new music groups on this popular music channel.

“As the target market of 16-25-year-old music lovers do not like it that brands merely talk to them and to hear how nice and cool they are, we decided that MK had to become part and parcel of this group, living life with them each and every day,’ she explains.

“Instead of the usual Power Point presentation with the appropriate visual material, we basically depicted the “journey’ of three characters on a black board in the client’s office…and he immediately and unconditionally bought into the concept. This was the most gratifying moment of the entire project,’ O’Kelly recalls.

No sooner said than done, and three MK characters were created for the MK is campaign, each doing his/her thing over a period of 20 days. Daily episodes, which were broadcast on MK, gave viewers a voyeuristic look into the life of each character, encouraging them to interpret the brand in their own way and draw parallels to their own experiences.

“Each episode was broadcast only once each day. If, for example, the specific character attended a party in the evening, it was broadcast at exactly the same time. At the same time each episode was synchronised with daily Facebook posts, blog entries and tweets that filled in the rest of the story; in other words the story behind the story which viewers didn’t necessarily see on the MK channel,’ O’Kelly explains.

In addition, viewers could also become friends with the different characters via mobile phone and ask anything pertaining to the story. In turn, the character would reply to that, just like a normal friend would. After 20 days, a new character with a new story line appeared on the scene, and thus, all three characters became an integral part of the target market.

“Our aim was that the campaign should stimulate debate and engagement by treating the target market to genuine entertainment in real time, across a number of platforms. At the same time, the campaign clearly conveyed the message to the target market that, just when you think you know MK, the channel comes up with new and innovative surprises, sometimes up to 20 a day,’ O’Kelly points out.

The brainchild of 1984, a specialised department within Ogilvy that relies on content creation to find new ways of engaging consumers, “MK is’ was filmed in just 10 days. In keeping with the general theme, the 60-episode campaign was shot with no script, no schedule, and a single video camera in the capable hands of renowned American Apparel photographer Purienne, who made the long trip from LA simply because he fell in love with the idea.

“At Ogilvy we work together in “brand liberation teams’, and this allowed me the opportunity to work very closely with these dynamic three creatives to give effect to the MK is. The client’s cooperation and support throughout the creative process were truly amazing.

“As the concept completely turns the conventional campaign approach on its head, the client had to dream along with us about the potential of the campaign and the success that it could achieve. This was exactly what happened. In fact, it was utterly refreshing, because all too often clients expect to see the end result of a project, which is then completely watered down,’ explains O’Kelly.

The resulting footage is gritty, unrefined and honest, and more often than not, pretty controversial too. It deviates significantly from traditional ad campaigns in that it includes no logo, tag line or link to MK the channel in general (other than the fact that the episodes are screened on MK). No fewer than 22 new bands were recruited especially for the campaign. Moreover, two of the groups that performed in the Pop-up Bar scene, received contracts from MK and, within two weeks, were fifth on the MK hit parade.

Research clearly shows that the campaign hit the sweet spot: before the campaign, the MK Facebook page had 83,000 friends – each of whom, on average, had 84 friends. The “MK is’ Facebook page, launched by the campaign, attracted 467 people in the youth target market, each of whom had, on average, 457 friends.

These highly influential people not only loved the new MK personalities, they were also posting the campaign stories in their feeds, giving a potential reach of 208,000 friends or fans. Of those, 20,000 interacted for the first time with the MK story in a post from a friend’s feed. In short: the “MK is’ fans were four times more influential than the existing MK fan base. In addition, “MK is’ elicited more than 90,000 Facebook interactions within 60 days.

Obviously all the MK is stories also played out on YouTube and at a stage were sixth on South Africa’s most watched video list – a big achievement for a relatively small niche channel like MK, says O’Kelly.

To take MK to new heights, a new interactive campaign is already on the table, but at this stage O’Kelly will reveal no more.


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