Florian Fuehren

Just like at NASA, the ideal approach to your product launch can either leave your competitors or your own brand in a cloud of dust.

Done right, your product launch checklist will not only match customer feedback and your business strategy but also your target audience’s taste. Let’s look at some examples of brands that succeeded in achieving that.

1. Fiat: No New Product, But No More Gray

What do we do when we grow tired of something? Most of us either chuck it in a bucket or we slap some paint on it. Well, Fiat did both. That brings us to the first example of a product launch strategy that’s not just about a new model or service but about marketing strategy in general.

To celebrate the company’s commitment to la dolce vita as part of a soft launch, their CEO Olivier François stepped into a Fiat 600, rolled up the window and had it dumped in a bucket of bright orange paint.

Considering that, as François himself points out, gray is car manufacturers’ favorite color, it’s a bold move to step away from that business. D&AD surely noticed that and put Fiat’s marketing campaign on the shortlist for several awards.

Against a colorful backdrop of vibrant clotheslines, cafés and squeaky orange alleyways, he explains that gray may be a great color for German or Japanese car makers, but not for a launch event celebrating the Italian way of life. A subtle way of linking all the things we love about Italy to Fiat’s brand and every potential customer. “You enjoy pasta and life in general? Then we’ve got something for you…”

Fiat has reinvented itself hundreds of times since it was founded. Even its logo has changed every couple of years. For a marketing team like Fiat’s, the challenge often lies in expressing continuity and innovation at the same time. Rather than mimicking competitors who tend to tie their launch success to a demand for novelty in model specs or eco-friendliness, Fiat made one bold step and claimed an entire way of life for its content marketing. Timeless.

2. Oraimo’s Product Launch — Into Space

Space is certainly a recurring theme in digital marketing, or even in product launch events. Audi used to show us how taking the R8 for a spin rekindled a retired astronaut’s zest for life, and Apple’s famous 1984 commercial had a certain futuristic space theme, building a loyal tribe that would defend every seemingly odd step in product development for years beyond this launch day.

So we can’t really say that Oraimo is going where no product managers have gone before, but they did put a new spin on their digital marketing strategy’s sci-fi theme. Where Audi leveraged the theme of space exploration and Apple that of a dystopian future, Oraimo positioned their new product as a space invader. 

Not only that, they also shared a comic book series in a social media post as part of their product marketing to create buzz around their marketing efforts.

That only goes to show how much solid target market research and smart insights will shape your product launch ideas, even when the theme remains the same. Audi appears to target one very specific age group, whereas Oraimo speaks to comic enthusiasts irrespective of age. You can’t say that one is better suited for a successful launch, but knowing those nuances to use both types in your pre-launch marketing is helpful.

3. Maya Winning Over Neglected Target Audiences With “Your Money”

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Please, don’t show me another bank ad!”

We get it. At this point, it’s tough to tell bank ads apart. In the worst case, they’ll all tell you they believe in your future and that you’re not just a customer but family.

Maya likely had a feeling that younger clients, in particular, were growing sick of men in pinstripe suits with gray-mottled hair secretly inviting themselves to family dinners. It’s safe to assume they even invested in customer surveys or research to find out what that particular target audience cares about: An all-in-one banking app, instant credits and an easy interface that would let them send money or crypto with just a username. Because that’s what they advertised, and that’s what won them an effie

You probably won’t find many bank ads using a money rain transition from a teenage gamer to the most diverse group of young people just standing in a parking lot. Since we’re talking about a bank in the Philippines, the cultural background might play into it. Still, it’s a reminder that ads don’t have to go out of their way in terms of production to be different.

4. HSBC Sells You the Future on Every Social Media Channel and in the Metaverse

Speaking of banking, HSBC took that same promise of a flexible future Maya plays with and productized it. Just like Maya, they probably noticed that a one-size-fits-all slogan doesn’t cut it anymore and that a client’s financial future can develop in a million different ways. So they decided to help clients visualize what those futures might look like — in the metaverse. Or, to be more accurate, the Futureverse.

Many brands struggle to translate their business or advertising model to virtual reality and end up recreating a 3D model of their shop online. Some, like Chipotle, develop gaming experiences around their core offering. HSBC cleverly created a whole bunch of online worlds centered on the questions and pain points their clients experience.

That not only boosts customer engagement but also makes it easier to create content surrounding those experiences. HSBC still shares a lot of typical content for a modern bank, like videos about mobile payment solutions. However, by weaving in the occasional reference to their metaverse experience, they put the client at the center and recognize that even their financial experts can’t predict the future. As a result, the video ads that do discuss those analysts become more believable.

This serves as a reminder that the reputation or credibility you gain in one campaign might be able to support the success of the next one. So rather than trying to drive home the same messaging over and over again, you should consider a comprehensive messaging strategy with a story arc, addressing different steps of the customer journey in each asset.

5. Not All Marketing Campaigns Need a Product Launch, As Heinz Will Tell You

The days when Steve Jobs revolutionized product presentations with a keynote were not an eternity ago, but let’s be honest. Even though Silicon Valley might still be the hub of innovation, a lot of those keynotes can now seem exchangeable. 

If you truly want to see creative juices flowing, you’ll watch companies that have to re-introduce one product. Every. Single. Day. And what better example of a company that has famously sold one product for decades than Heinz?

While they may have introduced every condiment we could hope to dip, we don’t have to tell you about their core offering. If you think Heinz, you think ketchup. The challenge, then, not only lies in making that interesting over decades but in doing so for everyone – from the weekend BBQ fan to the vegan veggie connoisseur.

Over time, Heinz has learned to leverage its edgy branding to pick up on a range of trends, from the Garfield Movie and an interest in organic food to complementing ads on Facebook and YouTube applauding students smuggling Heinz into school.

Heinz is a fantastic example of delivering fine-tuned messaging to different target audiences across social media platforms. For instance, on Pinterest, they’re still determined, but they seem to push their messaging about organic ingredients a little more.

Additional Tips for a Successful Product Launch

Now, maybe you’re running your first product launch campaign, and after everything you’ve just read, you’re thinking, “But we’re not Heinz. How do I break this down?” 

No worries. After you’ve finished reading, you’ll be launching products faster than a rocket on New Year’s Eve. Let’s cover some best practices.

Tailor Campaigns to Your Target Audience

You’ve seen it in the subtle differences between Audi and Oraimo. Just because you’re using the same setting, topic or pain point, that doesn’t mean you need to follow the same script. 

Conduct some market research to identify your brand’s target audience. Find out what makes them special, maybe even compared to those of your competitors. Use this data to craft a campaign that resonates with them on a personal level. If your audience is mostly tech-savvy Gen Z, there’s no point in reminiscing about the good ol’ days.

Leverage Multiple Media Channels To Maximize Reach

Before you assume that we’ll say, “Be everywhere,” hear us out. While a successful product launch isn’t confined to a single platform, you need to be on the right platforms to boost engagement. 

So yes, you should use a mix of social media, email marketing, influencers, maybe even print media or guerilla marketing. However, your blend of marketing platforms might completely differ from your direct competitors. Experiment a little to find your crowd.

Focus on Creating a Strong Emotional Connection With Your Audience

While you should certainly prioritize your sales numbers, your first focus in marketing should always be on helping people and connecting with your audience in a meaningful way. Depending on your crowd, that could mean cracking a joke or getting nostalgic about the rotary phone. You do you, but don’t try to sell before you’ve seen that spark.

Ensure Consistency in Your Messaging and Branding

Imagine meeting a very chatty person from another office whose story about their dog almost made you forget about the boring elevator ride. Now, picture bumping into them again the next day and them being super formal and barely nodding before silently awaiting the doors to open. You’d probably hope for a button that would just cut through the uncomfortable silence.

We expect our interactions to be consistent, no matter if it’s with people or brands. Even though you can show different flavors across platforms like Heinz does, make sure your branding remains consistent.

By understanding your audience, using a multi-channel approach, building emotional connections and maintaining consistency, you can significantly enhance the impact and success of your product launch. So there you have it. Pour some rocket fuel on that product launch; we’ll see you after you’ve broken through the marketing sound barrier.