Bottling lightning: How to build a winning campaign

The basic elements of winning at any sport are preparation, execution and a little bit of luck.

Turns out, those are largely the same components that go into a marketing, PR and social media campaign that capitalizes on sentiment around these successes. It’s how a brand can bottle lightning.

Bottling lightning: 1) Capturing something powerful and elusive and then being able to hold it and show it to the world. 2) Performing a rare feat. 3) A moment of creative brilliance. 

At yesterday’s PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin luncheon, Jockey and Hanson Dodge explained how a huge amount of hard work and planning, a plan to follow through and a bit of serendipity raised the profile of their brands when opportunities presented themselves.

Jockey and Tim Tebow

Jockey's website campaign

Mo Moorman, public relations director for Jockey International, shared the wild ride that was Tim Tebow-mania, who the company sponsored starting when he was a relative unknown. But that changed suddenly and dramatically.

During the Broncos quarterback’s rise to stardom and playoff run, Jockey’s numbers included:

  • 700 media placements with 500 million impressions
  • A Tebow ad that went viral and was covered by national media
  • 14,000 new Facebook likes
  • More than 100,000 views on YouTube
  • A Twitter campaign that benefited from a topic that saw the most tweets-per-second in Twitter history.

Those a just a few statistics that translated to more than buzz. It resulted in 21,000 new customers opting in for marketing, the second most single-day visits to the site ever, and increase in key brand metrics, such as “Jockey is for someone like me.”

Wilson Sporting Goods

While phenomenons like Tebow don’t happen every day, some major events like the Super Bowl occur on a more predictable schedule. But they still require planning and coordination to take advantage of the buzz for the purpose of a specific brand.

Dave Racine, director of social media and PR at Hanson Dodge Creative, explained how Wilson told its story with the “More Win” campaign and behind-the-scenes mini documentaries of a small town football-making factory. This requires a more pro-active initiative than focusing on responding to a spontaneous event like Tebow-mania.

When no community exists, Racine explained, build one. And build one they did, through user-generated videos as well as media placements through the Wall Street Journal, CBS and others.

At the same time, they jumped at the chance to hitch their star to Derrick Wilson during his quest for NBA MVP. In the same way as their longer-term campaigns, media placements and community-based crowdsourcing helped raise the profile of the Wilson brand basketball.

Hanson Dodge Olympic Sponsorship

In another example at Hanson Dodge, Social Media Strategist Mike Wisniewski saw a quirky opportunity to sponsor a potential Olympic athlete with a temporary tattoo of their company on his arm. London Olympic Games hopefully Nick Symmonds was offering up the opportunity via an eBay auction.

There were many questions and unknowns — not to mention a ticking auction clock — but the agency decided to move quickly and decisively on the opportunity. As Hanson Dodge Partner and Director of Marketing Al Krueger shared, they won the auction, flew to Oregon to organized a press conference, and publicized the move via their website and social media.

To tell their larger story, Hanson Dodge positioned Symmonds on a new active lifestyle advisory board to complement their goals with all brands, beyond running. Results included their top three biggest website traffic days “by a long shot,” as well as major placements including Sports Illustrated and Runner’s World.


One key takeaway from all three speakers is that “hard work goes hand-in-hand with opportunity.” You have to put in the hours and move quickly when an unexpected or high-caliber chance arises to move the needle. You don’t know when something similar will come along again.

How can you bottle lightning?

View the slides for the Jockey, Wilson and Symmonds presentations on Scribd.  

— By Tim Cigelske