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How Neeman's Shoes and VML turned smartphone tapping into a viral marketing sensation

VML of India “Are those Neeman's shoes?' The campaign repeatedly asks influencers catchy questions that trigger the smartphone's algorithms and increase brand awareness.

The guerrilla strategy resulted in a 19% increase in Google searches for Neeman's and significantly higher organic website traffic.

The campaign took advantage of the uncanny phenomenon of smartphones listening in on conversations to create hyper-targeted ads. Despite initial challenges, the campaign's success has increased brand awareness and provided valuable insights for future marketing strategies.

LBB spoke to VML India’s Chief Creative Officers Mukund Olety and Rohan Kumar, and Neeman’s Shoes co-founders Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet Singh to find out more.

LBB> Can you explain the development process of the “Are Those Neeman's Shoes” campaign from conception to implementation, especially given its unconventional and disruptive nature?

Mukund and Rohan> The moment we realized our phones had been listening to all of us, everyone jumped in. You talk about something and within hours and sometimes minutes an ad for that exact topic pops up on your phone. It's scary, but when everyone in the room started sharing common stories, we thought how crazy it would be to do a campaign around it – luckily, judging by the response, it's not the craziest thing.

LBB> The campaign uses the knowledge that smartphones listen in on conversations to target consumers with advertising. How did you deal with the ethical considerations surrounding data protection and data usage when implementing this campaign?

Mukund and Rohan> That was it – we just told two influencers to go to busy places and promote the brand. That's the oldest sales pitch. Judging by the response we got, people probably just thought the guys were crazy and carried on as usual.

LBB> What inspired you to decide to use guerrilla marketing tactics for this campaign and how did you ensure that it really reached and resonated with the target audience?

Mukund and Rohan> These days, the words AI and hyper-targeting crop up in every brainstorming session. They cropped up here too. But the idea was so simple that at some point we realized we might be thinking too much about it and should do it the old-fashioned way and use the tried and tested “Del Boy” method. As he says, “Whoever dares wins.”

LBB> Can you give us some insights into the role of influencers in the campaign and how they contributed to its success in terms of increasing brand awareness and engagement?

Mukund and Rohan> Inspired by the popularity of joke videos on Instagram, we approached influencers with the same engaging sentiment. We envisioned playful interactions with unsuspecting passersby, where we would utter a funny-sounding phrase to elicit a reaction. However, our original idea of ​​simply shouting the brand name Neeman's didn't have the comedic impact we wanted. We looked for a phrase that was versatile enough to be said in countless ways. We wanted to create a humorous phrase that would stick and become a spontaneous greeting that people exchange over time. After numerous attempts, “Are those Neeman's shoes?” emerged as our winning concept. And thanks to our influencers' amazing performance, it stuck.

LBB> What challenges did you face when implementing the campaign and how did you overcome them?

Mukund and Rohan> The hardest part was just getting everyone on board. But for an idea like this to see the light of day and not die in a presentation, you need canjones – as they say in Spain. And luckily, everyone from our client to our brilliant partners, The Other Half, led by the superbly talented Arjuna Gaur, said, “We'll figure it out, let's just do it.” And that's why we love them. You need partners who believe in the idea and have your back from start to finish. When you have people like that on your side, there are far too few complications.

Taran and Amar> The campaign resulted in a significant increase in searches for the brand and website traffic. How do you plan to maintain this momentum and continue to capitalize on the campaign's success?

We see great potential in leveraging the creative community and using their influence to spread the campaign's core message, allowing us to reach audiences we haven't been able to reach before. In addition, we see the opportunity to increase footfall in our offline stores in key cities through this campaign approach.

LBB> The founders of Neeman mentioned their commitment to innovation and exploring new mediums of interaction. How does this campaign fit into Neeman's wider brand strategy and ethos?

Taran and Amar> We compete in a category where sales are based on two main factors: comfort and style. While we know that consumers demand fashionable designs in their shoes, the comfort factor is non-negotiable. We are a young brand, just five and a half years old, and in this short span of time, we have served over 2 million customers in over 1400 cities and towns and 90% of them have rated our comfort 4.5*/5. In our endeavour to reach out to an audience that has not yet discovered us, the campaign is a perfect fit and plants the idea of ​​Neeman's in the minds of the target audience without spending excessive amounts of money.

LBB> What feedback or reactions did you receive from the audience about the campaign and how do you plan to incorporate the lessons learned into future marketing initiatives?

Taran and Amar> Cool. Brilliant. Creative. What an idiot.

These are just a few of the many honest responses we received. Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Moreover, it is motivating for the team working behind the scenes that all those months of planning have been put into action and accepted. The most important lesson we have taken from this campaign is: “Never pull an idea halfway through. Let it run its course. Real feedback or real potential only shows up when you implement the idea.”