Creative marketing is a tricky beast. Once you think you’ve conquered a specific technique, the rules have changed. Think of the dog that chases its tail and no longer finds the game fun once he’s caught it.

To stay at the cutting edge, to be at the forefront of creativity, means making connections other people have never made, seeing things in new ways, and communicating those new observations and connections verbally and visually to a target audience.

Below are some examples of amazingly creative marketing. (None of these are campaigns we’ve done, by the way. We’re awesome, but we’re not narcissistic.)

One thing they all have in common is a willingness to embrace the unexpected.

Make Unexpected Connections

Nobody presents the unexpected connection better than Chick-Fil-A. Any campaign meant to sell chicken sandwiches by using dairy cows is nothing short of genius. It’s completely unexpected, a bit illogical, contains spelling and grammar errors that make English teachers cringe, but it works.

Along those same lines, check out the video Pruitt made for Christmas a couple of years ago. Before you watch the video, you need to know that Pruitt manufactures custom engineered equipment for the oil and gas industry. At first glance you’d never know they have an affinity for Disney music.

Elicit Emotion

There’s something to be said for the way certain brands make us feel. Creative marketing doesn’t always involve humor, though.

Dove rebranded themselves by talking more about body image than cleansing formulas. In addition to hiring models with normal body types, the company struck a collective nerve by illustrating real beauty… literally, asking a forensics sketch artist to do something for them.

Instigate Involuntary Interaction

Then there’s guerrilla marketing, in public places, where sometimes unwitting passersby become part of a marketing message. Marketing artists who transform bus stops, crosswalks, and city buses grab our attention and draw us into the brand whether we intended to be or not.

In the blog post linked below, you’ll see a long list of guerrilla marketing examples done well.

In one, the people walking through a large lobby become the fleas on a giant dog banner advertising Frontline Flea and Tick spray. In another, a bus passenger becomes part of a campaign against graffiti simply by sitting in a seat he may or may not know has arms in handcuffs painted on the back.

Images from:

Be Ubiquitous

Before marketing campaigns could go viral online, they went viral in other ways, usually on billboards, in magazines, and on television commercials.

Remember “Got milk?” The concept began simply enough: show celebrities with milk mustaches holding a glass of milk. Eventually the tagline became a mantra in its own right and people paid money to wear t-shirts with the slogan. Can somebody say, “Tipping point”? That was the early 90s. More recently, the Got Milk people teamed up with Buzzfeed for this gem:

What about the Capital One catch phrase, “What’s in your wallet?” It’s morphed from being asked by pillaging pirates to coming from the mouths of celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Jennifer Garner. The bank pays for ad time and sponsors numerous sporting events. Using a variety of storylines in the commercials, the tag line remains the same. It’s been around so long and in so many places, everybody already knows it.

See also: Geico.

Think So Far Outside The Box…

Like if a jack-in-the-box escaped and terrorized people on Halloween kind of outside the box. This type of marketing is sure to catch people’s attention and stick in their memories.

LG wanted to demonstrate how lifelike the display on their new monitors could be. They put high quality monitors and pranksters together in one elevator to come up with this ingenious and memorable message.

Don’t follow the latest trend; do something different.

As long as marketers like these continue to express their creativity and represent their brands in innovative ways, we will all be inspired by the dog chasing its tail.