Marketing is hard. Working to get consumers to notice your brand, move down your funnel, and buy is hard. 

But for some reason none of that is as hard as vying to get approval from legal.  

Today’s email breaks down a Surreal campaign from one of the most innovative Marketing departments this side of the Mississippi (they aren’t on this side of the Mississippi, but I’ve just always wanted to say that in an email).  

I don’t know how legal let this one slide…
Marketing Bestie, without further adieu, meet Surreal Cereal. (Say that 10x fast.) A UK-based high-protein low-carb cereal for adults, Surreal’s Marketing will have you second guessing if your own creative is bold enough. 

Trying to disrupt an industry dominated by legacy-brand and cash cow Kellogg, Surreal is working with pennies compared to Kellog’s near billion dollar ad spend. 

Yet we’re here today to talk about Surreal, not Kellogg, so they must be doing something right with their pennies.
In April of 2023 Surreal launched an out of home campaign that caught everyone’s attention.  

A startup garnering a promotion from Dwayne Johnson, Serena Williams, and Ronaldo is unheard of, just take a look at the ad above and below.
Those are the big names you’d expect Kellogg to shill out millions of dollars for, not some cereal startup. But there’s an asterisk. 

These aren’t endorsements from your fav athletes or movie stars, they’re endorsements from your town’s local bus driver, who just happens to be named Dwayne Johnson. BOLD.

I don’t know how Surreal got their legal team to sign off on that, LOL.
Surreal was short on money, but not on creativity. Now I’m not suggesting your brand enter the murky waters of NIL (name, image, and likeness) law, but adopt the fundamentals: 

Just because you don’t have the cash doesn’t mean you can’t make a splash, think outside the box. 

Now it’s one thing to grab people’s attention, YouTubers have been doing it for years with their clickbait, but it takes a real Marketer to maintain people’s attention.
And after their buzz-building-bonanza of a campaign, Surreal really flexed their Marketing muscles and built off of the initial attention from their risky ads. 

Surreal had to remove all ads that pushed the boundaries of name, image, and likeness and was forced to pivot. 

rTheir next move was genius. Where other brands might issue an apology and move on, Surreal continued to poke fun at the situation, taking sarcasm to a whole new level.
Because the initial campaign blew up, consumers were aware of the situation and eager to see what they did next.

Surreal was timely and relevant in their approach, saying “A human being has eaten our cereal” in one of their OOH ads.  

Most brands in 2023 see humor in 2 ways, with the first being that it is not useful in Marketing and the second being that humor means chaos, so to make people laugh they act chaotic in their Marketing. 

But both of those viewpoints are wrong. Humor can be a massive asset to increasing brand retention (if done right).

And the best way to do that is through timely and relevant humor.  Don’t try to get a laugh just to get a laugh.

Use the context of your brand, the current cultural climate, and the experiences of your consumers to guide your humor.
Out of home advertising is looked at as an ancient Marketing strategy in 2023, but Surreal’s innovation is proving it’s a channel worth investing in. 

We’ve seen other brands attack OOH in an uncut and raw way like Surreal, however none of those brands have leveraged their OOH ads on social media the way Surreal has.
Surreal has been resharing their OOH ads to their 41,000 LinkedIn followers and generating tons of eyes to their profile. 

Most of us Marketers and Brands aren’t rolling around with hundreds of thousands of followers on social, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t organically reach the masses. 
Surreal is an excellent role model of the ability to still have a large reach on social media without the massive following. 

All it takes is a little extra investment in creative.  

A Surreal campaign, Surreal story, and Surreal lesson for us Marketers. Thinking outside of the (cereal) box is what Surreal does best.
Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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