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MR D.I.Y's giant inflatable: What's needed for a good 'shock-vertising' gimmick?

MR D.I.Y's giant inflatable: What's needed for a good 'shock-vertising' gimmick?

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Malaysian home improvement retailer MR D.I.Y has unveiled a giant inflatable iron over the city skyline, as part of its new initiative dubbed “Big & Small, MR D.I.Y has it all”. The installation, which was also recognised by the Malaysia book of records as the "largest inflatable iron in Malaysia", has galvanised crowds and brought them to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa park to view it. The giant inflatable iron, MR D.I.Y group’s head of marketing Alex Goh said, is a fun and engaging way of putting forth the ethos of MR D.I.Y. He added that it is also a “perfect way to give Malaysians something entertaining to enjoy as they celebrate holidays around Merdeka and Malaysia Day.”

Inflatables have gained their own set of fans over the years. Just a few months ago, Hong Kong saw ZA Bank promote its "DOUBLE DUCKS" exhibition and the widespread use of NFTs by releasing two giant inflatable rubber ducks into the city’s Victoria Harbour.  The inflatable duck and MR D.I.Y’s inflatable iron alike, fall under the umbrella of “shockvertising”, say industry players A+M spoke to. Inspiring chatter because of the rarity of its occurrence, inflatables undoubtedly invoke curiosity and pull crowds.

However, is the “shock” value of it the sole reason why inflatables have been a reliable marketing tactic? Casey Loh, creative chief at The Clan said that the medium of inflatables, while an enticing marketing tactic, is not the only reason behind its success. Such executions need to be rooted in meaning and reasoning which, he explains, is more important than the novelty of having an inflatable to begin with. “In the case of MR D.I.Y, which showcases how it has everything in the store, from smallest to biggest, the inflatable makes sense,” he added.

Loh added the days of simply planting a big installation and hoping that it gets picked up by the media are “long gone.” A 360-degree approach to fuelling a big idea through influencers, partnerships, and seeded content is needed to drive this idea. “Of course, the gimmick itself needs to be able to catch the attention of the people and appear on their timeline,” he said, which MR D.I.Y seems to be doing well with its TikTok page.

Additionally, the brand is also pushing for user generated content by promising top content creators experiences such as yacht trips and helicopter rides. “Driving UGC is not impossible – it just needs a big idea to fuel it. It looks like MR D.I.Y took the time to build up to this physical reveal and to sustain it with a contest,” he added. 

Loh added that at the end of the day, if the stunt made the consumers' day and wowed them, then the stunt has done its job in successfully engaging with the audience.

The “shock” value

Shock marketing, or shockvertising, which is the act of deliberately shocking or startling viewers with a marketing campaign, is not uncommon in this day and age especially considering that there is so much content competing for one's attention. A great way to cut through the ad clutter, shockvertising helps marketers stand out.

"Researchers claim the average person sees hundreds to thousands of ads in a day from what is now an endless supply chain — it’s easy for brands to get lost in that mix," said Don Anderson, the CEO of Kaddadle in a previous interview with A+M. So, it’s no surprise that some marketers may get frustrated, and show signs of desperation in their communications. As such, the line between success and failure is a thin one.

In this case, the inflatable, Loh said, is a positive take on shockvertising. He calls it a “delight”. “I see it as a way that the iron moves also in a smooth manner, so not just size wise but also the quality of the product can be played up. MR D.I.Y has achieved its purpose of evoking that delight by giving people who gather around the lake something to wonder at,” he explained.

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PepsiCo, Hasbro and Mr. DIY name The Shout Group as advertising partner

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