Orange Balloon Infestation

On our last evening in Madrid, we did what typical Madrilenians do, which is walk around the city. As we were strolling past the Palacio Real, curiosity took the best of me when I saw a group of people holding black netting filled with orange balloons. They released a stream of balloons every so often, which was synchronized with other groups who were dotted in different parts of Madrid. I thought it was an advertising campaign, which was broadcast live. It definitely made people stop and watch for a good amount of time.

After having done some research, it turns out that it was a commercial for a Portugese Energy company called GALP Energia. Orange balloons aside, what really interested me about this company is their advertising. Galp supports the Portugese football team and I liked the way their campaigns required audience participation.

For example, for the recent Soccer World Cup, the vuvuzela (tribal instrument used in South Africa to show support for a team) was the chosen instrument. So to express their support GALP went beyond traditional media and got fans to show their support through training people how to use the vuvuzela in their gas stations and through social media, which stimulated support from the fans.

Other campaigns were: In 2004 they supported the anthem ‘Menos ais’ of Euro2004 that entered the top ranking in a Portugese music TV programme, 2006 they created a Virtual Human Chain involving 750,000 fans and in 2008 they encouraged fans to express their emotions by signing and writing on the national team’s bus.

This post is not about the company but about the initiatives they have invested in that goes beyond traditional media to get exposure for their brand.

Which brings me back to the balloons – imagine my disappointment when I found out that it was only for a commercial.  It would be great if it was a campaign that required people to be involved to increase awareness about reneweable resources to sustain the environment. It would be even better if the balloons were made of innovative bio-degradable material that doesn’t harm the environment…

Just in case you are interested, here’s the ad:

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