These are pinteresting times

Earlier this year it was quite difficult to read any of the 2012 marketing trend predictions without coming across Pinterest. There was a lot of excitement around this new kid on the social media block with its two key fundamentals of social media; sharing and visual content. Pinterest has enjoyed skyrocketing growth and according to Shareaholic’s web traffic statistics, it now refers more traffic than Google, Yahoo and Twitter. However, it still has its share of skeptics among the marketing industry and many brands see Pinterest’s lack of an advertising platform and metrics as a barrier. Earlier this week Rachel Weiss, L’Oreal Social Media Chief, sparked some headlines by saying she was bored with Pinterest and was waiting to see what it could offer brands.

Apparently an ad platform is coming, but some brands are not waiting for that to create commercial opportunities. There is a lot of experimentation going on and we are seeing great examples of brands that have used Pinterest in creative and innovative ways.

Last week Gucci unveiled ‘pinnable’ banner ads for their Fall / Winter 2012 digital campaign, featuring a small ‘pin it’ button on the corner. The ads have been developed in collaboration with Triple Lift, whose analytics platform will track the ad when shared across Pinterest. The interesting point here is not the fact that they are playing off Pinterest’s visual nature, perfectly suited for fashion, but that the idea is rooted in advertising as desirable content which people want to share.

Gucci Pinnable Banner

Zappos is another good example of innovation with Pinterest, linking it to its online store. The retailer has created a new page, PinPointing, that recommends products based on what people post on Pinterest, featuring Zappos products but also other brands. Consumers can see suggestions linked to their own pins and also to other Pinterest users. The idea is not new,  see any fashion magazine site telling you to ‘shop the look’, but they have adapted it to leverage Pinterest’s users love of pinning aspirational looks.

Unicef campaign Pinterest


But Pinterest is not exclusively for fashion (or food or home deco brands).  A clever new campaign from UNICEF takes on the concept of Pinterest as a wishlist to raise awareness for child poverty. The fictional profile of Ami Musa shows the desires of a teenager from Sierra Leone on a board called ‘Really want this’. Instead of pinning decadent chocolate cakes or Louboutin shoes, she has pinned rice grains and plastic sandals, making us put all our ‘wants’ into perspective.

From a completely different angle, Honda also played with the idea of Pinterest’s aspirational nature with their #Pintermission campaign. The auto manufacturer gave $500 to several very active Pinterest users to take a break from online and get out to live the life they were pinning about. For those wondering how many cars this helps to sell, I would guess that not many (if any), but from a brand and PR perspective – which were the objectives of the campaign, it was a success, getting great media coverage and portraying the brand as creative and up with the latest trends.

Honda Pintermission boards

Pinterest’s popularity has inspired others to jump on the bandwagon. Pinspire has made no effort in trying to differentiate itself and we’ve even got Dudepin (like Pinterest but for, erm, dudes) but others like The Fancy are proving to be a strong alternative so far. Like Pinterest, The Fancy focuses on collecting images of stuff , but unlike Pinterest, which relies on marketing links, you are able to buy the products you ‘fancy’ on the site.

Facebook seems to have smelled the money as well, by adding a feature called ‘Collections’. It will make it easier for brands to push product pictures to Facebook users, who can then collect the images in a Pinterest-style folder. Facebook says it is just testing the new tool with several retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and Neiman Marcus, but so far the idea seems very ‘pinteresting’. Let’s see if we go from the ‘like’ to the ‘want’ button.

Ines Nadal is a research manager at Ipsos ASI, the advertising research specialists. Follow her on Twitter @inesnadal

  • Mareka Carter

    Have you seen Children With Children, the charity AMREF’s Pinterest campaign where a 13 year old mother in Tanzania is using a cameraphone to share her images on Pinterest?
    I don’t know that the UNICEF Pinterest profile is as live and real as that.

    • Ines Nadal

      Thanks for the link Mareka. I found this campaign emotionally engaging, especially like the video, but they might need to shout louder than UNICEF to reach more people

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