Aviation American Gin campaign – evaluated

Following on from last month’s analysis of Paddy Power, we take a look at another campaign highlighted as exceptional in PR Example’s monthly roundup.

My favourite example in their list for August is Deutsche Bahn’s campaign, which aimed to tempt holiday makers to stay in Germany (see video at base for what was done / how – it’s truly amazing, do scroll down / click here) but since the PR Evaluation is already in the video, we take a look at the next one down on its list, Ryan Reynolds’ videos for Aviation American Gin.

The marketing campaign

This month saw Ryan Reynolds ‘accidentally’ mis-mail the company’s followers an email with a video of bad slogans, saying the marketing department’s tagline shoot was a disaster.

It fits into a bigger (albeit sporadic) campaign and is very (turn-pink-stifling-laughter) funny.

But did it work?

The video has so far received 1.5 million views on Reynolds’ YouTube channel alone (and it’s on multiple channels). Added to this is Google Trends data, which for August shows a large spike (2.7 times the August daily median, +4.46 standard deviations) on the day after the video was launched.

So far so good, most people would be very pleased with that. Certainly when I was promoting viral content for GCN (eg Road Bike Party / Brumotti / Martin Ashton’s return), this was considered a really good start.

On top of this is the fact that everyone mailed (one would hope) was a follower of the Aviation Gin brand (so receptive), and could click through to the link in Reynolds’ email signature (albeit not in the main body), hopefully to buy. So not all traffic spikes would be shown in the search data.

And this video did poorly

But this is not the first time Reynold’s has done such a video. And others in the campaign are spectacular in their results.

For example, February’s video with Hugh Jackman created a 325% spike vs the weekly (Sunday to Saturday) median searches, (2.06 standard deviations).

Other Aviation Gin viral ads have elicited even bigger responses – see special, limited edition bottles (correlates with 658% spike vs median, 4.46 SD, on weekly traffic). As has a funny fake review (correlates with a 191% spike vs median, 1.10 SD).

But even this pales into comparison versus a classic bit of PR – an appearance on the Jimmy Fallow show, which correlated with a 733% spike vs median (5.00 SD). And his story about his out of office led to so many emails its mail server crashed.

In comparison to those, this one video in the campaign, well, fell flat.

Why did this one fall flat?

Sometimes things aren’t right, but personally, this one doesn’t feel different to the others. There doesn’t seem to be anything especially different about it. And, as per above, I had to stifle laughter from people sitting around me.

But what does seem different is the coverage associated with this vs other videos.

Meltwater found just a handful of articles (nine in total) about this video in the campaign and most of these were from PR Examples / The Drum / similar marketing publications.

Compare this with the Hugh Jackman campaign, which received c. 600, including Forbes, USA Today, Fox, Esquire… plus international media such as the Mail and News.com.au.

In short, viral sensations are rarely viral sensations. And word of mouth is rarely enough to take something viral. They take time and effort (usually from a PR agency) to get the press to talk about them and my guess was that this just wasn’t prioritised for this one advert.

Either that or people are getting used to Reynolds’ ads (if so – move to exclusives and pre-briefs) – but my gut instinct goes with promotion just not being there in this case.


The campaign has been an exceptional success, even if this one video fell flat.

Why failures are great news

Aviation’s campaign has worked amazingly well to date. Be it through a true viral, or through it being promoted well, they have pretty much worked every time. And the PR / video creators need to be commended.

And, every campaign should run like an experiment. Tweak something here / there to see if it works better (or as well, but for less money). And adjust every campaign as you go along.

Assuming Aviation wanted to check if the campaign was strong enough to work without a big PR push, they have their answer. And given the daily spike this was by no means a flop, many organisations would kill for such a daily spike from a single YouTube video.

And the campaign clearly has worked repeatedly. My guess is it will on the next one too.

And while few brands will have the ability to combine the name recognition of Reynolds with the wit and timing that he brings it’s worth noting one thing: It is possible to see similar success. Well created content that is pushed and plays to your strengths can work very well indeed – see Dollar Shave Club for another (this-time non-celebrity) masterclass in viral videos.


The video highlighting the Deutsche Bahn campaign – which for my money deserves campaign of the year.

Header image copyright YouTube / Ryan Reynolds / Aviation Gin