Brands Tested. Brands Approved.

Consumers won’t believe that your product is really good until they see the results of crash tests and, which is much more convincing, participate in them. Most frequently, these experiments are arranged to highlight the possibilities of autos, software or a range of appliances, but such things as lingerie, performance drinks, furniture and men’s courage can get into spotlight as well.

The most tested products in advertising are cars, and global manufacturers always come up with some new bizarre, but fun ways to prove that their vehicles are the most reliable (fast, comfortable, eco-friendly, etc.) and worth buying. Leaving out all of these free drives and traditional tests, we will bring focus only to some of the catchiest ones of the recent year. Sometimes, brands choose very intriguing approaches, just like Toyota did recently, when released a stunning commercial, showcasing the process of creating a crash test dummy created entirely of glass and putting it inside the car. They didn’t show what the dummy was look like after the test, but would they even bother making such a fragile one if they were not sure it will be just fine after the ride?

The virtual dimension has been deeply integrated in our lives—in November 2010, Mitsubishi proved it once again. The manufacturer decided to provide its US fans with the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, without even getting out of their homes. As the press release informed, “using a combination of remote control software and hardware and a unique system interface,” participants could “take an actual 2011 Outlander Sport for a virtual spin on a closed course from their personal computers.” The Mitsubishi Live Drive was the World’s First Online Test Drive of an actual vehicle utilizing interactive remote control, as the company stated.

As part of its Naughty campaign (which was also mentioned in the Brands and the City, Part #1 review), Volvo released a series of videos all celebrating to the Volvo S60’s numerous possibilities. There were four levels, and at each of them the car was just perfect—below is ‘The Slalom Test’ episode, where the car is demonstrating its ability to ride smoothly while being fast (watch more video’s on the brand’s YouTube channel).

Subaru invited several everyday people to take part in test drives with rally driver Dave Mirra. The thing was that they didn’t know that their emotions during the speedy drive were filmed—the campaign dubbed Get More G’s suggested that passengers would say a bunch of exclamations starting with ‘g’—like ‘Oh geez’—but there were a lot of other ‘starting letters’ as well.

Another test-themed campaign launched by the brand is the ‘Dogs tested. Dogs Approved’ campaign, which included 7 spots featuring canines. The pets do just what their owners usually do every day— try to park the car, order take-away food, get nervous when the parking lot is taken, buy products, turn on music in the car to name a few. The key message is that Subaru autos are really good and even dogs know it (and can drive them).

Combining augmented reality and driving, Volkswagen released a print that allowed to test a car using an iPhone app, which works as a car while an ad is used instead of the road. The car on the screen is moving just like it would be riding in reality, allowing the user to feel just like he’s actually behind the wheel.

But auto brands don’t limit their experiments to drive tests only. In early 2011, Volvo teamed up with Siemens and a range of other companies to launch the CO2-lean ‘One Tonne Life’ experiment, which sees the Lindells family of four residing in energy-efficient house in Sweden and driving a Volvo C30 Electric car for a year—the goal is to live within the limits of one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions per person for one year.

Philips also chose severe conditions for testing its products. Last year, the brand kicked off a long campaign dubbed ‘Wake up the Town,’ during which the brand tested its innovative Wake-Up Light alarm-clock in Longyearbyen, the town where the night lasts longer than anywhere else on the planet. The project was started on October 26 and closed up in March—during this time, Internet users could visit the page to communicate with the residents and see how they were doing with the gadget. Now, the project is finished and the results (of course, highly positive) can be viewed at the website.

Coca-Cola’s Powerade arranged a test to prove that its sports drink really can help the athletes avoid extensive swear loss during the trainings. The brand invited heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and three boxers to take part in a 45-minute session of mixed fitness exercises to find out how much liquid they lose by the end of the hard training (they were weighed before and after). Ms Ennis drank Powerade Zero before and during the work-out while guys chose other drinks, and as a result she was less dehydrated, which is definitely very good.

While the three previous brands tested their goods through real-life experiments, Olympus and Samsung make a step further and put their products to harsh tests, which do not actually occur in everyday life. Last summer, the first of them released a series of spots, demonstrating how tough cameras from the new range are—they are washed, drowned, dropped and pressed, but nothing can damage them.

Samsung did nearly the same with its SD memory card in a hilarious spot, in which a ‘magnet-proof, shockproof and waterproof’ card is attached to a remote control car and starts a 2-minue long journey, during which it ‘meets’ hitting hammers, a fish tank, firing paint-balls, a glass wall to name but a few, and is beaten, hit, dunked and even licked all over by a dog throughout the trip. The brand also sent 100 durable cards in one hundred paper planes to the stratosphere to see if they still could have the information on them when they landed.

Still, Samsung can be rather ‘harsh’ when testing its products. Last summer, the brand released a series of three spots, ‘Rocket,’ ‘Tunnel’ and ‘Truck,’ in which two people were challenged to print a paper using the Samsung CLX-3185N model and a traditional printer—the slowest guy… was heavily injured.

To demonstrate how speedy Chrome is, last May Google released a spot in which the browser was compared with quick things from real life. The team behind the project proved that in Chrome web-pages load literally in a blink of an eye: it was compared to a splash of pink paint, lightning sent by a giant Tesla coil, and a speeding potato loaded into a cannon.

The theme of weird experiments was also employed by Toshiba, which is all about showcasing the brand’s laptop features by comparing them to possibilities of a human. In the Toshiba Laptop Expert Lab, the Professor and his assistant named Gary—the laboratory is full of mechanisms, which are used for conducting the bizarre, but very funny experiments in order to demonstrate the characteristics of Toshiba’s computer device. For instance, they prove that the computer can multitask unlike students and that it can store memory on a highly durable hard-drive that saves memories for ever while the human brain can’t. (Other challenges, where brand’s products are compared to the goods by competitors or everyday things can be found in our Favourite vs. Favourite: Clashes Arranged by Brands’ review).

Not only products can be tested. AXE, one of the most ironical brands, which never loses an opportunity to launch another tongue-in-cheek promotion. In its ‘World’s Manliest Rituals’ campaign, the brand challenges three guys to take up a few bizarre tasks, which are dating back to the Middle Ages or even earlier, which were to show if these guys were ‘men enough’ to attract local ladies.

IKEA Poland tested its chairs by turning them into musical instruments. The retailer commissioned a street performer Paul, which is a drumming on chairs in front of the Warsaw railway, to test its goods for a week. Facebookers could nominate a chair, which would undergo the test, and then the street musician played his tunes on this selected piece for one day (the results of the experiment were then posted back to the Facebook page).

The cherry on the top in this overview is a consumer test developed recently for Wonderbra Perfect Strapless—the female consumers can buy the lingerie and test it just in-store, in special fitting rooms with a trampoline, to make sure that these bras always remain where they should be so that women wearing them never have any nipplegate incidents.

So, brands are saying once again «Trust, but verify.» Or let them do it instead.