Having devoured my body weight in chocolate this Easter Sunday, and as I sit in my chocolate coma watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I realised that Willy Wonka’s ‘Golden Ticket’ search was a stroke of marketing genius.

Willy Wonka managed to generate mass hysteria and brand awareness like never before. Chocolate flew off the shelves. Earned media worth millions flooded the airwaves. Massive amounts of media coverage achieved. And the search for the five golden tickets dominated social conversation. And all this with no social media in the mix –   I can only imagine how much more powerful the golden ticket campaign could have been!

Yet this campaign wasn’t real. It’s a movie and this kind of marketing lottery just doesn’t exist in the real world. Sure, some big brands try: on-pack codes, soft toy promos, fast food “Monopoly” game piece contests, and even Nestle chocolate did a variation on the golden ticket campaign using GPS locators. But even with their global brand awareness and promotion budgets, these brands couldn’t replicate Wonka’s fictional golden ticket success.

I think the closest we get these days to mass hysteria around tickets sales for One Direction or Justin Bieber ha ha– but then again this has a limited audience of appeal.

With Willy Wonka, all ages, all countries and all demographics were engaged and invested in the campaign. Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign had global appeal. It is a brave move to replace the world’s most iconic brand with hundreds of different names. It drove huge buzz and engagement. No other brand has gone to this scale of personalisation. It was a great success.

No matter how big the brand, a campaign must be relevant to work. If I emphatically avoid fast food restaurants, no amount of contest or incentives will get me to spend my money there. These big contests/campaigns are useful in energizing your base, and enticing high-potential customers to try your brand. But they won’t engage people who aren’t already paying attention, or ready to be sold to.

So, even if you don’t have your own Golden Ticket campaign, you should identify your authentic role in the community, grow your audience and drive sales with proven tactics and strong communications. Be creative and unlock you imagination…