Strategy

How Thursday Use Creative Campaigns and Content to Engineer Awareness Loops

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Marketers can be cynical creatures. It’s rare to find a campaign that stops and makes you think, “huh, that’s cool,” let alone blows you away.

So when friends told me about the creative campaigns behind Thursday—a new dating app growing in popularity here in the UK—I had to take a peek.

They weren’t wrong. The messaging is creative, different, and plays to many of the objections that users of incumbent dating apps have when finding love on the internet.

However, upon inspection, it was clear this was just the tip of the iceberg. These campaigns aren’t just creative ad plays.

They’re fuel for creative social content marketing.

Using these campaigns, Thursday has engineered awareness on the channels their target audience of young professionals use every day.

Here, I aim to briefly break down each part of the ecosystem that allows Thursday to engineer awareness loops that drive backlinks, engagement, and, most importantly, user sign-ups in an incredibly competitive market.

Creative campaigns that join the conversation and speak to the pain points of an entire generation

Thursday has made a unique product in a competitive space by allowing users to swipe on one day a week only (every Thursday, unsurprisingly).

This speaks to the fatigue that single folk feel when navigating the woes of modern dating. You can tell that this was a core principle of their business, as it runs through everything they do.

After years of worshiping at the data-driven altar, it’s clear that the marketing world is going through a creative renaissance.

Here’s how Thursday is contributing to that in a way that generates attention:

1. Guerilla: Putting cardboard and balloons to work

The great thing about prioritizing efforts within a single city is hitting the streets and speaking to your users.

Thursday took a leaf from the book of guerilla marketing when Marketing Intern Anya Jackson donned a cardboard sign while carrying a few dozen bright pink balloons around central London:

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While the main message is “Single? Download Thursday”, they’ve not shied away from expressing how they really feel.

“F*ck flyering” and “P.S. This internship sucks” are sentiments many Londoners have felt during their careers. It transforms a bland call-to-action into a head-turner.

In another well-executed attempt to be different, Thursday’s Digital Creative Lead, Jess Wreford, was tasked with creating a tube ad, literally projecting it herself during her Monday morning commute:

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The Thursday team has become pros at taking old-school marketing efforts and transforming them into unique stunts. It’s quickly becoming part of why so many Londoners love what they do.

2. Traditional media: Communicating to a specific (but widely felt) pain-point

When they’re not hitting the streets, Thursday are investing in OOH advertising to get in front of their audience:

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Visually, there’s not much to write home about. But the messaging is where they excel. Here, they’re not afraid to state the facts. I’m unsure where they got this stat from, but telling their audience that it’s unlikely their product will work is pretty bold.

Nobody can point out your faults if you’ve already done it, and this level of vulnerability has the added benefit of building trust.

3. Events: Taking over a bar and only letting single people in

Arguably, dating has lost its personal touch. People want to meet other people in the real world.

Thursday knows this. Which is why they take over bars for dating events that take place—you guessed it—on Thursdays:

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It’s another common pain point that many single people face. Dating apps are tiresome. Thursday provides an opportunity for people to get together, strengthening their brand.

Why documenting these efforts (and their journey) on LinkedIn is the real awareness play

There are some cracking marketing campaigns featured above. But you might be wondering, “so what? There’s nothing new about events or traditional paid media.”

I agree, but it’s what they do with the “sawdust” from those campaigns that got my attention.

Take the projector tube ad. Jess Wreford, the brains behind the execution, shared the campaign on LinkedIn:

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Over 7,000 likes, 475 comments, and, likely, tens or hundreds of thousands of impressions.

Usually, sharing your work like this will only get the attention of other professionals. But it just so happens that this is Thursday’s ideal audience.

In this way, Thursday has engineered attention.

Sure, you see new and innovative guerilla marketing approaches all the time (balloons optional). By documenting the process, they transform each campaign into a story.

Not only that, the content itself is eye-catching in a feed full of surface-level thought leadership and company updates.

Engineering attention is all about understanding the needs of your audience and the context of a platform. For Thursday, it looks like this:

  1. Audience: Single professionals who are sick of dating apps
  2. Platform: A LinkedIn algorithm that rewards native content, while producing content that stands out from the crowd

Context matters. The argument of customers vs. algorithms is redundant. They both need attention.

Getting picked up by the press and the attention of celebrities

I’d be remiss to ignore the mainstream attention Thursday has generated, most notability a recent shoutout from Drew Barrymore:

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Press outlets like Esquire, Bustle, GQ, and Evening Standard have also covered them:

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(Backlink data from Ahrefs)

These natural press mentions will help future content marketing & SEO efforts if they wish to pursue them.

There’s an excellent opportunity for Thursday to provide real, refreshing dating advice to searchers looking for it in Google. We don’t need another generic dating blog, but we do need a voice that tells us how it is, and how to navigate modern dating without the B.S.

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