Adobe’s “Real or Fake” Campaign — Learn SM By Example

Social Media Campaign Stat Box

: Adobe Real or Fake Campaign

: Products and services

: Facebook

: College Students

: Emotional

: February, 2008

: 1 month

Adobe, the proud maker of popular software titles such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat and Flash, worked with interactive advertising agency Traction to create a social media engagement initiative.

The Idea & Objective:

Adobe wanted to increase awareness of its discounts for college students. It thought hard and long about the best strategy to do so, taking into consideration the characteristics of its target audience while tailoring an effective, customized method to reach them.

The challenge was clear: Increase awareness among college students for the launch of Adobe Student Editions in North America; we wanted students to know that they can purchase Adobe products at a steep discount for students (up to 80% off the full retail price).

Adobe Student Facebook Page

Adobe Student Facebook Page

Accordingly, Adobe created a game on Facebook challenging users to spot doctored photos. The core of the campaign was asking fans of the Adobe Students page whether they thought a series of images were “Real or Fake?”

The game lasted for 4 weeks, with 5 photos being posted each week. If a photo had been edited with Photoshop, a tutorial showed how that was done. And, at the end of the game, users were presented with information about Adobe Student Editions and there were 3 primary call-to-actions: 1) “Buy Now”, 2) “Play Again” and 3) “Share” the game with others.


Buzz Generated

During the first week, 40 percent of players returned to play again that same week, 22 percent checked out the tutorials, 6 percent clicked the “Share” button at the end of the game, and 6 percent clicked “Buy Now” at the end of the game.

The Adobe Students Facebook page also received 3,000 new fans and more than 53,000 page views that week, compared with an average of 5,057 views per week prior to the campaign.

Numbers also remained high in the second week, with 21 percent of players accessing the game tutorials, 4 percent sharing the game with friends, and another 6 percent clicking “Buy Now.” Week two also brought in an additional 2,500 new fans to the Adobe Students page and almost 50,000 additional page views.

Real or Fake? How to do it!

Real or Fake? How to do it!

Lessons Learned

I have always been a loyal fan to Adobe, at heart at least! However, after this campaign, I assure you, this loyalty grew into admiration!

So what have they done right? Here is what we think:

  • Engage your audience: Adding content to a blog, website or even a Fanpage is not enough. People need engagement in order to feel that they belong and that they are appreciated!
  • Capture your audience’s attention: It is easy for your audience and fans to get sucked into the internet realm and lose sight of you! You need to come up with ways to capture user attention and allow them to interact with you in a way that demonstrates the value of your product/service.
  • Social ads can be useful: Although they might be regarded as intrusive by some, social ads can help guide your customers and potential clients to your offers.
  • “Fun” almost always works! Never underestimate the power of the fun factor, especially when dealing with a youthful target audience.

Finally, I am intrigued to hear your answers to the following questions I have: Have you ever heard of this campaign before? Why do you think it was successful? Could it have been executed better?

Waiting for your comments down below :)

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Comments and Reactions

9 responses to “Adobe’s “Real or Fake” Campaign — Learn SM By Example”

  1. I love this message: Never underestimate the power of the fun factor! Well said. I'm going to work with that in my next blog. Everybody wants some fun and laughter… :) Plus, I love Photoshop. That's right up my alley.

  2. M.Bamieh says:

    Lovely and smart campaign, I'm wondering how many forum trolls that scream “FAKE” at everything participated.

  3. Roba Al-Assi says:

    Nice! Though I would have expected somethingmore creative.

  4. seoracer says:

    Thank you this nice post.

  5. Adam Kleinberg says:

    My agency, Traction (, created this program for Adobe. I think the reasons that it was successful were:

    1. It took into account, the nature of Facebook, a provided a simple and fun diversion that reinforced something everyone who has ever used Photoshop has probably done: manipulate photos.

    2. We knew the audience was tech-savvy, so we taught them to do fairly complex techniques in the tutorials embedded in the game.

    The one way I think it could have been executed better would have been to have had a longer term plan in place. The program was successful and gained a great deal of notoriety, but it only ran for a month. Could have capitalized on that more. My two cents.

  6. Yo says:

    How much did this campaign cost Adobe (generally)?

  7. Beiruta says:

    I really don’t know but I will try to look around and get back to you.

  8. Adobe has worked with Traction again to launch Real or Fake 2…. Check it out at

  9. G123678 says:

    Hello, I would love to know how much it costed Adobe to launch this. Thanks.

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