In the not-so-distant past, 3D printing sounded like a concept out of a sci-fi fantasy film, but now it’s an undeniable reality.

As a printing technique, 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but until recently, it hasn’t been advanced enough to enthuse the business world. But following pioneering 3D printed campaigns by brands such as Coca-Cola and e-Bay, the technology has found itself entering the mainstream.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of making solid, three dimensional objects from digital files. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes, in which an object is created by laying down layers of material until the entire object is created. Each layer can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the object.

What are the benefits to marketers?

With the advent of 3D printing, the marketing message can be felt, held and used. It becomes tangible. When applied to marketing, 3D printing opens up many dimensions of tangible communication and real-life interaction with consumers.

Take a look at how these brands are capitalizing on 3D printing. Can you see the innovative technology as a part of your future marketing strategy?


In 2013, Coca-Cola introduced its new Mini Bottles in Israel with an innovative digital marketing campaign that included 3D printing.


Consumers logged onto a mobile app to create digital versions of themselves, and then take care of their “mini-me” in an online game.

Several winners were selected to visit the Coca-Cola factory, where they were scanned and given 3D-printed miniature figures of themselves.


Belgian Insurance provider DVV came up with an innovative way to solve a common problem for its customers. Its “Key Save” campaign allowed customers to scan their house keys and save the data on a secure server. If they happened lose their keys, they could take the data to a 3D printer and create a new set instantaneously. It’s a boon not just to customers, but also to the company, as insurance companies lose money yearly on replacing homeowners’ locks.


Homeless charity Barnardos used the technology to remind families how lucky they were to have a roof over their heads at Christmas.


Their emotive “Home for Xmas” campaign encouraged people to make a donation. As an incentive, each day of the campaign, the charity randomly chose a name from the list of people who had donated, and printed a 3D model of their home, which was then fitted inside a personalised snowglobe.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on