Marketing, Strategy
December 17, 2020
My favourite campaigns of 2020 and what small businesses can learn from their success
My favourite campaigns of 2020 and what small businesses can learn from their success

By Felicia Guthrie

It’s that time again, the end of the year. Do you feel like 2020 has felt like the longest and shortest year all at once?! Anyway, I’m excited to share a few of my favourite marketing and advertising campaigns of 2020 – so let’s do this!

KFC – A Recipe for Seduction

Over the last several years, KFC has created some great ads, like the legendary FCK ad created during their UK chicken storage. Earlier this year, they quickly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by changing their iconic tagline from “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” to just, “It’s Good.” Now, KFC’s newest campaign comes in the form of a 15-minute mini-movie called A Recipe for Seduction, created in partnership with the television network Lifetime. When I first saw this trending, I, like I’m certain many others, thought it was just bizarre, but actually… I LOVE the idea. In celebration of and in addition to their film airing this month (it dropped on the 13th), they also offered a meal deal with UberEats, so we could enjoy their mini-movie with some KFC chicken.

Did I watch it? Yes. Did I get a pang of hunger while I watched? Also yes. Did I tell others about the mini-movie when I heard about it? YES, YES.

What I love about this campaign is that it’s so unexpected, sure, it’s kind of cheesy and the movie was bad (in a good way), but it’s also fun, unique, AND it has people talking. I think it’s a great example of finding ways to keep your business current by tapping into current trends and pop-culture. It also shows the value of thinking outside the box.

BBC Dracula Campaign

Another campaign I loved this year is this Out-of-Home ad for the BBC series Dracula. The ad looks like a collection of bloody wooden stakes (THE way to kill a vampire like Dracula) alongside the series info (show title, time, network, etc). As night falls however, a shadow cast by the stakes and a well-placed side light reveals the side profile of Dracula, teeth bared. I’m a Halloween, horror loving kinda girl – so I quite liked this, but the Out-of-Home campaign received a lot of love from others as well! Much like the KFC ad, this shows how a little creativity and thinking outside the box can go a long way!

Google – Loretta

One of my favourite ads of the year, and certainly my favourite ad of the 2020 Superbowl, was the Google Loretta ad. In this ad, a man uses the Google Assistant to remember details about his time with the love of his life, his late wife Loretta. The ad, which was inspired by a Google employee’s grandfather, also features the man’s voice throughout the spot. Not only did this commercial catch our attention, but it left many of us, me included, in tears. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still have the same effect on me whenever I see it.

Google expertly used story-telling to elicit an emotional response from users, while also showing how their product/services can benefit us as users. Being able to tell a thought- or emotion-provoking story helps create a connection between your brand and consumers, but be sure that the story is relevant to your brand! Find a way to tell a story while also showing your value as a business or service because consumers want to know what your product or business can do for them!

Starbucks – Every Name’s a Story

If you’ve ever been to a Starbucks, you’ll know that upon ordering, a barista will ask for your name with your order. At Starbucks they see this act as a welcoming of all people. This year, they used that action in this heartfelt campaign.

Through insights from real life stories, Starbucks learned many transgender people will try their new names at Starbucks and with this insight came the “Every Name’s a Story” campaign. The ad tells the story of a young trans man who is continuously referred to by his deadname, Jemma, which he does not identify with, and which we can see causes him sadness. In the last scene however, a Starbucks barista asks, “And what’s your name?” to which he answers, “James,” with a smile. It ends with the name James being called while he accepts his beverage with another smile.

The ad, which was a message of acceptance for all people, tugged at heartstrings. In addition to the ad, Starbucks also partnered with a UK charity, Mermaids, which supports the transgender community and their families, by offering mermaid cookies in-store with proceeds going to the charity.

This ad was great for many reasons and there’s certainly something to take away from it, for one it used audience listening to create a campaign, the campaign created from the insights learned was heartfelt and felt genuine, it was inclusive, and it makes the values and beliefs of the company clear.

In 2020, customers are more connected than ever, and they want to know what causes companies and businesses stand for and rally behind. So if there are causes that are important to your brand, that feel organic to incorporate into your marketing, don’t be afraid to explore how you can talk about them within through your marketing.

As with the Loretta Google ad, provoking an emotional response can help people connect with your brand and business – which makes them more likely to support you.

And of course, look for little nuggets of insights – which may take some research. Try looking at social media, blogs, Youtube videos, reviews, or even polling your customers to find out how and why they use your products/services. You could very well find out something you didn’t know but that’ll lead to a big idea for a campaign.

As we move into the new year, I’m excited to see the new campaigns that come up, but in the meantime, let us know what some of your favourite campaigns were in 2020!

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