Marketing, Strategy
February 27, 2020
My favourite marketing campaigns of all time
My favourite marketing campaigns of all time

By Felicia Guthrie

A great marketing campaign doesn’t just encourage consumers to buy what you’re selling. It can speak to generations of consumers, inspire loyalty, and leave a lasting impression. Many of my favourite marketing campaigns inspire a strong emotional response, they’re moving, and sometimes they’re humorous. Let’s take a look at some of my favourite marketing campaigns ever (in no particular order).

Tide – It’s a Tide Ad

This campaign, featuring Stranger Things actor David Harbour, premiered during the 2018 Super Bowl and it was one of, if not THE, most talked about ads.

The first spot of the series featured David Harbour in several different but typical types of commercials, telling us that every time you see an ad featuring clean clothes, it’s a Tide ad. More ads followed the initial one throughout the game, many spoofing other popular ads, such as the Mr. Clean and Old Spice commercials and many others. In each Tide ad that followed, it was established that it’s not a beer ad, or a car ad, or even a cologne ad, it’s really a Tide ad.

The campaign worked because not only was it humorous, it also made viewers question if every other ad that followed it, was a Tide ad and view it as such, even if it wasn’t actually a Tide ad! We began associating every commercial with clean clothes as a Tide commercial, partially because we wanted to feel like we were in on the joke, partially because it built a connection in our mind: clean clothes equals the use of Tide.

If you take anything from this campaign, let it be to tell a story and build connections, if possible.

Metro Trains (Australia) – Dumb Ways to Die

This Metro Trains marketing campaign started with an animated PSA featuring a super catchy song, sung by a mellow pretty sounding voice. The song describes several dumb ways we can die, like putting a fork in a toaster, or say, not being safe around trains.

I personally enjoyed this ad because it featured a little bit of dark humour, had cute cartoons, and was memorable. I think these reasons were also why many others enjoyed the ad as well. It was also easy to find because it was really shareable and entertaining on social media.

This ad shows us that thinking outside the box, even having a bit of fun with your campaign, can create dynamic, engaging content that really catches viewers’ attention.

Dove – Real Beauty Campaign

This marketing campaign series began in the early 2000’s but the message and campaign continues today. Dove found that 8 out of 10 girls opt out of key everyday activities because they don’t feel good about their appearance. With that info, Dove created a campaign centered on a mission: “helping young people all around the world build positive body confidence and self-esteem.”

Dove supported this mission in multiple but significant ways such as using “real” people (not famous celebrities) in their ads and by providing resources to mentors, parents, leaders, and teachers to help teach and inspire confidence.

This approach, while not focusing on Dove products themselves, works because we associate bath and beauty products with our own bodies and how we feel about them as well as how the products we use make us feel. Many, if not all of us, have had moments when our self-esteem was low, perhaps we didn’t like our hair, or how our body looked, or something else. Whatever the case, it’s an emotion that is relevant with many women, girls, and even with men and boys.

The Dove Real Beauty campaign teaches us that by understanding your audience – their needs, wants, and how they view themselves and your brand – you can find special nuggets of insight, which you can tap into to resonate with your audience in a truly meaningful way that is relevant to your brand and values.

A Production of Concerned Children’s Advertisers and Health Canada

When this PSA first came out I was around only 3 years old. While I couldn’t truly grasp the message as a young kid in the 90’s, I remember seeing this during my cartoons at a very young age. As young as I was, it always stayed with me for some reason.

The spot featured two young men, one a patient in a facility and the other his friend. The Hollies’, “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,” plays during most of the commercial, which was a terrific choice for the message – help your friends who are using and struggling with drugs. While the spot itself may look very dated now, the message is still relevant today as many teens and young adults are still pressured to try and to use drugs.

While this PSA didn’t feature dark humour like Dumb Ways to Die, it did feature an issue that many can relate to, and like the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, it provoked a bit of an emotional response and urged us to help others, specifically those close to us, which is something that can speak to many of us.

SickKids VS

The first SickKids VS brand campaign came out around 3 years ago. There are several different versions and, while I like the others particularly MomStrong and DadStrong, I’m highlighting the first “Undeniable,” as my favourite as it kicked off the campaign.

This campaign for SickKids hospital, set to up-tempo music, tells a powerful story. It shows children facing health issues with strength and courage, as well as their parents, and the health care professionals who face these challenges with them. It gives us a glimpse into each of their lives and stories; it shows the determination and strength, of each and everyone involved in the fight and in particular the kids who faces these challenges and illnesses. Suffice it to say, the ad strikes an emotional chord that moves and inspires.

While there are many other marketing campaigns that I have enjoyed over the years, the above are just a few of my favourites – those that come to mind first when I think of campaigns I‘ve enjoyed.

One key takeaway from all of these marketing campaigns is that you should find something that resonates with your audience and tell a story, whether it’s funny, uplifting, or emotional. Find a way to truly connect with your audience.

What is your favourite campaign and why? Let us know in the comments!

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