#InsideBrandwatch: We Choose Our Top 10 Marketing Campaigns of 2017

It’s that time of the year when we take a deep breath, look back, and with our thinking caps on, we analyze our main highlights for this year. What have we learned? What’s changed? What has made an impact on us?

#InsideBrandwatch, we often share interesting ideas, campaigns, and articles we find on the web with the wider team. It helps us all grow and learn.

In the spirit of fueling this initiative, we came up with the idea of creating a list of the most exciting, impactful, or unusual marketing campaigns of 2017.

I spoke with various members of our design, marketing and sales teams, and they’ve all put serious thought in selecting their top choice.

Let’s find out what they said!

Spotify: Play this at my funeral

Chosen by Jo Petty, our Digital Project Manager

Spotify worked with ad agency Wieden + Kennedy New York to create a series of videos and ads focused on user playlists, calling out the obscure and the funny.

This followed on from the successful ad campaign they did back in 2016 where they used general user data to create memorable ads which they then pasted up on massive billboards in city centers.

The series of videos even featured artists such as DNCE and D.R.A.M commenting on the obscure playlists which featured their songs, with the “Play This At My Funeral” video spouting a number of spin-off memes.

This campaign shows that simple ideas can go far: Spotify used data they had at their fingertips to promote the playfulness of their company and their users, plus added an honest, unexpected angle to the Spotify brand.

IKEA: The “Place” app

Chosen by Gemma Joyce, our Social Data Journalist

It’s been great to see brands experimenting with new possibilities this year without being gimmicky.

IKEA’s “Place” app that uses augmented reality to show how furniture looks in people’s homes is a great example of how to create a branded experience that uses trending tech and is genuinely useful to the consumer.

The app actually made IKEA one of the top mentioned brands in the online AR conversation.

Aside from all the fun you can have virtually placing coffee tables in the middle of the street and effectively jazzing up your apartment as if you were playing The Sims, it helps people make more informed decisions about their purchases.

It also cuts out expletive-heavy arguments over whether a new couch will match the color scheme occurring in store in front of children. It’s a public service app if ever I saw one.

The New York Times: The truth is hard to find

Chosen by Joshua Boyd, our Social Data Journalist

We’re in a weird time. As it’s often said: this isn’t normal. There’s political upheaval across the world making journalism all the more important. Instead we’ve seen it struggle.

‘The Truth is Hard to Find’ campaign from the The New York Times attempts to portray the importance of journalism at a time it’s needed most.

Timed with print ads, they released video ads made up of photos narrated by those who took them. One involved photojournalist Bryan Denton and his photos after his convoy was bombed by ISIS.

It’s a striking, but simple campaign that hopefully not only bolstered The New York Times, but journalism as a whole.

MailChimp: Did you mean MailChimp?

Chosen by Chelsea Varney, our Field Marketing Manager, EMEA

WhaleSynth, MaleCrimp and VeilHymn, all sound pretty similar, but not quite.

Email Marketing platform, MailChimp, created short films, songs and other playful yet surreal campaigns about how people regularly mispronounce its name.

Each mispronunciation had its own branding, style and message which ultimately led back to the MailChimp website.

One of the campaigns, Kale Limp reveals the origin of the vegetable. In this fantasy short film, a couple order some Kale in a deserted restaurant. The waiter goes to collect the vegetable and we see that the greenery comes from the coat of a dog completely made of Kale. Weird.

MailChimp’s adverts stand out due to them being multi-touch and abstract. It’s designed to reach an audience in different settings, whether that is a cinema, website or Spotify and stick with them due to its absurdity.

Apple: “The Earth” ad

Chosen by Emma Shanahan, our Product Marketing Manager

As a loyal Android user, I have mixed feelings about Apple and their products but I can’t fault this campaign. The concept is nothing new but the message couldn’t be more relevant.

Firstly, the ad is almost a direct hit at Donald Trump’s decision to remove the US from the Paris Agreement. These acts of politically charged marketing are becoming more common than not, and that’s not a bad thing.

Brands generally have quite loyal followings, with Apple probably winning in that respect. They grasped the opportunity to influence change or just even start a conversation.

Secondly, this ad is highly emotive. This could be down to the Baz Luhrmann -esque narrative or the powerful imagery that is cleverly reminiscent of the David Attenborough’s Planet Earth.

Either way, I know I would have struggled to stay dry eyed if I watched it hungover.

Ultimately, this ad conveys a very powerful message in an effective way while also leading with a USP of their product. Job well done in my opinion.

Heineken: World’s Apart

Chosen by Natalie Kate Stewart, our Head of Content and Social

In April 2017 we saw two advertising campaigns with similar concepts at heart – but one was pulled after just 24 hours, whilst the other saw world-wide acclaim. These were Pepsi and Heineken’s campaigns, showcasing ‘people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony’.

Let’s not talk about Pepsi’s ill-judged, ‘tone-deaf’ effort here – we’ve covered it elsewhere on the blog – but instead let’s celebrate what I think is one of the best campaigns of the year, Heineken’s ‘World’s Apart’.

In it we see real people meeting for the first time and given flat-pack furniture to assemble, apparantly without wanting to smash each other’s brains out with a power-tool (this is entirely unrealistic, as anyone who’s assembled flat-pack furniture with another human being can attest).

Through watching a video, sat at the wooden bar they just made together, they then discover they’ve been paired up with their ‘opposite’ – a feminist with a man from the ‘new right’, an environmental activist with a climate change denier, a transgender woman with a man who believes transgenderism ‘isn’t right’.

Do they leave, or do they enjoy an icy-cold Heineken together, putting their differences aside?

Of course, they’re going to choose the beer. It’s an advertising campaign, after all. But it landed well for me, and proved that with the right execution, big brands taking on big social and political issues doesn’t have to tank.

McDonald’s: Search It

Chosen by Jonny Phipps, our Social Intelligence Specialist

It’s not surprising that McDonald’s has the most visible logo online. What is surprising is that their recent campaign doesn’t mention their brand at all.

Omnicom’s dedicated McDonald’s agency “We Are Unlimited” launched an ad campaign to encourage us to search online where you can find the best Coca-Cola.

The ad features Mindy Kaling, who had previously voiced her love for McDonald’s on Twitter, and in 2015, created her own Mindy Burger in partnership with Umami Burger.

So, it’s a no-brainer that the number one quick-serve restaurant on Brandwatch’s Social Index hopes to leverage her influence and target Coca-Cola drinkers to lure them to eat their food.

As a member of our sales team I’m a fan of leveraging relationships and using the power of influence to convert new customers. I’d expect more from McDonald’s in 2018 to leverage other companies and influencers, and ultimately, drive more sales.

Guinness: Hop House 13 lager

Chosen by Phill Agnew, our Product Marketing Manager

When I thought about my campaign of the year, I didn’t search the web, I searched my bank statement. 

I tried to find a advertisement that actually makes me buy something. But that doesn’t happen much.  

Sure I liked the Fearless Girl, but we don’t use McCann.
I liked Nike #Breaking2, but I don’t buy their running shoes.
I loved Heinekens ‘World’s apart’, but I didn’t buy their beer.

So my best campaign goes to this: a nationwide campaign for a new beer. I now drink that beer.

Don’t get caught up in claims that your brand needs to be loved, that you need to have passionate fans. You just need to be present in a consumer’s mind when they make a purchase.

Patagonia: Fighting for public lands

Chosen by Rebecca Harrison, our Art Director

Days before the Trump administration debated the downgrading of 27 National Monuments, Patagonia aired its first-ever TV advert.

The campaign is a manifesto. A bold, yet humble monologue juxtaposed with imagery of sweeping mountains, nodding oil pumps and felled trees highlights how disaster can environmental creep unnoticed.

Not only does it encourage us to protect land for future generations, it also shows how corporate responsibility and environmental consciousness has, and should, have a place in the marketing agenda.

Marketing can be accused of stereotypically pushing a capitalist agenda, regardless of the content of the advertisement. However, companies like Patagonia and campaigns like this bring with them a clear call to action.

Evil doesn’t have to be an overt act; it can be merely the absence of good. If you have the ability, the resources, and the opportunity to do good and you do nothing, that can be evil. – Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard

Nike: #Breaking2

Chosen by Kellan Terry, our PR Data Manager

You have to love the gumption of a campaign that is willing to fail. That’s the best part of Nike’s #Breaking2 campaign. Aimed at selling their VaporFly Elite running shoes, Nike set out to accomplish something that has never been done before – complete a marathon in under two hours.

The feat seems humanly impossible, and when everything was over, Nike’s runners missed their goal by literal seconds.

We can only guess if the campaign would have been more successful with a runner crossing the finish line under the two-hour mark, but I can tell you that I’ve never seen a hashtag accumulate so many impressions. Trillions of impressions.

Maybe I liked this campaign because I had a professor in grad school who told me and my classmates to “fail harder,” which has resonated with me since. Regardless, Nike is a brand that urges its customers to push their limits, and this campaign showcased that perfectly.

Have we missed any groundbreaking campaigns? What was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section.


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