What campaigns would you choose as the best marketing campaigns of all time?
In the past, television, radio and newspaper were the media of choice for campaigns. In today’s data-driven world, though the medium may have changed, the essential elements of a good marketing campaign have not changed.
According to AdAge in the last 15 years, advertising and marketing, and the media are used to get out its messages has experienced an incredible upheaval as digital media and interactivity changed the dynamics of how consumers see and pay attention brand messages.
The article notes that control shifted from marketers and traditional media timing their messages and forcing consumers to see ads as a trade-off for the content they wanted to see to the consumer wielding remote control and computer mouse.
Traditional media found itself scrambling to stay relevant as digital media wreaked havoc with the guarantee that consumers were likely to see ad messages.
Expensive journalism distributed free online amassed audience but not ad dollars and wiped out a whole generation of magazines and newspapers, while DVRs, podcasts, streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu challenged TV and radio models. Out of this massive shift, marketers and agencies got very innovative in turning these new tools to their advantage.
Today, brands are still using marketing campaigns to get the attention of their target audience, drive purchase and leave people with a positive impression of their brand. These days it’s all about creating a campaign that’s going viral. Live video has become a trend in the digital world.
If viral marketing has taught advertisers anything, it’s that the biggest celebrity in the world means next to nothing compared with your close friends and family.
The reason, as noted here, is because 81% of customers make purchase decisions based on recommendations from their friends.
The Best Marketing Campaigns of All Time
Below are some of the best marketing campaigns of all time (in no particular order). If you disagree with the campaigns mentioned below, please let me know which campaigns you feel should make a list.
Nike: Just Do It (1988)
This iconic campaign introduced in 1988 and it’s core message “Just Do It” still works 30+ years later. According to The Atlantic, the campaign positioned Nike as a clever marketing company that just happened to sell shoes.
Apple: Get a Mac
This Apple campaign ran from 2006 to 2009. It helped to create the iconic brand that Apple is today. It’s simple, powerful and informative.
According to Wikipedia, the ads play on perceived weaknesses of non-Mac personal computers, especially those running Microsoft Windows, of which PC is clearly intended to be a parody, and corresponding strengths possessed by the Mac OS (such as immunity to circulating viruses and spyware targeted at Microsoft Windows).
Red Bull: Stratos (2012)
The Red Bull Stratos campaign is said to be one of the most live-streamed events in the history of the internet. There was so much buzz about Red Bull that people were eager to taste and experience it.
DeBeers: A Diamond is Forever (1947)
There is a famous saying that if something isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it. It’s the case with the A Diamond is Forever campaign that has been running for over 70 years! Did you know that only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds before this slogan was created?
Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty (2013)
Do you consider yourself beautiful? What’s your definition of beauty? This campaign went viral on YouTube and has helped to change how we all look at beauty.
Old Spice: The Man, Your Man, Can Smell Like (2010)
My grandad loved Old Spice! So I always thought of it as an ‘old’ man’s brand. Then in 2010, this campaign went viral on social media.
The campaign targets female viewers, despite the product’s target market, is male, as the company determined that women frequently make purchasing decisions in respect of hygiene products even for male household members. So based on the performance of the campaign itis safe to say that women truly wanted their man to look and smell like the guy in the ad.Many of these campaigns are big-budget campaigns. But it does not mean that the average business cannot borrow ideas from them. Click To Tweet
Coke: Share a Coke (2011)
The Share a Coke campaign began in Australia in 2011 when Coca-Cola personalised each bottle with the 150 most famous names in the country.
Since then, the U.S. has followed suit, printing first names across the front of its bottles and cans in Coke’s branded font. You can even order custom bottles on Coke’s website to request things like nicknames and college logos.
KFC: “FCK” (2018)
In February 2018, when KFC’s business in the U.K. ran out of fried chicken in Central London, they created this campaign to halt the PR crisis. They took out full-page ads in Metro newspaper and rearranged the letters in their name to create an explicit apology and acknowledge the fact that they messed up!
What is worth noting here is the fact that a major brand could be humble enough to own up publicly and admit that they messed up. It goes to show that nobody is perfect.
The creative manner in which their rivals also capitalised on the situation is also worth mentioning. You should always be on the lookout of how to make the best of a crappy situation.
Guinness: Made of More (2013)
Guinness’ wheelchair basketball ad in its “Made of More” campaign is my personal favourite of all the marketing campaigns. It portrays a group of athletic, beer-drinking men who are defined as much by their kindness as their physical strength.
What is unique is that for once, it encourages able-bodied people to try to experience the world from the perspective of persons with disabilities and not the other way around. It is what friendship, empathy, love is all about. Cudos to Guinness 🙂
Star Beer: “Sunrise to Sunset” (2010)
Commemorating 50 years of Nigeria’s Independence and 60 years of Star’s presence as the nations premier drink. At the time, the advertising campaign claimed to be the most expensive and ambitious advert ever shot in Nigeria and from the looks of it, you cannot doubt it.
The way they blended the old (old delivery trucks, drink cartons, scenery) with the new to create feelings of nostalgia; it is impressive.
Volvo: Epic Split (2013)
“The Epic Split,” in which Jean-Claude Van Damme performs a split between two reversing trucks to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo’s dynamic steering. The ad showed that emotion is a powerful way to convey product benefits to both the general public and to truck experts.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (2014)
According to this article, the origin of the campaign has been attributed to Pete Frates, a Boston College alumnus who was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a campaign to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
In the challenge a person is filmed as a bucket of water and ice is dumped over the individual’s head. The individual then nominates a minimum of three people to do the same thing, having only a 24-hour time frame to complete the challenge and make a donation to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association.
It went viral in July and August 2014, using social media as a platform to reach a worldwide audience. Lots of celebrities and important personalities across the globe participated in the challenge.
Pepsi: We Will Rock You (2010)
Imagine a commercial featuring six living legends i.e. Britney Spears, Beyonce, Pink, Enrique Iglesias, Brian May and Roger Taylor. It’s an epic movie. LOL. It can only take a global brand like Pepsi to pull this off.
The first time I saw this, I was scared for Britney Spears and Beyonce because they were no match for Pink! The budget for this must have been something. 🙂
The takeaway for SMBs is that having celebrity influencers as brand ambassadors and a catchy tune in your ad, can do wonders for your brand.
Many of these campaigns are big-budget campaigns. But it does not mean that the average business cannot borrow ideas from these. Marketing is not all about money. You need to be creative. Know what appeals to your target audience.
So, there you have it! These are, in my opinion, the best marketing campaigns of all time. Is there any campaign you feel should be on this list? Let me know.
Further Reading: How to Make Your Marketing Campaigns More Appealing
Disclaimer: These are my choice of best marketing campaigns of all time, campaigns that appeal to me. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list.
- Guide to the Best Ads That Work for Your Business
- How to Speak to Your Audience Using AIDA and Digital Marketing
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