2018 was an incredible year for PR and marketing campaigns, and the minds behind them. Great campaigns are entertaining, memorable, and effective. Whether they made you laugh, cry, or scratching your head, you likely to recall seeing them in the media or hearing about them around the water cooler.
Here are a few moments that we’re still thinking about as we head into 2019:
This no doubt tops the list of our
We’re still bitter that this one duped us. The famous pancake house flipped the switch – and their signage – in a campaign to boost sales from their new burger menu. They teased at the meaning of the name change before announcing their “new brand” and a focus on burgers. Head-scratcher or obvious ploy? The internet cites mixed reviews, but the campaign worked: the brand stacked up 42.5 billion media impressions, a 400 percent increase in burger sales, and a 31 percent boost in IHOP’s stock price over the life of the campaign (Adweek). We’re still not likely to choose IHOP as our go-to burger joint, but we applaud their marketing team for pulling this off.
No, we’re not talking about the Tide Pod Challenge epidemic that unbelievably swept the US. This was the sly hit of Superbowl LII, featuring Stranger Things star David Harbour, that had us questioning if every following spot was in fact, “A Tide Ad”. The campaign was revived for Thursday Night Football with a series of online ads. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for other clever campaigns by parent company Procter & Gamble as this year’s Superbowl approaches.
Speaking of the #superbowl, National Geographic capitalized on the trending hashtag last February with a slight twist, asking followers to help them pick the most “Superb Owl”. This swept @NatGeo onto our growing list to publish unexpectedly cheeky content – see @MerriamWebster and @Netflix for reference. While this campaign wasn’t as widespread as the others on our list, it’s not surprising our team of word-nerds would geek out over this one.
For a lesson in personal branding, 2018 looked to
While Alexa had some slightly scary stumbles this year (laughing randomly like a villain, or recording your conversations and sending them to your contacts), our memorable tech pick for 2018 is Amazon’s Alexa ad, specifically their Super Bowl ad ‘Alexa Loses Her Voice’. With a lot of star power (and a bonus acting spot from Jeff Bezos), the ad was entertaining and fun.
And because they can’t all be winners, here’s a list of some of the worst campaigns of the year (in our opinion):
[Product]… for women
NOTE: If you are making a version of your product for women, do us (all women) a favour and ask yourself, “Do I need to do this?” It’s highly likely that the answer will be ‘No’.
MLK Speech used for Dodge Ram ad
In the same speech used in the ad, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke against capitalism and car commercials. The backlash was swift but it made many wonder how the ad made it to the public.
The saga that is Theranos ends
We know it’s not a campaign, but marketing certainly played a huge role in this story. After much media hype that led to its epic rise and subsequent epic fall, Theranos was officially shut down and liquidated, with its founder Elizabeth Holmes facing wire fraud and conspiracy charges. The company was valued at $9B at its peak, and led to investors losing more than $600M in investment, according to WSJ’s John Carreyrou, whose reporting led to the exposure of Theranos.
Honorable Mention (BAD): Fyre Festival
Although this music festival (that somehow involved Ja Rule?) failed epically in the Spring of 2017, and it’s not technically a campaign, the ongoing media disaster that was “Fyre Festival” is the gift that keeps on giving. 2018 brought us updates on the organizers’ legal woes, an entrepreneurial spin on how to recover from the money one lost on their tickets, and a fun new way to describe scam artists.
2019, show us what you’ve got!