A Year in Review: Our Favourite Campaigns of 2018

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:

Gritty

This no doubt tops the list of our favourite campaign of 2018. “Viral” is a bit of a trigger word for the team here at The Agency, but there’s no other way to describe the unveiling of the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot, Gritty. Equal parts hilarious and terrifying, since the very moment Gritty skated into our nightmares (and our hearts) we have had him on our social media must-watch list ever since. Our hats are off to the team who thought up this stroke of marketing / PR genius and curates the AMAZING content for his profiles. What’s so genius is they get great coverage and social engagement on everything they do with Gritty, this translates to massive positive ROI for the Flyers. We don’t expect people’s obsession with Gritty to end any time soon, and we’re okay with that.

IHOP TO IHOB

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.

Tide (It’s a Tide Ad)

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.

National Geographic’s #SuperbOwl

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.

Chrissy Teigen

For a lesson in personal branding, 2018 looked to model-turned-social media sensation, Chrissy Teigen. Chrissy was already a well-known celebrity prior to 2018, thanks to her modeling and hosting gigs as well as the launch of her first cookbook, and of course, her social media prowess and #relationshipgoals with John Legend. This year, Chrissy seemed to be EVERYWHERE. The Instagram account @commentsbycelebs posted regular recaps of her epic Twitter and Instagram clapbacks. For every social media troll who said that she was just riding the coattails of her husband, she had a successful project to come back with, such as the release of her new Cravings cookbook, a new kitchen line for Target (which gives us serious FOMO), and industry recognition – she even received Glamour’s Woman of the Year Award. Plus she’s seriously relatable. Chrissy Teigen’s personal brand is authentic and we loved following her in 2018!

Honorable Mention (GOOD): Amazon Alexa

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

Beer for girls! + Lady Doritos + Johnnie Walker + Female Colonel Sanders  … anything unnecessarily ‘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!

Leave a Comment