For all of the bad advertising out there, there’s a small number of campaigns that stand out. The brands behind these campaigns decide to take a risk and approach advertising from a refreshing point of view.
Each year the The Gunn Report produces its list of the most successful advertising campaigns, along with insights into each campaign’s strategy, media execution, and effectiveness. This year it singled out 11 campaigns among the best advertising of 2016.
The report identifies the most awarded adverts by combining the winners’ lists from the 45 most important award festivals around the world. It does not disclose which awards festivals are included, so no-one gets annoyed. The common theme for success among most of the ads is to look beyond the brand to make a positive impact on the world in an innovative way.
Always – “Girl Emojis”
Idea: This ad formed part of the #LikeAGirl campaign, which launched in 2014 to tackle the stereotypes society has created that impact young girls’ confidence. Last year’s campaign turned its attention to sexism in emojis.
Strategy: The brand rallied girls to call for the creation of non-stereotypical emojis. After launching its film, ideas for new emojis came in and the brand responded by creating them in real-time.
Effectiveness: The video was the number one ad on YouTube in March 2016 and the campaign received attention from Emma Watson and Arianna Huffington. But the biggest sign of its success came from the emoji creators Unicode Project, which asked Always to pass along ideas for their next update.
Ariel – “Share the Load”
Idea: The laundry detergent brand set out to change a cultural inequality in India, where women do the laundry in 95% of the households. The goal of the campaign was to have men share the job.
Strategy: The company conducted a survey which found the majority of women felt they had a second job at home doing the household chores. Alongside the debate in the media about the results of the survey, the brand partnered with clothing brands to get them to place tags in clothes saying: “This fabric can be washed by both men and women.” It also convinced dating sites to use the “Share the Load” slogan as a woman’s selection criteria.
Effectiveness: The brand doubled its sales targets and 28% of people who watched the ad recalled it. The campaign had a sizable impact on India’s culture where 1.57 million pledged to do the laundry.
Burger King – “McWhopper”
Idea: In honor of Peace Day, Burger King reached out to McDonalds to create a mashup of their two iconic burgers.
Strategy: Everything was planned behind the scenes to publicly get a reaction from McDonald’s. Burger King created a dedicated website for the proposal, alongside ads in two national newspapers, billboard ads, and social media outreach. Even before knowing McDonald’s answer it prepared a co-branded popup shop complete with employee apparel and signs.
Effectiveness: Burger King’s proposal was met with a lot of public support but McDonald’s turned down the offer. That didn’t stop it from happening as people took matters into their own hands and began mashing up the two burgers themselves. Burger King had prepared its campaign for both scenarios, ensuring it was a success. The campaign got 8.9 million media impressions and became the top trending topic on Facebook and Twitter.
DB Export – “Brewtroleum”
- The Heineken Company
Idea: The New Zealand beer brand wanted to remind its male audience that DB Export was still the perfect everyday choice, but needed people to rationalize their choice of the brand over another.
Strategy: The message the brand wanted to send out was: “Drink more beer. Save the world.” To achieve that it created the world’s first “beer by-product” petrol by turning the leftover yeast from its breweries into 300,000 liters of biofuel, which it named “Brewtroleum.”
Early reactions doubted it was possible to turn beer into petrol, so the brand did a live test of the new fuel, which actually worked. It then looked to power anything it could with the petrol and created a physical presence through a partnership with Gull gas stations.
Effectiveness: The campaign was seen by 96% of New Zealand men and sales since the campaign went up by to 10% compared to the previous year.
Louis XIII Cognac – “#NotComingSoon”
- Louis XIII
Idea: Louis XIII wanted to highlight the 100 years it takes to make its cognac and use the campaign to demonstrate effort over generations it takes to make the liquor.
Strategy: The brand teamed up with John Malkovich to shoot a film titled “100 Years – The Movie You Will Never See,” because it will only be released after the 100 years it takes to make the cognac.
It hosted an exclusive screening of the movie’s featurette in Los Angeles, where John Malkovich locked the film reel in a custom safe box and set the timer for November 2115. After the screening, the Remy Martin-owned cognac brand released three teasers exploring what it would be like when the film is released in 100 years.
Effectiveness: The videos received over 1.8 million views and the campaign was named one of the top 10 marketing efforts of the year by trade publication Luxury Daily.
Manulife – “The Price of Living 2040”
Idea: As cost of living in Hong Kong rose to the second-highest level in the world, people living in the city stopped thinking about saving for retirement, posing a significant threat to the Manulife’s retirement insurance business.
Strategy: Manulife placed ads about the cost of living in 2040 across bargain websites to surprise people when they were looking to save money and raise awareness about the importance of retirement savings.
Effectiveness: Videos from the campaign were viewed 1.22 million times in just eight weeks and generated thousands of comments across social media. Research from after the campaign showed that Manulife became the preferred brand for retirement solutions among major competitors.
Microsoft XBOX – “Tomb Raider Survival Billboard”
Idea: Xbox wanted to engage gamers in the relaunch of the popular game franchise during the busiest period of the year for new releases.
Strategy: Xbox created a billboard in central London where eight gamers had to stand through simulated weather – including blizzards, downpours, harsh wind, and extreme heat – all of which were controlled by the public via a live stream. The winner lasted 22 hours on the billboard.
Effectiveness: The single billboard went around the world through live streams on Twitch and the Xbox dashboard. It received 1000 weather votes per hour and people walking past it stayed for eight minutes, much longer than the eight second dwell time for regular billboards.
Sainsbury’s – “Starting the gift of reading at Christmas”
Idea: The British supermarket chain wanted to give parents the chance to spend more time with their children. It came up with the idea to create a story which families could share.
Strategy: Sainsbury’s partnered with the author Judith Kerr to create a new book, which would be sold in Sainsbury’s to raise money for charity Save the Children’s UK literacy programs.
The supermarket created a video of the book, which launched simultaneously on multiple UK television channels. It also helped families who couldn’t be together read the book by creating a special Skype “read-along” version of the book for parents to record videos versions of the story. Teachers added the book to their class plans, and the campaign used Facebook to ask parents to send in videos of themselves reading the book, which it turned into a new TV ad.
Effectiveness: The ad became the most watched Christmas TV campaign ever with over 30 million views on YouTube. 45,000 copies of the book were sold, making it the number one bestseller in the country for four weeks. In total, the campaign raised $1.8 million (£1.6 million) for Save the Children.
Swedish Tourist Association – “The Swedish Number”
Idea: Sweden is one of the more forward-thinking countries in the world when it comes to communicating about itself – it was one of the first countries to have a Twitter account, which it gave control to random citizen each week. With this campaign it wanted to show off how friendly its people are by letting anyone call Sweden. It became the first country with its own phone number, which would connect the caller to a random Swede.
Strategy: At the core of the campaign was the creation biggest cloud-based switchboard in the world. People with a Swedish phone number could download an app, allowing them to participate. A video explaining the project was released, explaining the project and a second one was released a week later showing the Prime Minister answering calls.
Effectiveness: 32,069 ambassadors answered over 180,000 calls. The longest call lasted just under five hours. Best of all, not a penny was spent on media and the campaign was covered around the world.
The Art Institute of Chicago – “Van Gogh BnB”
Idea: To promote its Vincent Van Gogh exhibition in Chicago, which for the first time in North America was exhibiting all three paintings of his famous bedroom, the Art Institute of Chicago partnered with Airbnb to recreate the room and allow people to spend a night in it.
Strategy: A real-life replica of the room was built and put on the home rental website. An extensive outdoor campaign encouraged people to sign up to get texts from Van Gogh and tourists looking at Chicago content on Tripadvisor were targeted with ads from the museum.
Effectiveness: Online ticket sales went up by 250% and the exhibition received over 240,000 visitors, the highest for a special exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Untold Festival/National Institute of Blood – “Pay with Blood”
- National Center for Blood Donations Romania
Idea: Romania is one of the worst countries in Europe when it comes to donating blood, which the National Institute of Blood Donations wanted to change. It partnered with the Untold music festival – Romania’s largest – to target a younger audience and get them to donate blood for the first time in their life.
Strategy: People wanting to go to Untold were able to pay with blood to get a special festival wristband, allowing them to get in. Mobile blood banks with branding from the festival were set up in key cities across Romania and some of the festival’s stars including ATB, Fatman Scoop and Avicii promoted the cause.
Effectiveness: 2,000 people donated blood, 10 times as many as in the average summer. Demand for the wristbands was so high that transfusion centers had to extend their opening hours. The National Blood Donation Center’s Facebook page saw record traffic from the campaign.