10 MORE of the Most Remarkable Marketing Campaigns in History

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Rachel Leist
Rachel Leist



If you read this blog, you know you'll frequently hear us talking about remarkable campaigns that have both inspired and impressed us: from Old Spice going viral with personalized videos, to Elf Yourself entertaining us for yet another holiday season. We've even published SlideShare presentations about remarkable campaigns, as you may remember.

But quite a few more top-notch marketing campaigns have been executed to near-perfection in the last several years (and decades). Even companies we'd never heard of created remarkable campaigns and took the spotlight.

Because there are so many great campaigns that have come and gone (or stuck around, in some cases), we decided that the original 10 just wasn't enough -- so I rounded up 10 more of the most remarkable marketing campaigns in history.

Take a look at the original list in this SlideShare, then meet me below for the newest additions to our hall of fame.

10 MORE of the Most Remarkable Campaigns in History

1) Will Ferrell's Anchorman 2 Promotion

Right before Christmas last year, Anchorman 2 arrived in theaters. But in the months leading up to its premiere, Will Ferrell dressed as Ron Burgundy and traveled around the world promoting the movie. You may have seen him on Conan O'Brien's show being interviewed as Burgundy, or on Bismarck's KXMB-TV evening news as a co-anchor, or maybe his day at Emerson College, which named its communications school after the character.

What made this campaign remarkable?

When a big-budget movie comes out, there is typically a lot of promotion about it. You may see them advertised on billboards and TV and see the release date promoted on social media. However, what Will Ferrell and the Anchorman 2 team did was extraordinary: They took a beloved character and put him with all his quirks into the real world.

First, Ferrell and his team had a complete understanding of the persona they were targeting. With that in mind, you saw him show up in the places that his target audience would appear in the most: social, blogs, news sites, and ad spots. He could even be seen taking over websites like Huffington Post to write content or anchoring the news as we see in the video above. The campaign was integrated across multiple channels, fully taking advantage of all of the different places you may find an Anchorman 2 fan.

What also makes this campaign unique is the amount of earned media the film was able to garner in addition to its co-marketing partnerships created. In an AdWeek article, Megan Wahtera, Paramount’s SVP of Interactive Marketing said, "Our fans have been creating content and essentially marketing for us. But it’s our job to feed the frenzy."

Whether or not you agree that this campaign was a success, given how much time, resources, effort, and money were poured into it, you have to give it up for Ferrell and Co. for the willingness to try something new and brave.

2) California Milk Processor Board's "Got Milk?" Campaign

At one point or another, you've likely seen at least one "Got Milk?" commercial or ad. Whether it was Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, or some other celeb wearing a milk mustache, it's hard to flip through a magazine without seeing the famed ad. How exactly did this campaign get going?

In the 1990s, the California Milk Processor Board saw that less and less people were drinking milk each year. So, they decided to hire the advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners to help solve this problem through a marketing campaign. They targeted current milk drinkers and created an ad for television, radio, and billboards. And yes, the campaign was around milk. There are not a lot of innovative or exciting things you could do with milk. Or so we thought.

What made this campaign remarkable?

One big reason we consider this campaign a success is the fact that ... well ... milk is pretty boring. Considering just how popular the ads have become over the years for a product that really can't be improved or enhanced is pretty (you guessed it) remarkable.

Not only were the goals of the campaign met, but they were also far exceeded. Milk consumption in California stopped declining -- in fact, it increased by 7% from 1993 to 1994. Milk sales grew by 13.5 million gallons -- in other words, by $34 million. Not too shabby.

Even though there've been other campaigns promoting commodities, the "Got Milk?" campaign is one of the most well-known campaigns in history. In addition to the impressive numbers the campaign produced, the ad continues to live on. Even though it's over two decades old, you can still find the ads in many print magazines with some of the most popular celebrities.

Who would've thought that its popularity would continue after all these years?

3) WestJet Christmas Miracle Video

Around this past year's holiday season, WestJet Airlines customers came to the airport for their flight like it was any other day. But when they got to the gate, they saw what looked like a large present with a webcam of Santa inside. Different passengers went up to the gift and told Santa what they wanted for Christmas and then boarded the flight. They didn't suspect anything.

When they got to their destination, they went to baggage claim. Instead of retrieving their bags, gifts came out with all of the presents inside that they had asked for. See it for yourself. 

What made this campaign remarkable?

This campaign was exciting and delightful to all of the WestJet customers to have their wishes granted. Whether they were asking for a plane ticket home for the holidays, a tablet, or new underwear, they got what they wanted -- and the company made a big name for itself.

In addition to the close to 35 million views the video has on YouTube, WestJet exemplified what every company should strive for: Going above and beyond to delight its customers.

4) Apple's Mac vs. PC Commercials

Beginning in 2006, Apple created a series of commercials featuring two people: one was a Mac and the other a PC. The Mac was a young, handsome man, while the PC was an older man who stumbled on his words. They would simply have a discussion about the different things they could do, with the PC always seeming like he was having trouble keeping up with the Mac. In some commercials, PCs could not communicate with other devices like digital cameras. In others, the PC kept freezing or restarting.

What made this campaign remarkable?

When you think of the most popular Apple commercial, you may think of Apple's first commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. Believe it or not, their Mac vs. PC commercials ended up being the most successful campaigns for them. They experienced 42% market share growth in the first year as a result of these commercials.

What made these campaigns really special was the way they talked about the features that made Macs superior to PCs in a way that was still engaging but extremely informative.

They also positioned the Mac as a "cool" product -- something that had not been done before. Previously, personal computing was not looked at as cool, but as soon as these commercials aired, the Mac became associated with being cool. All in all, 66 commercials were produced between May 2006 and October 2009, and each one delivered an on-point message that helped bolster Apple's reputation in a big way.

5) Oreo's Creme vs. Cookie Debate

When you think of Oreo and Super Bowl 2013, you may think of their popular tweet that gained them a lot of recognition. However, their first Super Bowl commercial sparked a two-month campaign that proved to be highly successful for their social media presence. It all started with this.

This commercial sparked the battle -- and, more importantly, a conversation about the Oreo brand -- between the people who think the cream part of Oreos are better and the people who think the cookie part of Oreos are better. Oreo encouraged people to post pictures of them and Oreos onto Instagram and use the hashtag #cookiethis or #cremethis, depending on which part of the cookie they thought was better.

At the end of the campaign, Oreo created a website called SuperImportantTest.com (which seems to be down now). But the website gave participants access to entertaining videos and basically told all participants that there was no wrong answer to the cookie vs. creme debate.

What made this campaign remarkable?

Before the campaign kicked off, Oreo had 2,200 followers on Instagram. About 15 seconds after the Super Bowl ad aired, they had 22,000 followers and continued to gain traction over the next two months.

The Super Bowl commercial currently has about 2.6 million views on YouTube. In addition to those incredible figures, Oreo marketers took a topic that everyone could relate to and sparked a debate between the two parties. This "competition" between the #cremethis and #cookiethis participants revived a brand most of us grew up enjoying.

6) Chipotle's "Scarecrow" Video

Chipotle needed to do something to promote their Food with Integrity campaign, and with this video, the company certainly found an effective way to do so.

This campaign is Chipotle's commitment to serving the most high-quality food and respecting animals on its menu by not using antibiotics or added hormones. Enter the Chipotle Scarecrow.

This video shows animals getting treated poorly before being slaughtered for their meat, and the Scarecrow's reaction to this type of torture. And of course, the background music -- Fiona Apple's "Pure Imagination" -- adds the perfect, somber element to the story.

It then shows him going home and getting an idea about how to create a burrito business with vegetables and meat that were not injected with anything remotely harmful. At the end of the video, you see the Scarecrow at a burrito stand with the message "Cultivate a Better World."

What made this campaign remarkable?

Since "The Scarecrow" was launched, it's gotten nearly 12 million views on YouTube, with 6.5 million in the first two weeks. In addition, Chipotle released an iPhone app featuring the Scarecrow that was immediately in the top 15 free iOS applications. After the app was released for four days, it had 250,000 downloads.

In addition to the impressive stats, Chipotle's video was able to carve out a very specific niche in the market that is very hard for some of their other competitors to touch. This campaign helped differentiate the company against other fast-food restaurants by targeting a topic that their audience really cares about.

7) Volkswagen's Think Small Ads

In the 1960s, Volkswagen had quite the dilemma: Everyone wanted luxury sports cars that were fashion statements and magnificent, and they were selling a small car that wasn't fast or flashy by any means.

So what did they do? They were brutally honest about their car and created ads that showed just how small their car was.


What made this campaign remarkable?

If you opened your newspaper and saw an ad with a ton of whitespace, it would get your attention. After all, the other ads of the time, particularly for cars, featured huge, eye-catching pictures. Volkswagen took a different approach -- telling the honest truth about its products -- and it worked out in their favor.

Why is this remarkable? Simply put: VW used a minimalist approach and maximized its reach (and bottom line). They told the truth -- they didn't try to trick their customers -- and their audience appreciated this approach. And we can still see the positive effects of that approach now.

8) Dove's Real Beauty Sketches

It can be hard to keep a marketing campaign alive after so many years. And yet, Dove has seemed to be nothing but successful in this area as evidenced by their Real Beauty Sketches campaign.

Dove hired an FBI-trained sketch artist and asked them to draw each of their female volunteers twice. The first time, each woman described herself, and the second time, a random stranger described that woman.

The results were unbelievable. The images that were drawn were completely different, which confirms Dove's statistic that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.

What made this campaign remarkable?

The different videos showing Dove's sketches were viewed more than 114 million times. They were also shared 3.74 million times. It was also uploaded in 25 languages and seen in 110 countries. The PR and blogger media impression was over 4 billion.

The video also had a huge emotional response from its audience. Dove's survey data stated that over half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic. People were not only really touched by the videos but also by these staggering statistics.

In addition to showcasing these statistics online, Dove took a very simple approach to just do persona marketing. They took a topic that they knew was a sensitive but also popular topic for their customers and created ads based on what their customers think vs. what is actually true. Though it was a simple campaign, it had a huge effect.

9) Make-A-Wish's Day for Batkid

Make-A-Wish Foundation made 5-year-old Miles Scott's dream come true when they turned San Francisco into Gotham City for the day. Miles, dressed as Batman, went around the city, stopping crime with an adult Batman and saving San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal, halting a bank robbery, and greeting excited guests who had come from all over to see Batkid in action. 

What made this campaign remarkable?

To the surprise of Make-A-Wish Foundation, Batkid gained a lot of attention. Pretty soon, people from all over the world were tuning in to watch what Miles was up to, and they even got a Vine from President Obama himself thanking Batkid for protecting the city.

There were about 20,000 people who went to City Hall to watch Batkid in action, more than 1.8 billion potential impressions on Twitter, 16,000 Instagram pictures with Batkid, and 23.6 million potential Instagram impressions.

But what makes this campaign remarkable is more than just the stats.

"Make-a-Wish leveraged their existing volunteer and donor community in San Francisco to attend the event who ended up taking pictures and videos that went viral online," says Taylor Corrado, Head of Nonprofit Marketing at HubSpot. "Every kid's dream is to be a superhero for a day. The fact that Make-A-Wish was able to execute this plan was unique. It had never been done before on this scale. The cooperation between the city and the organization as well as the public support really made this a truly outstanding campaign."

10) Nike's "Just Do It" Campaign

In 1988, Nike hired the ad agency W&K to help them come up with a campaign to refresh the Nike brand and image. They came up with one simple line -- a phrase that would someday come to become the essence of the Nike brand.

The "Just Do It" campaign kicked off with a video emphasizing the importance of just going out and doing something, even if you don't want to. Watch the video and you'll get what I mean.

What made this campaign remarkable?

Twenty-five years later, this campaign is still going strong. The slogan is one of the most recognized taglines in the world. It's rare to see a commercial or product from Nike without either their swoosh logo or this slogan. By putting this messaging into everything they do, the company's been able to emphasize the importance of the meaning behind "Just Do It."

When you think of athletes (Nike's target audience) and what motivates them, usually it's the competition and excitement of their sport that comes to mind. "Just Do It" is a simple yet applicable tagline to ignite an athlete's drive to win. The tagline is also representative of the company and their culture. 

By reinventing the campaign in 1988 with this slogan, Nike saw an increase in sales over the next decade -- from $800 million to $9.2 billion -- and turned the Nike band into one of the most easily recognizable worldwide. No small feat.

What other marketing campaigns can you think of that are truly remarkable?

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