"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” - Oscar Wilde.
It’s October; we’re three-quarters of the way through the year, so we thought it would be a great time to take stock of the advertising campaigns that we’ve seen this year.
Let’s talk about (in no particular order) 10 campaigns that, well, got everybody talking.
#1: Team Canada: “Be Olympic”
Team Canada’s campaign for the 2018 Olympics was, “Be Olympic.” The Sid Lee-created campaign features stark, highly artistic imagery that tells engaging stories about Team Canada’s athletes’ experiences of success and adversity, while staying away from a typical focus on training montages. The campaign weaves together individual athletes’ stories into a larger story about the entire community.
The Canadian Olympic Committee and Sid Lee interviewed countless Team Canada athletes, staff, sports federations, and fans across the country while generating ideas for the campaign. They found that the athletes wanted to have an impact beyond their particular sport. That Canada has emerged as a leader in the current uneasy climate also influenced the campaign, which the COC plans to continue to use. In addition to the short films created for the campaign, more videos, print ads, and social media content has allowed for the campaign’s continual growth.
#2: President’s Choice: “Eat Together”
The grocery brand that expanded into household goods and financial services launched its “Eat Together” campaign in 2017, with an inaugural Eat Together Day held in June. The campaign, created by St. John Advertising, was celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Its first ad aimed to get families to forego their internet connections and spend mealtimes together, highlighting the strong connection between people and food, and the belief that sharing a meal nourishes us beyond the meal that we are consuming, but also by strengthening our bonds with family.
The 2018 spot likewise encourages people to connect with each other over meals, but focuses on building relationships with coworkers. The 90-second film was shown in theaters across Canada late last year, a prelude to events scheduled in 2018, including a second Eat Together Day on June 22.
#3 IHOP: IHOb
This is a campaign that had everybody talking in June of 2018. Though IHOP is known for its pancakes (as its original name, International House of Pancakes, makes clear) it serves lunch and dinner foods around the clock, and wanted to promote a new burger to entice more customers to visit. Working with new Agency of Record, Droga5, the summer campaign saw a “name change” to “IHOb” (International House of Burgers). If you happened to be in Antarctica without an IHOP or an internet connection, this went beyond a single commercial. A June 4th tweet announced the change to “IHOb,” leaving people to speculate about the meaning of the “b.” Online mentions of IHOP soared 6,477% just one day after the tweet. This was followed the next week by an official “rebranding” to “IHOb.”
The company stated, “We take our burgers as seriously as our pancakes,” but many people were left scratching their heads and upset by the change. This was not the chain’s first attempt to promote non-breakfast foods, though it certainly generated more chatter. The hashtags #IHOP and #IHOB collectively accumulated more than 297 million impressions in the week following the June 4 tweet, and more than 20,000 news stories were written about the change. A July 9 tweet confirmed the switch back to “IHOP.” (Phew!)
#4: Domino’s: “Paving for Pizza”
This may be a one instance of a food company contributing to local infrastructure projects. In a Domino's commercial for the CB+B-designed campaign, a man’s just-purchased take-out pizza falls off the passenger seat of his car when he drives over a pothole on the way home. A Domino’s “paving for pizza” road crew shows up and gets to work, fixing the pothole. This goes a step beyond the chan’s promise, “If damage occurs to your carryout order after you leave the store, just bring it back and we’ll remake it for free,” with Domino’s working with roadcrews to pave pothole-filled roads.
The first cities to receive and accept the assistance were Burbank, California; Milford, Delaware; Bartonville, Texas; and Athens, Georgia. A June press release announcing the campaign invites people to nominate via a dedicated website their town as the next to be paved. Domino's has committed to paving projects in all 50 states.
#5: Adidas: Boston Marathon “Here to Create Legend”
Forget one video of the Boston Marathon. How about 30,000? To celebrate its 30-year partnership with the Boston Athletic Association, Adidas created individual personalized videos for each runner in the Boston Marathon, which the runners received hours after completing the race. Each runner’s bib had a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip attached; street mats sent radio signals, and a 20-person camera crew recorded footage of each runner at the 15K marker and at the finish line.
Adidas worked with digital agency Grow on the campaign. The agency used used Idomoo’s Personalized Video as a Service (PVaaS) platform, which is capable of rendering videos at 10x real-time speed. The work paid off. 57% of all runners who finished the race viewed their video, and more than 25% of these runners shared their videos on Facebook. 95% of the people who started watching the videos on social media watched them in their entirety, and more than 80,000 people visited Adidas’ website as a result of the campaign.
#6: LinkedIn: “In It Together”
LinkedIn’s campaign shifted from a focus on its capabilities to its users, asking the question, “What are you in it for?” Members of the LinkedIn community sent answers about why they have chosen to pursue their professional goals, and LinkedIn created an ad that aired during the Golden Globes. The ad featured members in a variety of professions beyond the expected white-collar workers, including those working for nonprofits, in culinary arts, martial arts, ranching and other self-employed creative folks.
The Savy Agency-designed campaign targeted audiences in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, alerting members in those areas who may be employed in similar creative professions that LinkedIn can be an asset to their own work. The integrated campaign was featured both online and offline, including on digital platforms, in paid social media posts, video, and outdoor ads, on radio, podcasts, and SEM.
#7: Amazon: Triple Tie-in with Jeep and Jurassic Park
No matter how many packages you’ve gotten from Amazon, we can guarantee that you’ve never gotten its biggest. That was delivered this summer, as part of a campaign to promote the movie Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, which premiered on June 22. The 40-foot long box, sent to the Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles on May 30, featured (fake) air holes, the “Jurassic World” logo, and was addressed to characters Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).
The ad campaign was also interactive: A scannable SmileCode on the box unlocked content surrounding the film, and the hashtag, “#AmazonFindsAWay,” which sent intrigued individuals to social media to figure out what was inside the box. For the impatient, they could tell their Alexa-powered devices, “Alexa, ask Jurassic Park what's in the box,” and were greeted with clues and dinosaur sounds. The campaign was also a tie-in with Jeep, as the 18-wheeler delivering the oversized carton was led by a police escort and a fleet of black Jeep SUVs. The marketing stunt took over a year to plan. Spoiler Alert! Alas, a new Jeep Rubicon, and not a T-rex, was in the box.
#8: Arby’s: Arby’s is now selling Coke
If you’re going to let your patrons know that you’ve switched drink manufacturers, why not break a Guinness World record (or two!) while you’re at it? Arby’s decided to do just that when the company alerted people that it began to offer Coke products. Agency Moxie created both the world’s largest and smallest ads. The company laid out an ad declaring, “Arby’s now has Coke,” over 212,000 square feet of farmland in Nebraska. The farm is in the town of Monowi, which is the smallest town in the United States and has a population of 1, Elsie Eiler, who serves as the town’s mayor, bartender and librarian.
The chain worked with Georgia Tech's Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology to etch a message into a sesame seed from an Arby’s bun using an ion beam: “A big announcement is coming. This isn't it.” A teaser for the larger ad, the message measured 735.36 square micron, and was displayed inside an Arby's in New York City, the largest city in the United States. Patrons could view the ad using a Scanning Electron Microscope provided by Hitachi-HTA. Your move, Bob Evans.
#9: Nike: 30th Anniversary ad featuring Colin Kaepernick
If you have a television or access to social media, you’ve seen Nike’s 30th anniversary ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. The Wieden and Kennedy ad features former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and social justice activist Colin Kaepernick’s face; centered over it is the text, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The ad has generated both praise and condemnation since its release in early September.
All of that buzz--even the negative--has netted Nike $163.5 million, according to Apex Marketing. Nike took a calculated risk in creating the ad, though the company is courting actively a younger demographic that Nike feels is more likely to embrace both the campaign and the company. Kaepernick is going to be featured in ads on billboards, in TV commercials and online. A clothing line is planned. The former quarterback isn’t the only athlete to be featured in the anniversary campaign, however. Tennis champ Serena Williams and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are also taking part in the campaign.
#10: SickKids Foundation: “Sick Kids VS: Nothing”
The SickKids Foundation’s newest ad is centered on Mother’s Day, and features mothers eschewing gifts typically associated with the holiday, including chocolates, spa days, jewelry, flowers, and meals out. The ad goes on to explain, via voice-overs from the mothers, and video of them with their children who are hospitalized at SickKids, that what they want, instead, of course, is for their children to get better.
The ad, featuring 5 real mothers whose children are hospitalized was designed by Cossette. It launched April 20 of this year, is the latest in its “VS” campaign, part of SickKids’ effort to raise $1.3 billion to build a new hospital. Last year’s campaign lead to a 695% increase in online donations. This is the second year that ads have focused on parents. An ad highlighting fathers, “DadStrong” was released to coincide with Father’s Day in June.
People still watch commercials, whether they are on TV or online, and both the unexpected and the familiar get people talking. Several of these campaigns showcased individual stories in service of larger narratives about different kinds of communities—whether those that span across continents or ones that cross finish lines. We might celebrate our national athletes’ successes or be confused by a temporary rebranding, but the odds are good that we’re not going to forget such campaigns anytime soon.