What makes a show-stopping ad? Some say it’s je ne sais quoi, but most marketers understand that the secret sauce is knowing how to put insights to work.
Marketing trends and tips are easy to find. We can think of a few (like this one on ad targeting) without even breaking a sweat (or this one on consumer spending trends). We can give you the keys to drive results while consumers are navigating the economic slowdown. And we’re sure you could get a few ideas from a certain AI bot that spits out answers on command – unless you’re in Italy.
But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make creative, must-see marketing campaigns. You know those ads that seem like they’re made with invisible arrows that hit every mark and run circles around the competition? We know a thing or two about what takes your ads from run-of-the-mill to one in a million. And we can show you how to get you there.
The brands that are getting it right have a formula for grabbing consumers’ attention. It may look complicated, but it all starts with knowing your target audience, coming up with a brilliant marketing strategy, and then cranking it up a notch.
Need to kickstart your next brainstorming sesh? Here’s that inspiration you’ve been looking for.
10 of the best marketing campaigns in 2023
- Heinz and Absolut
- Uber Eats
- Humankind and Problem Solver
- DDB New Zealand: Correct the internet
1. Heinz and Absolut
Some collaborations just make sense. At first glance, a pairing may seem a little odd, but when you dig a little deeper, it all makes sense. Like Barbie and Balmain or Crocs and, well…everyone. Others are less obvious matches – like Heinz and Absolut Vodka. Their target audience was there and they took it and ran with it.
These two household names teamed up to launch a limited-edition tomato vodka pasta sauce that was inspired by Gigi Hadid’s viral TikTok recipe.
The brands were able to leverage the power of consumer interest to create a product that was, essentially, already popular.
Not only are 90% of #vodkapasta views on TikTok from 16-24 year-olds in the UK, but TikTok users are 17% more likely than others their age to drink vodka monthly. 58% of UK 16-24 year-olds also say they’re interested in food and drink, with that number rising to 63% for TikTok users.
Heinz and Absolut Vodka were right on the money with this one. It’s like all the stars aligned. With food collaborations on the rise, they’re the poster child for how to connect with existing customers and expand into new markets while capitalizing on social media trends.
When Heineken wanted to connect with gamers, they focused on a place with warm weather, a huge soccer culture, and a thriving gaming community where 87% of the population plays games on some sort of device. We’re talking about Brazil.
In the beer brand’s ad, a group of friends is nailing down their plans to hang out for the evening. The catch? They’re meeting online to play video games. For these gamers, a night out really means a night in front of the screen, immersed in adventure.
Consumers in Brazil are the perfect audience for this campaign. Not only are they 12% more likely to have played a game online in the last month with their real-life friends, but they’re also more likely to drink Heineken than gamers in Mexico, Columbia, and Argentina.
Heineken brings together the best of both worlds by combining the social side of gaming with a little buzz. That’s what we call speaking your audience’s language.
Authenticity is in right now. Just look at Lady Gaga’s no-makeup Oscars performance, de-influencing trends, and Dove’s latest #TurnYourBack campaign. It has one simple message for social media users: step away from the filters.
If you’re on TikTok, you’ve seen the ‘Bold glamour’ filter (whether you realize it or not). It’s another appearance-enhancing social media tool that Dove says perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards, especially for young women. In the ad, women are literally turning their backs on the filter and standing up for natural beauty.
Dove really hits the nail on the head with its target audience. Female Dove users have stronger social values compared to the average female internet user. 50% of female Dove users say they want brands to be authentic, 49% say they want brands to be socially responsible, and 41% say they want brands to make them feel valued.
There’s another reason why this ad was such a success. Female Dove users are also 16% more likely than other female consumers to promote a brand online when they have a personal relationship with it.
Like Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
4. Uber Eats
The holy month of Ramadan is known as a time for fasting, gratitude, and community. Marking the end of every day is Iftar – the fast-breaking evening meal enjoyed by Muslims around sunset. That’s what Uber Eats focused on for its Ramadan campaign.
Uber Eats is killing it with their Ramadan ads 🙌— Making You Content (@makeyoucontent) April 11, 2023
Each billboard features a popular dish within Muslim culture along with a countdown to sunset – if that isn’t incredible out-of-home marketing, we don’t know what is 🤷https://t.co/t7AtxCZFcY#ramadan #ramadan2023 #marketing
They connected with Muslim consumers during this sacred time with a series of billboards showcasing signature Iftar dishes and an invitation to schedule dinner delivery at just the right time.
The best part? The billboards are updated daily to reflect the exact time of sundown – as it shifts by a few minutes each day.
Uber Eats expertly inserts itself into this community’s conversation by letting consumers know it’s on the same page.
This brilliant campaign’s success can be boiled down to a tried-and-true marketing axiom: inclusivity matters.
Need another example of this strategy in action? Take a look at Tesco’s Ramadan billboards.
In this ad for the password-managing app, Ryan Reynolds gives the team a pep talk about protecting their online information, only to find out that they’re already on the ball. His next move? Switch gears and talk about nighttime skincare routines.
It’s a fun campaign that uses the Reynolds/Wrexham hype to bring attention to online privacy at a time when less than 1 in 3 consumers say they change their passwords at least once a month, and less than 1 in 4 say they use a password manager. The numbers aren’t much higher for businesses where 26% of tech decision-makers say improving cybersecurity is a business challenge and 22% say enhancing security is an important growth initiative.
While the numbers may seem low, 1Password is spot on with their campaign. Though consumers are confident now, cybercrime is estimated to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
Maybe Reynolds is onto something after all.
6. Humankind and Problem Solved
Here’s the bad news: keeping up with current events can be a drag. But the good news is that there are brands out there trying to fix that.
USA Today’s editorial franchises Humankind and Problem Solved pump out social media marketing that gets their audience’s attention in a major way. Using vertical video content, these two brands have decided to ditch news coverage for feel-good messages and life hacks.
With news viewership down and the number of people who read news online (74%) and in print (68%) dropping, it makes sense that a blend of entertainment and positivity would go over well with consumers who need a break from the doom and gloom.
Humankind has more TikTok followers than CNN, The Washington Post, Disney, and Nike at 4.2 million after gaining 600,000 followers in 2022. Meanwhile, Problem Solved has 1.2 million followers on the platform after gaining 440,000 last year.
Plus, where people are getting their news from is changing. The number of consumers who use any social media platform to find news is up 9% from 2017 to 53% and news apps are up 70% to 28%.
So, this marketing strategy is right on the money when it comes to channel choice.
A good ad campaign should always aim to raise the bar, but it doesn’t hurt if it raises a couple of eyebrows as well.
Reese’s Easter ad is a part of their ‘Anything but Ordinary’ campaign and definitely lives up to the title. It’s irreverent, comedic, and short enough to keep your attention until the last second. The gimmick is really quite simple – you want to pour peanut butter into a chocolate egg, don’t you? If you didn’t before, now you do.
See for yourself:
This ad works well because of its layers. Yes, it’s funny, but suddenly a simple Reese’s peanut butter egg seems rich and decadent – almost like a luxury.
With people facing different levels of economic uncertainty, indulging in life’s little treats is just one way to cope with tighter budgets.
Whether it’s lipstick or chocolate, consumers are willing to make some exceptions for mini amenities that brighten up their day.
Great, now we want to put peanut butter in everything, too.
Serving your campaign on a silver platter makes it easier for consumers to digest. Other times, spoon-feeding is ideal. Take it from Kraft and their latest ad showcasing their limited-edition product.
When the brand (known as KD in Canada) discovered that 13 million Canadians eat their macaroni and cheese with a spoon, they did a 180 from their usual fork-filled ads to connect with the 43% of consumers who prefer to scoop.
36% of Canadians say that the most effective way to sell a product is through ads that change content based on specific consumer behavior. So, KD’s ad was successful because it spoke to what works with consumers in that region.
The macaroni brand nailed it by adapting its marketing strategy, proving it’s not cheesy to give your customers exactly what they want.
Buying a home can be such a headache, but this French real estate brand’s digital marketing campaign promises to help – even if it can’t do anything about your zany neighbors.
SeLoger released a series of ads that depict weird neighbor antics caught by, who we can presume is, the only sane neighbor and voice of reason on the whole block.
Even though price is the biggest concern for French consumers that are very or extremely interested in purchasing property (63%), it never hurts to bring humor to what can be a stressful situation. This audience is 14% more likely to say they want brands to be trendy or cool, but they also care about property features (39%) and the size of the property (35%).
10. DDB New Zealand: Correct the internet
If you’ve been wondering whether we’re any closer to gender equality in women’s sports, you’re not alone. It’s a question our trends team has explored and something DDB New Zealand is addressing in its new ‘Correct the internet’ campaign.
This agency’s 60-second commercial highlights gender-biased search engine results with finesse. It’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about providing solutions.
In the ad, an internet-powered stadium fails to correctly answer which international soccer player has scored the most goals. It says it’s Cristiano Ronaldo who has 118 goals when it’s really Christine Sinclair at 190 goals. This bias is what DDB New Zealand wants consumers’ help to fix.
Luckily, they’ve found the right audience. Female internet users in New Zealand who play/watch sports want brands to be reliable (74%) and authentic (59%). Women hold much stronger views than their male counterparts, but men also value reliability (63%) and authenticity (45%).
DDB New Zealand’s mission seems genuine. They want to put female athletes on center stage so their accomplishments can shine and consumers can discover the stars behind the stats.