2012: Campaigns of the year

Red Bull, Channel 4 and Adidas are among our pick of the 10 standout campaigns of 2012, from viral video to more traditional TV ad campaigns via the Olympics, Paralympics and space.

Bodyform

Bodyform proved an unexpected hit on YouTube with its online campaign starring a fake CEO responding personally to a Facebook comment.

A rant posted on the brand’s Facebook page by a man claiming to be angry with the brand’s depiction of women and their periods gave the brand an opportunity to have some fun with a category that very rarely gets that chance.

Within the space of a week the brand had seen a post on Facebook gaining traction, tasked its agency to come up with a response and seeded it online. Social media did the rest.

The video went viral and within a few days it had 2.5 million views on YouTube. This has now reached around 3.5 million.

It divided commentators, many believing it was a hoax Facebook comment to start, which many said undermined the entire concept.

The agency behind it - Rubber Republic - stand firm that the circumstances the ad was created in are genuine. But either way the brand achieved more cut through with this spoof ad lampooning its previous advertising than it could have achieved through traditional advertising and marketing methods.

P&G - Thank You Mum

Procter & Gamble’s global ad campaign for the Olympics would have melted even the coldest heart. Its Thank You Mum activity took a simple, if sickly sweet, premise and made it work as a corporate slogan and for its individual brands. Even with its blatant gender bias it managed to speak to every demographic in every nation by identifying a common insight.

SodaStream

Without its global TV ad not even having a chance to air on UK TV, SodaStream’s campaign provided a definite highlight this year. The ad had already aired in other countries as part of an £11m push to re-establish the brand and highlight its eco-credentials but it’s not so much the original ad creative that stood out, but the ballsy response from the brand after it was pulled at the eleventh hour by TV regulator  ClearCast.

Banned for appearing to “denigrate” the rest of the soft drinks industry, SodaStream quickly followed up with a “protest” that saw it run blacked out ad on TV to encourage viewers to go online to watch the banned ad and press ads that were the equivalent of rolling back its sleeves and putting its fists up for a fight.

Adidas - Take the Stage

Adidas’ sponsorship strategy paid dividends this year, with the sportswear business attributing a 24 per cent rise in UK sales to its London 2012 ‘Take the Stage’ campaign. The company claims it accrued the £100m it spent on the campaign in merchandise sales alone and hailed its success in closing the gap on rival Nike.

The focal point of the campaign was a series of TV spots and print ads featuring Team GB stars such as Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray and gymnast Louis Smith, The adverts revolved around the trials and tribulations of working towards Olympic glory, giving the athletes a platform to communicate the pressures of the nation’s expectations.

If there was one area the campaign felt a little flat, it was digital. The brand was prominent on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube throughout the Games, however there was very little in the way of interactivity and actual content being produced.

Beats by Dre

As official Olympic sponsors tripped over each other to show their investment in the Games, headphone brand Beats by Dr Dre circumnavigated them all to pull off the marketing coup of the summer. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) forbids athletes to endorse non-sponsors during the event, however because they were not being paid to endorse the headphones the brand’s marketers managed to avoid breaking Locog rules. High profile athletes including swimmer Michael Phelps and footballer Jack Butland were seen by millions wearing their Beats headgear as they entered the Olympic Arena. The brand paid nothing in sponsorship fees and was one of the most visible brands for several of the most viewed events in the Games. Such was the success of the campaign that John Lewis reported 116 per cent increase in headphone sales during the Games.

Channel 4: Meet the Superhumans

Every once in a while something comes along that is magical. It might be a piece of music. An amazing piece of cinematography. Or simply a line that makes viewers sit forward in their seats and take notice.

Channel 4 managed to amalgamate all three with its Paralympic “Meet the Superhumans” campaign. Its in-house creative agency made an inspired choice in accompanying the ad - which gave the context behind what made Team GB’s Paralympic team so very superhuman - with Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think”.

The dramatic narrative of the ad coupled with the powerful strapline won the nation’s hearts and minds as they were coping with the comedown of the Olympics ending.

Channel 4 claims its superhuman efforts prompted a positive swell in public attitudes to disabilities in the UK. It helped boost its viewing figures to a record Paralympic Games audience of 37 million and no doubt shifted thousands of tickets for the live events themselves.

BT’s students

BT kicked off its students campaign this year after dropping the long-running and much-loved Adam and Jane series.

The three young characters are a world away from the sickeningly loved-up couple - and while a little cheesier and perhaps a little more grating than their predecessors, BT’s gamble on the trio appears to have paid off.

In May BT’s marketing director David James told Marketing Week the student campaign was actually preferred to Mr and Mrs Adam and Jane - matching its highest recall rates to date and attracting more than 7 million views on social media.

Red Bull - Stratos

By sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s 24-mile drop from from the heavens to earth, Red Bull is estimated to have scored the equivalent of £100m in terms of ad spend in what was truly one of a kind.

By aligning its brand to such feats of thrill-seeking, the energy drinks not only remained true to its brand positioning but literally took it out of this world - albeit only to come crashing back to earth.

Not only was the brand’s moniker and logo broadcast around the world in news coverage, during peak viewing hours, the viral sharing element through platforms like YouTube and other social sites surpassed tens of millions of views.

All forms of social and viral video marketing are difficult to judge given that there are few, if any, guarantees but what’s apparent here is that Red Bull has identified the recipe for success on social. Be audacious and true to your brand.

Southern Comfort - Whatever’s Comfortable

This campaign earns its spot among the top campaigns of the year list purely for its seductive technique.

Southern Comfort marked its refreshed marketing activity this year with the launch of this “Whatever’s Comfortable” campaign.

Slow, deliberate and methodical, the 90 second ad slot, with no voiceover and little narrative, doesn’t even feature the product until its closing scenes in a creative execution that disrupts otherwise predictable ad air time.

The suspension of the product placement and overt brand messaging doesn’t adhere to viewer expectations letting the accompanying backing track, folk singer Odetta’s “Hit or Miss”, carry the viewer through.

In the creative, Southern Comfort’s pot-bellied, loincloth-wearing protagonist is clearly “comfortable” with himself as he saunters his way through crowds of ‘beautiful people’ on a sun-soaked beach.

The drinks manufacturer stepped up its marketing drive this year by  reputedly doubling its media spend from 2011 plus this execution also marks its first campaign with new agency Wieden+Kennedy New York.

Clearly, the creatives were given full license to ‘wow’ the new client and the viewing public.

Ikea - Playing with my friends

If you watch commercial television, this execution will need no introduction. Yes, it’s the Ikea ad featuring kids playing with their friends - a teddy bear, a monkey, a robot and a fire-breathing blue monster among others.

This is the latest execution in the creatively fruitful pairing of the retailer and Mother London and continues its theme of setting its ads in the home but with a surreal twist.

Here the backing track “Playing with My friends” by Masters in France and zany on-screen antics combine to infuse Ikea’s brand with excitement and reminds the viewer of the potential positive outcome of a trip to the store.

This is clever positioning whenever you think that a trip to Ikea usually means a trek to a dreary industrial estate on the peripheries of town.

The ad, restricted to UK and Irish audiences, is nearing 1.5m views on YouTube. Whether or not this converts to commercial success remains to be seen but the viewing stats certainly testify to its creative favourability.

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