Top brand campaigns that you need to know

A beautifully created and well-executed campaign is a joy! There’s just something about a piece of creativity cutting through the zeitgeist and hitting home with the public that’s just so satisfying. 

Having a campaign land this way is something that we all strive to achieve and here we’ve pulled out some of the best from over the years.  

We’ve got five completely different stories, each with its own incredible creative merit. But perhaps most importantly, showcase the importance of clear long-term strategy, being bold in your creative choices, the art of bouncing back or adopting new and revolutionary methods for their time.  

Burger King: reacting to trends in a bold way 

For those unfamiliar with Burger King’s ‘Mouldy Whopper’ it caused quite a stir in 2020. The 34 day-long campaign was centred entirely around one Whopper, gradually decomposing.  

But why? 

Well… at the time there was a viral piece doing the rounds, all around the ‘hacks’ fast-food brands utilised in their creativity.  Things like replacing ice using watered down soy sauce instead of coffee, using cosmetic sponges to make tacos appear fuller, making ice cream out of mashed potato. 

So, they took stock of the social landscape, reacting to a trend with a bold and fairly unique approach.  

To lean into the discomfort factor, did split the audience right down the middle. Many lauded the idea and railed against the idea of artificiality within the fast-food sector. The others simply did not like to see the idea of a piece of food slowly rotting with each passing day. 

But this wasn’t a campaign made to sell more burgers…   

Patagonia: placing sustainability at the forefront of marketing  

Patagonia’s don’t buy this jacket campaign was another lesson in a brand using creative campaigns to drive home its core principles.  

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard was a man ahead of his time. Very early on, he openly recognised that the products he made were done so using processes that are damaging to the environment. Yvon’s was an early adopter of an anti-fast fashion movement, which he took to the next level in 2011. 

Patagonia made a bold move to run a full-page advert in the Black Friday issue of the New York Times, with the somewhat bold strapline… DO NOT BUY THIS JACKET. Underneath an image of said jacket, was a list of environmental reasons such as the 36 gallons of water required to produce the jacket, as well as the amount of CO2 emitted during its production.  

For Yvon, sustainability has been the core driver of everything Patagonia represents and its campaigns such as this are prime examples of his, and the brand’s disruptive nature.  

Apple: bouncing back in a major way  

It’s hard to think of Apple as a brand in difficulty, but in 1997 this was very much the case. For those unaware of the timeline of Apple, the business first went public in the mid-80s and those of a certain age will remember the iconic advert directed by Ridley Scott, which was huge.   

But in 1985, a 30-year-old Steve Jobs was removed from the Apple Board.  While Jobs went on to create what became Pixar Studios and the NeXT Workstation, which became Tim Berners-Lee’s first-ever worldwide web server, Apple didn’t fare so well. 

In 1996, Jobs returned to Apple in an advisory capacity then became CEO the following year. It was in 1997 that the Think Different campaign was launched. 

Purposeful grammatical discrepancies aside, the campaign was an instant hit. Iconic and beautiful, it set the tone for what Apple would become, featuring cultural and sociological icons like Ghandi, Einstein, Muhammed Ali, Picasso, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Lennon. All labelled crazy in their lifetimes but whose work changed the world. 

With Jobs back at the helm, this one campaign transformed not only Apple’s financial standing, but the brand waning public perception erupted in a groundswell of positivity.  

Gymshark: focused long term strategy paying dividends  

It’s hard to single out just one element or campaign from Gymshark because the truth is this brand is a perfect modern-day example of how to nail a marketing strategy. 

Gymshark is more a lesson in how a vision can be aligned with marketing strategy, deep consumer understanding, an affordable product and a decade of hard work. The result is a billion-dollar company in a little over ten years, with some of the fiercest brand loyalty you’ll see anywhere. 

Gymshark hit the proverbial jackpot in its ability to place itself so perfectly within the leisure and fitness lifestyle market. They combined hugely effective cross-platform social media, with content that truly spoke to their target audience, ground-breaking influencer partnerships and strategic relations with celebrities and trainers, to create more than just a leisurewear brand.    

The Blair Witch Project: Perhaps the greatest viral marketing campaign ever!  

This is a strange one but say with us… because it truly is one of the single most revolutionary marketing campaigns EVER! What this is, is a masterstroke in how to utilise new media formats to your advantage to create an incredible buzz. 

If you either don’t know or don’t remember. The Blair Witch Project was made for just $300,000 and upon release became a global phenomenon, grossing $248 million worldwide… and it was all down to a unique marketing approach.  

What made it unique?  

Well, back in 1999 the world was a very different place from what it is today. The marketing team for the movie took advantage of something called a ‘website’ to lay the groundwork for the true story/found footage angle of the film. 

This was ground-breaking, no studio had ever done this before. Add to the mix all the viral out-of-home activity they did including missing persons posters on college campuses with links to the site and infiltrating internet forums with the legacy of the Blair Witch Story, and you have a marketing campaign that’ at least 10 or 15 years ahead of its time.  

The lasting impact of what was done here is still found. Studios quickly realised the power of their marketing spent, particularly when it comes to online promotion.  

Now while a campaign like this, which blurs the lines of fiction and reality, would almost be impossible today. This does serve as a lesson in how it can pay to be bold when it comes to the early adoption of new technologies and mediums.