7 Most Unforgettable Advertising Campaigns Of All Times

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” -Mark Twain

Rightly said, Isn’t it? If done right, marketing and advertising today hold enormous power – enough to make or break your brand. We have compiled some of the best campaigns, and broken them down to help you learn what makes them the best.

But before that, let’s get the basics of an advertising campaign right and master how to design one.

Brand advertising campaigns can be planned either through a company’s marketing department or through an advertising agency. Companies may choose to conduct their advertising campaigns through either.

Furthermore, a marketing plan is a detailed strategy outlining the steps for a company to achieve its marketing goals. It often includes objectives, methods, and tactics.

An advertisement campaign is a set of tactics that are executed to achieve a company’s marketing goals. These campaigns, when successful, can create brand awareness, improve a company’s reputation, increase sales, and improve communication.

Advertising Campaign DesignSource: giphy.com

Let’s think of advertising like a giant puzzle. As each piece is placed, it contributes to the final picture. The puzzle, of course, is made up of many different pieces. For example, one piece might reinforce a brand’s image. Another piece might be an advertisement that evokes feelings of familiarity. Next might be a product placement that runs with a story that ties the product to a character. Still, another piece might be the editorial copy that surrounds the advertisement, or it might be a billboard that reinforces an existing advertising campaign.

Effective advertisement of any product/ service requires a combination of the many different pieces working in harmony. To see that, let’s take a closer look at each piece. First, there’s the brand. The brand is the one thing the audience will remember. If people don’t recognize a particular brand, it doesn’t matter how well another part of the advertising campaign is executed.

Next, there’s the advertising message. Before consumers engage with an advertisement, they’re attracted by the statement. So as long as that message is engaging, relevant, and intriguing, the ad should attract consumers.

Next, there’s the advertising medium. The medium, which can include anything from television to radio to the Internet to magazines to billboards, is the thing that broadcasts the advertising message.

Finally, there’s the advertising campaign. An advertising campaign is a collection of advertisements that work together to achieve a specific objective. For example, an advertising campaign might promote a particular product or help sell a particular clothing brand.

Advertising campaigns are important because they help brands to develop and maintain a strong relationship with consumers.

Want to launch a successful advertising campaign? Here’s how to go for it.

Guide to Launching a Successful Advertising Campaign

Guide to Launching a Successful Advertising Campaign

Let’s take one more example here – Executing an advertising campaign is a bit like taking a shower. You would have to get clean first. You don’t just want clean skin; you want clean hair, clothes, hands, ears, teeth. You wash your head, then your feet, then one hand, one ear, one tooth, one knee, and then you rinse it all off. Then you towel dry and put on clean clothes. Finally, you get dressed, comb your hair, brush your teeth, apply deodorant, and put on some cologne. Quite a detailed picture, isn’t it?

But advertising campaigns are very similar to it. You first have to determine the suitable medium, and then you have to figure out the message. After that, you decide what people need to know and what action you want them to take.

Then you design the strategy of the campaign. Which medium do you use? You need to have a message that people will see, hear, read, or smell. Which media will you use? Do you want to use television, radio, newspapers, billboards, magazines, direct mail, or the Internet? Will the ads be animated, live-action, or a combination of both?

Channels of advertisement

Source: cdn.business2community.com

Then you define the campaign schedule. How long will you run the campaign? If it’s on billboards, will you run them for a month or a year? Then you analyze the results. Which medium worked best? Which message was most effective? Which did people respond to the campaign? Which people didn’t? What were the consequences? (What happened, for example, to sales, to profits, or market share?)

Finally, you repeat or modify your strategy.

Advertising campaigns are most successful when integrated with the overall marketing strategy, or at least with your company’s larger.

objectives of advertisement campaigns

Well, now that we have covered the basics, let’s take a look at the best advertising campaigns of all time.

Most successful Advertising Campaigns of all time

1. Coca-Cola: “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” Advertising Campaign

Coca-Cola launched one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. In 1971, the company launched a new campaign, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” that asked consumers to share a Coke with someone else. The campaign was so successful that it led to new categories of products, such as “personal servings” (small bottles of Coke) and “party packs” (bottles of Coke in individually wrapped cans).

The “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” campaign was so successful that sales increased 23 percent in the first year, 47 percent in the second year, and 30 percent in the third year. By 1976, Coke was the best-selling soft drink, and the “Share a Coke” campaign was credited with helping the company achieve this status.

I’d like to buy the world a Coke” was so successful in part because it fit Coke’s cultural image. In the early 1900s, Coca-Cola wasn’t just a tasty drink; it was a cultural icon.

Coca-Cola was a “cool” drink. It was associated with jazz and blues, car-driving and pool-halls, and flappers. Furthermore, the “Share a Coke” campaign fit this image perfectly. It had nothing to do with selling Coke and everything to do with the idea of “cool.”

The campaign’s purpose was to create a more personal relationship with consumers and inspire shared moments of happiness.

2. Volkswagen – Think Small Advertising Campaign

The Volkswagen ad blitz in the mid-90s was, in many ways, a classic example of a great advertisement campaign. It was remarkable for its creative use of media, its effective use of celebrity, and how it combined appeals to the heart and the head.

What made it a classic was the way it combined these ideas. Volkswagen had, in 1972, redefined itself as fun to drive, a brand of car for people who were young, hip, and ambitious. But the car wasn’t particularly exciting, and it wasn’t particularly cheap.

The Doyle Dane Bernbach agency (DDB) launched the “Think Small” campaign that won Americans over in the ’50s and ’60s. Next, it created a series of ads showing people having fun with Volkswagens, but in a way that wasn’t radically different from conventional ads.

hink Small campaign

Source: hip.agency

Why is this campaign remembered? Because the ad explicitly and successfully combines three elements:

a.) It is funny.

b.) It makes us think.

c.) It tells us something we didn’t know about VW.

Volkswagen - Think Small campaign

Source: hip.agency

Volkswagen spoke in a simple, honest, and humorous manner in a world where big, beautiful and outlandish were promoted. So maybe it’s time to revisit that simplicity.

3. Apple: Get A Mac Advertising Campaign

The first rule of advertising is, of course, that there are no rules.

Computer companies try to convince people that computers are cool. They do this by advertising. But is advertising capable of persuading?

It does seem to be. Both Apple and Microsoft have had radical successes, while companies like IBM, Dell, HP, and Compaq have embarrassed their ads. The stories about Microsoft’s advertising are legendary, but Apple’s are perhaps even more remarkable.

Apple’s ads have three features.

First, they are funny.

Second, they demonstrate something other companies don’t.

Third, they are carefully targeted to a niche audience.

The funny part is first. When Apple started, computers were a giant and clunky thing, and hardly any people had any. So when Apple began advertising in 1984, it ran a series of ads featuring Steve Wozniak, one of the company’s founders, explaining how computers were fun and cool. At first, few were convinced. But over the years, Apple’s ads have won over more and more people.

“With a 42% increase in market share within the first year, the reason it was so successful was the company letting their consumers know the benefits of their product rather than being forceful. The key here was to voice their benefits in a way consumers can relate to.” – Aspedia.net

The cool part follows. Apple’s ads have been successful not just because Apple computers themselves are cool but also because Apple’s ads have convinced people that there are cool ways to use them.

4. Dumb ways to die – Melbourne railways Advertising Campaign

Dumb ways to die campaign

Source: static.wixstatic.com

This is undoubtedly one campaign that will bring a smile across your face. 

Dumb Ways to Die is a rail-safety campaign developed by Melbourne-based creative agency – McCann. The Melbourne Metro trains picked an unusual approach to connect with the audience. With this innovative campaign, the message to not do dumb things around railways tracks has been spread well in a humorous and fun way.

They adopted a fear-based statement to improve rail safety. This music video has animated characters dying in feeble-minded circumstances  – dumb ways. It has already racked up 50M views of YouTube, over 3.2M shares on Facebook, been retweeted over 100,000 times on Twitter, and has become the third most viral ad of all time. The music track was famous, too, charting on iTunes in 28 countries.

Metro Trains claims it has achieved its rail safety aims, too: over 44,000 Melbournians pledged “not to do dumb things around trains” in the four months after the campaign launched. Also, for the November to January period, the operator claimed it had seen a year-on-year reduction in the number of “near-misses,” from 13.29 to 9.17.

5. Nike: Find your greatness Advertising Campaign

Nike: Find your greatness campaign

The world’s greatest athletes have dedicated themselves to being the best in the world at what they do. We all know it’s hard, relentless, and challenging. But we can do it. We can all do it because we all have greatness within us if we only dare to find it.

Each of us has our own story, our passions, our dreams. And through sport, we can all share those passions and goals with the world. Nike believes we can. And together, we will. This is exactly what this advertising campaign is about.

Nike Find Your Greatness – 2012 London Olympics Commercial

Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign stands with some of the best advertising campaigns in history. It is short, simple, and powerful. And it’s based on an insight that is simple but not obvious: that the athletic achievement of the highest level is not what matters. Instead, what matters is the athletic performance, plus the effort, plus the desire to succeed.

In 2009, when Nike began advertising with the slogan, “Find Your Greatness,” it created a direct channel between company and customer. That is, it eliminated the customer’s need to think about _what_ to buy. Instead, it could simply tell the customer what Nike figured he ought to want.

What the ad said was this: “You were born with greatness inside of you. Nike, too, was born with great purpose. Together, Nike and greatness will change the world.”

Rather than making customers buy shoes, Nike was now making customers buy self-esteem.

If you think about it, it’s a brilliant strategy. Nike isn’t selling shoes. It’s the self-esteem of sales. That’s exactly what customers want.

Find Your Greatness proved that if you have a body, you are indeed an athlete.

6. The Invisible Cars Advertising Campaign – Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz launched a compelling advertising campaign for their F-Cell technology. 

The F-cell cars had zero carbon emissions. To put it simply, it was practically invisible to the environment. So to showcase this quality, the brand designed a campaign where the car was invisible, well, almost invisible.

Mercedes-Benz. The Invisible Drive. | Ridgeway Mercedes-Benz

The car was driven through the streets of Germany, and people were astounded at the technology. 

At last, we want to present a classic campaign – A print campaign that is looked up to date.

7. Rolls-Royce “At 60 Miles An Hour” Advertising Campaign

Rolls-Royce “At 60 Miles An Hour” campaign

Source: prnt.sc

Crafted in 1952 by David Ogilvy, this print ad is a classic piece – one of the most famous of all time. The ad is brilliant, and it’s funny. But it’s brilliant and hilarious not because of what it does with words, but because of what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t say, “Rolls-Royce.” Instead, it says, “At 60 Miles An Hour.”

It is an ad about what it is to be rich and the difference between being rich and poor. The story is about the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. It tells us what it means to be rich and how to recognize people who are.

And it has one other thing that makes it special. What makes it unique among advertising is that it is accurate.

People don’t buy Rolls-Royces because a man in a suit says, “Buy a Rolls-Royce,” they buy them because they experience what it feels like to be one.

The ad is beautifully simple. It has four parts:

  1. It tells us what it’s about: “Experience the extraordinary.”
  2. What it delivers: “The ultimate in luxury.”
  3. How it works: “Incomparable performance.”

Well, we could go on and on with our favorite campaigns, but to sum it up, these are the most unforgettable ones. Do you have any campaigns that struck a chord with you? Don’t forget to share it in the comments below.

Before we bid adieu, we want to leave you with this question.

What Makes A Great Advertising Campaign Great?

Great Advertising Campaign

Source: blog.hubspot.com

According to a survey by HubSpot, most advertising campaigns were remembered because they were hilarious or provided some information.

Humour is an excellent tool for advertisement, but it is tricky.

Comedy, like the art of any kind, is about creating beauty out of chaos. Humor takes the things that most people overlook and makes them funny. It is the art of making incredible things seem inevitable. The rules of comedy are the same as the rules of chess. You can tell a joke by saying a line of dialogue that makes a joke out of something that is already funny.

But there is more to it than that. Comedy is less likely to succeed if, like advertising, it relies on shock. The shock will be enjoyable for a short time, but it wears off. That is why we see so much shock advertising now.

Humor is a funny thing about advertising. Unfortunately, people don’t think of advertising as a place where humor is welcome, but it can be highly effective in the proper context.

We hope you find the proper context for your advertising campaigns. Don’t forget to share your favorite advertising campaigns below!

Urmi specializes in writing long-form actionable insights for the SaaS domain. She has been creating content that translates the brand stories and their expertise for 3+ years. Her content empowers businesses to build and engage with communities and develop better visibility. When not scribbling, she explores the new tools and technologies in the industry.

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