Brains Behind the Best & Worst Marketing Campaigns of 2018

by Deanna Sornberger
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What we can learn from these marketing genius’ & marketing mishaps

Companies work hard to differentiate themselves, to make their brands and products more visible than the rest and stand out among the competition. It’s safe to say that because of social media, almost anyone can market themselves or their brand a lot easier than before. Between Facebook and Instagram, we often find ourselves mindlessly scrolling through ads one after another, and when they catch your attention, you know they did something right… or did they? Not all marketing campaigns stand out for their intended reason, possibly creating a negative barrier between the brand and their customer. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 3 Best & Worst Marketing Campaigns of 2018:

Best of 2018:

  1. KFC to ‘FCK’

KFC is a fast food chain that is well known for its Kentucky fried chicken. This past year, it ran into a major crisis in the UK when the joint ran out of chicken. KFC apologized for having to temporarily shut down hundreds of locations with a creative stunt, rearranging their letters to spell “FCK” and saying, “We’re Sorry”.

Why was this crisis response a success? Although this did not make up for their upset and angry customers in the moment, it gave the public a laugh, allowed customers to forgive their mistake, and ultimately maintained their reputation.

2. Nike & Colin Kaepernick – ‘Just Do It’

Nike made the bold decision to create a campaign starring Colin Kaepernick, a controversial American football star who refused to stand during the national anthem to protest police violence against African-Americans. In the ad, Kaepernick tagline says,“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Why was this campaign successful? Nike took all the support and protests for this campaign in stride but came out on top with the outpouring of and women who agreed with the right to protest. In the end, the boycotts are what strengthened Nike’s core message.

3. Lloyds Bank #GetTheInsideOut

 Lloyds Bank opens up and tackles mental health with their campaign on Channel 4. The ad included celebrities like Professor Green, Jeremy Paxman, Rachel Riley and Alex Brooker with hopes to create more open conversations about mental health. The hashtag#GetTheInsideOut is used to encourage anyone dealing with mental health issues to speak out about their experiences.

Why did this work? The campaign encouraged people to think differently and adapt new ways to help make a difference and normalize this conversation for the ones struggling.

Fails of 2018:

1. Amazon selling unhealthy food at Whole Foods

Whole Foods has been known for its high-quality, healthy standards, and products like Coca-Cola do not meet this model. When Amazon decided to allow these products on the shelves,it created tension between them and the Whole Foods Brand.

Why did this fail? Whole Foods was created and built on providing high quality fresh foods and services. When Amazon wanted to allow Coca-Cola to invade the “Body Builder” of the health food markets, it completely lost sight of the overall brand image for Whole Foods and left customers uneasy.

2. BrewDog, the beer for girls

The craft brewery BrewDog released a “beer for girls,” which happened to be a PINK IPA, ultimately created to bring awareness to the gender pay gap in America. Sounded like a good idea, and with a pledge to sell it a fifth cheaper in its bars to “those who identify as women,” it was a clever move. But consumers did not seem to understand this approach being such a sensitive subject. It was meant to be a spin on sarcasm to say, “Enough is enough with stereotypes,” although the stunt went over many consumers heads. One Twitter user said, “If you have to explain the joke then it’s probably not a very good joke.”

Why didn’t this work? Attacking sexism with more sexism does not stop sexism.

3. From IHOP to IHOB

 In June, IHOP attempted to change its name to IHOB to create a push that would highlight its new line of burgers and not just be known for their pancakes. Loyal customers were worried that they wouldn’t be selling pancakes anymore after the announcement. Asa result of not releasing the meaning behind the “B”, social media users flooded IHOP with guesses as to what it could be, ridiculing this decision, all while receiving backlash from burger rivals such as Burger King. Although this campaign was later revealed a stunt and IHOP was not actually going to change their name, it remains a big FLOP in our opinion.

Why this didn’t work: When you have an idea to change your business model, you should either go all in on it or nothing. IHOP, being such a respected household name, along with many other branded businesses, need to remain consistent to maintain their image and reputation.

We can only hope to learn from each other’s mistakes, watching and understanding what to do and what not to do. Here are the takeaways from these campaigns: remember your brand’s core missions and do not lose the brand’s identity. With today’s use of social media, you must be prepared for things to be taken out of context. If something does not read well, ditch it and start fresh. If you respond to a crisis, apologize and be sure to make a long-term change to ensure there is no risk of this in the future. Lastly, go all in on the concept you decide. Consistency is key.

Deanna Sornberger

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