Marketing Strategy 101

In a crowded market, capturing your customer’s attention can be hard. Here are a few case studies of successful marketing campaigns and why they worked.

Key Takeaways

  1. While there are all these  fantastic opportunities for marketers to extend their reach, we can all agree on one thing: it’s hard to keep up.
  2. Rewind to 2018 and 2019. Here, we saw a much greater emphasis on digital marketing. We’re talking about brands making good use of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, live chat, podcasts, optimizing online content for mobile, offering personalized content.
  3. In 2020, due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, brands suddenly found themselves in a rapidly changing landscape where consumers devoted even more time to online browsing and shopping.

Marketers have faced unprecedented challenges in recent years—and we’re not just talking about the global pandemic. But also the emergence of new trends, social platforms, and technologies. While all these present fantastic opportunities for marketers to extend their reach, we can all agree on one thing: it’s hard to keep up. Not to mention, it's a crowded marketplace, with multiple brands vying to capture the wavering attention of the modern-day consumer.

So, to help you stay on top of the latest marketing strategies, we’re revealing some of our favorite campaigns and dissecting why they worked.

But first:

An Overview

Rewind to 2018 and 2019. Here, we saw a much greater emphasis on digital marketing. We’re talking about brands making good use of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, live chat, podcasts, optimizing online content for mobile, offering personalized content, to name a few!

Now, fast forward to 2020. Due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, brands suddenly found themselves in a rapidly changing landscape where consumers devoted even more time to online browsing and shopping.

While none of the aforementioned tactics of 2018 and 2019 were abandoned, the pressure was on to provide more innovation, fun, engagement, and creativity to surprise and target customers with bolder campaigns.

All that said, let’s check out some examples of brands that have nailed it in recent years—and why.

1. Sephora

Sephora continues to wow and win the hearts of its customers with its online challenges. Back in 2018, it launched the #sephorachallenge, where the brand worked with YouTube star Ryan B Potter asking its substantial followers to participate in the challenge using Instagram reels. Since then, Sephora's launched multiple challenges across an array of digital channels. Examples include the 30-minute make-up challenge, the foundation challenge, and the lipstick challenge. On top of that, the brand quickly shifted its business model to online in March 2020, encouraging eCommerce sales with a robust influencer and micro-influencer marketing strategy. At the time of writing, Sephora has 20.7million Instagram followers and counting. So they're certainly doing something right!

2. Burger King

What better way to tell consumers you’ve switched to artificial preservative-free burgers than by creating a moldy burger ad? That’s precisely what Burger King did in 2020 with their 44-second video and photo campaign. The brand showed just how much mold grew on a whopper over 34 days. This widely talked-about albeit unconventional campaign was eye-catching, hard to ignore, and one that increased chatter about the brand’s new addition to its menu. The underlying message of the campaign was positive—as were its results. The company’s CMO, Fernando Machado, wrote in AdWeek that 8.4 million organic media impressions were obtained. In addition, the Moldy Whopper video was collectively watched for almost 1.4 million minutes on Facebook, with nearly 40% of viewers watching it through to the end.

3. Gillette

January 2020 saw “the best a man can get” brand Gillette wave goodbye to a three-decade-long slogan and instead embrace the #MeToo movement. How? A short film that looked at sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, and bullying, asking its audience, “Is this the best a man can get?” reinforcing the message that men can do the right thing, act a different way and educate each other about better behavior and awareness.While it’s easy for brands to embrace current trends, it’s hard not to be seen as jumping on the back of an important movement to make sales. But, Gillette struck this balance exceptionally well.

The brand succeeded in raising brand awareness, gaining more than 1.5 million social media mentions within a week of the video’s launch. In short, the film is an excellent example of how a brand can tackle and support significant societal issues while positively impacting its product awareness. 
Also, to further demonstrate its commitment to the #MeToo movement, Gillette announced it would distribute $1m a year for the next three years to non-profits running programs to help men achieve their best. 

4. Corona

Let’s face it, any brand with any kind of word association with the pandemic is going to have a steep hill to climb. The Corona brand took it on the chin by launching a fun awareness campaign to try and change the name of the virus to the BudLightVirus. This prompted its competitors to scramble on social media to catch up as #budlightvirus began trending in March 2020. Corona’s tongue-in-cheek offer of $15 million to change the name certainly hit the headlines. More seriously, however, in 2019, it demonstrated its awareness of Gen Z and Millennial's growing environmental concerns with their 'Pay With Plastic' on World Oceans Day 2019. The campaign encouraged people worldwide to pay for beers with plastic waste. The result? 100 locations in 10 countries got behind the campaign. Fast forward to 2021, and Corona announced that the campaign's success continues to make waves. In June 2021, they announced they're the first global beverage brand with a net-zero plastic footprint. In other words, they retrieved more plastic than they release into the world. 

5. HBO

It’s common knowledge that brands offering customers a free trial hope customers will love their product/service so much that they'll become paying customers. So, that's precisely what HBO did in 2020 to successfully raise brand awareness and increase subscribers. As a result, we all spent more time indoors during the pandemic. One consequence was that worldwide streaming subscriptions passed 1.1 billion in 2020. HBO responded by using one of its most popular shows, Big Little Lies starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz, to launch its stream for free. In addition, they adopted the #StayHomeBoxOffice hashtag to spread the word about their free trial offering 500 streaming hours. The result? Its movie streaming went up by 70%. 

Final Thoughts
We know this list isn’t exhaustive, but these campaigns provide a flavor of how you could entice and engage customers using creative campaigns. Consumers today are a savvy bunch. They want and expect to be entertained while receiving important messages—and all of the examples above achieve exactly that.