2016 year in review: The best campaigns (part II)

Marketing Week rounds up some of the best marketing campaigns of 2016 – from the most effective and most notable to those that took a forward-thinking approach to digital and new technology.

Pret A Manger: Little Veggie Shop

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A lot of brands claim to listen to their customers but very few integrate these learnings in any concrete way. Pret A Manger, however, was keen to buck this trend. Following the results of an online poll asking the public whether it would back vegan stores, Pret turned one of its prominent central London cafés into the new Little Veggie Pop-Up concept back in April.

“A lot of brands say vote for a change, when they’ve already made up their mind. It is just lazy. If customers are good enough to give you their time, you need to listen,” said Pret’s former global marketing director Mark Palmer at the time.

Palmer admitted he expected sales to drop by 30% when it became veggie, but they actually grew. And following such strong sales, what was mean to be a summer pop-up was turned into a permanent site. 

Pret will continue to crowdsource ideas through blogs as it makes “good business sense” and has also hinted that the veggie restaurant idea could expand across the UK.

In 2016, Pret also beat Deliveroo, Facebook, Lidl and Snapchat to win ‘Brand of the Year’ at the Masters of Marketing awards. And if it continues to listen to customers and innovate, there’s no reason why more awards won’t follow.

Mars: Look on the light side

Channel 4 was on a mission this year to showcase the Paralympics to as many different people as possible and change the stigma that surrounds disability.

To get brands involved, it launched its Superhumans Wanted competition, offering £1m worth of commercial airtime, as well as a coveted slot during the Paralympics opening ceremony in Rio, to the brand or agency that submitted the strongest campaign idea. Every ad had to prominently feature disabled talent and issues.

The winner of the competition was Mars, which fought off 90 competitors. It subsequently launched three ads with disability and diversity at their heart. The ads, which were created by Mars Chocolate and AMV BBDO, were very different from what Mars had previously created but still fitted in with its humorous ‘Look on the light side’ series.

Each ad was inspired by real-life stories from disabled people, and aimed to celebrate awkward situations from embarrassing moments with new boyfriends to behaving badly at a wedding. Through the ads, Maltesers hoped to prove that humour can be a powerful force for positive change in overcoming taboos and breaking down barriers surrounding disability.

According to Mars Chocolate UK’s vice-president of marketing Michele Oliver, the company previously “did not fully represent the diversity of the consumers who buy and enjoy its brands”.

The hope is that this campaign can be a catalyst for better representation in advertising and show marketers that by talking to a wider range of consumers they can also increase sales.

“In terms of why we hadn’t featured disability in our ads before, the honest answer is that we had not sufficiently thought about it,” admitted Oliver. “There was an unconscious acceptance [of the status quo]. This is not just true of Mars but the rest of the industry. We now want to take some steps forward.”

Ted Baker: Mission Impeccable

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In September, Ted Baker launched a three-minute short film online to promote its Autumn/Winter range. The twist? Everything was fully shoppable at just a click.

Taking cinematic inspiration from the likes of James Bond, the film, which had Guy Ritchie as its executive producer, saw the leader of the appropriately titled spy agency T.E.D deploying fashionably dressed agents to prevent a global couture catastrophe.

While there’s been shoppable videos in the past, Ted Baker’s effort was surprising in both its cinematic scope and simple functionality. Most importantly it was a hit with viewers, generating 6.27 million views on YouTube plus an additional 250,000 views across Ted Baker’s Facebook and Instagram pages, plus partners Nordstrom.com and Selfridges.com.

According to Ted Baker’s global brand director Craig Smith, the shoppable film will be the first of many after “resulting in really good traction and sales. We’re in an age where consumers are almost disappointed if an ad doesn’t have some form of extra interactivity. People want to be able to shop directly from whatever it is they are hooked into.”

His boss, Ted Baker’ CEO Ray Kelvin, was even more colourful in his description of the shoppable video. He told Marketing Week: “I have wanted to do a shoppable film for the past 10 years, but it has just been about waiting for the technology to catch up. Now we have done it, watch all the rest of those fuckers run and copy.”

Watch out for the stampede.

Adidas: #PogBack

While Paul Pogba’s £89m move to Manchester United hasn’t yet inspired his team (United are currently 11 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea), it did inspire Adidas to produce one of the best viral campaigns of the year by effectively unveiling the transfer via a music video.

The move was meticulously planned by United, from online videos of Pogba arriving in the UK by private jet and touring the club’s training complex, to specially designed branding and photography of the player. The hashtags #POGBACK and #ReUnited also signified the return of Pogba to a club that had sold him back in 2012. The highlight, however, was a viral music video by kit sponsor Adidas.

It featured Pogba dancing to a track – which painted the French international footballer as some sort of dabbing superhero – by British grime rapper Stormzy. The video cutting the two together to look like they were having the time of their lives.

According to Adidas’ director of sports performance Ben Goldhagen, the music video represents a permanent shift. He says high-profile football transfers now present a profitable opportunity for sponsors to align players with social media influencers.

Goldhagen explains: “This is definitely indicative of how we would like to activate these transfer moments moving forward – combining the best of our social influencer audience with our players in content that is edited in such a way [as] to showcase them side by side in the eyes of the audience.”

In the four days following Pogba’s move there were 153,000 social media mentions of the transfer, according to Brandwatch. This compared to just 38,000 mentions of Manchester City’s big budget move for Everton defender John Stones.

Don’t be surprised if Manchester City give Stormzy a call ahead of the January transfer window.

Malibu: Because summer

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Malibu brought the the internet of things to FMCG this year as the company tapped into “contactless payment behaviour” for its summer campaign #BecauseSummer.

It was a first for the innovative beverage brand and for the sector, as the company created 45,000 connected bottles that allowed iPhone and Android users to access exclusive content, including prize draws, drinks recipes, playlists and a bar locator.

Users did not have to download or open an app to connect with the brand, they just had to tap the ‘sunset’ logo on the Malibu bottle.

The move followed work undertaken at The Absolut Company’s innovation lab in Stockholm, which, like Malibu, is owned by Pernod Ricard. It was introduced after research by Malibu found consumers are increasingly looking to buy “experience and not products”.

“This is not a PR stunt. Success isn’t necessarily about the numbers, it’s very much about gaining exclusive insight on how consumers react to new tech and exploring the boundaries of where technology can go,” says Jo Alexander, Malibu marketing manager, Pernod Ricard UK.

Following the success of this year’s campaign, Malibu is set to roll out Coco-nect cups commercially in summer 2017  allowing concert and festival goers to order and pay for drinks without having to queue at the bar. The aim of the venture is to “banish British queuing tradition”, by sending signals to bar staff every time a fresh drink is required.

L’Oréal: The Beauty Squad

Brands are under increasing pressure to find more inventive ways to reach their target audience. And with younger generations moving from TV to online, the use of influencers, who boast huge followings on social media, seem to be a popular option among brands.

But L’Oréal believes its competitors are not approaching it in the right way. And so in September it announced it was signing up five British beauty bloggers to create content on an ongoing basis. Through this, it is hoping to “craft a different type of relationship” when it comes to working with influencers.

The beauty giant’s UK general manager Adrien Koskas told Marketing Week at the time that it was not interested in a “one post one cheque” type of relationship; instead, it wants to form long-term partnerships.

“Consumers will walk away from influencers that have been bought by brands, where there is no story behind it or are doing just one-offs. It depends on us being the biggest beauty brand in the UK to craft a different kind of relationship. When it comes to influencers, we want to shift the industry towards something that is more genuine,” he said.

“I know they will continue to talk about other brands too, or sometimes be more critical. So I’m pretty confident and this is an open discussion with them – they keep their freedom and editorial point-of-view,” he said.

The beauty company also featured the first ever male influencer in one of its campaigns in August. Blogger and makeup artist Gary, aka ‘The Plastic Boy’, has been chosen to reflect the fact that more men are wearing makeup.

Cif & AEG: Before & After Project

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While a dirty roof probably doesn’t sound like the best idea for a clever experiential campaign, it proved to be just that for the O2 Arena. Realising the North Greenwich venue hadn’t cleaned its roof since 2007, AEG, which works on the O2’s sponsorship deals, approached Unilever’s cleaning brand CIF.

And over a 12-week period, CIF hired cleaners to thoroughly wash the roof, with daily social media videos updating their progress and signage around the O2 promoting the campaign with the slogan: “While you raise the roof, we are cleaning it”.

Gemma Cleland, Unilever’s executive director of homecare, says the campaign exposed CIF to a new type of customer and that the FMCG giant will now bring more of its brands to life at the venue.

“We’ve already had one million views of The O2 clean on our social channels and it is broadening our audience. Being there can expose you to a completely different demographic,” she said speaking at the time.

And for The O2 Arena itself, the campaign helped to generate income and brand salience from the most unlikeliest of locations; a filthy roof. “The O2 arena isn’t just about coming to see Adele but about unconventional marketing too. Moving forward, this will be a big part of our sponsorship strategy and we’ll try to use all our space effectively,” says Nathan Kosky, VP of global partnerships at AEG.

We just hope he doesn’t mean the toilets.

UKTV: Love your thing

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2016 was the year artificial intelligence finally made it into the marketing mainstream, mostly through the use of chatbots on Facebook Messenger. And UKTV came up with a clever way of using them.

The first campaign for its on-demand TV service UK Play used the chatbots to serve up personalised show recommendations in a bid to position the brand as a “disruptive” entertainment service. So if someone said they wanted to laugh UK Play could suggest Big Bang Theory, or if they wanted entertaining it could suggest The X Factor (if that’s your thing).

Zoe Clapp, UKTV’s chief marketing and communications officer, says: “Being presented with thousands of shows on an on-demand service can be time consuming at a moment when you just want to relax and be entertained. The idea behind the Facebook Messenger chatbot is to create an accessible and guiding expert for viewers looking for something great to watch.”

READ MORE: How chat bots are being used to help refugees

UKTV wasn’t the only brand to come up with a novel way to make use of chatbots. Domino’s launched a bot, called @DOMThePizzBot, that allows customers to place an order simply by typing ‘pizza’ into Facebook Messenger. Created by We Are Social and TalkBe, it would then offer people a range of different toppings, bases and sizes.

Expect more chatbots to appear in advertising campaigns next year as brands push the envelope on what is considered helpful and just plain creepy.

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