The best marketing campaigns of 2020: Part 2

From Tesco to Starbucks to Leon, the Marketing Week team chooses the second set of eight campaigns that make up our best marketing of 2020.

Just Eat – Did somebody say Just Eat? feat Snoop Dogg

Rapper, bon viveur and self-confessed foodie Snoop Dogg was reportedly paid £5.3m to appear in the Just Eat ad campaign, but that must look like a good investment for the takeaway giant given its performance in 2020.

UK orders during the third quarter rose 43% to 46.4 million compared to the same period last year, while in the year to date orders from Brits surged by 27% to 123.2 million as Covid-19 restrictions turbocharged the takeaway sector.

Released in May, the Snoop Dogg ad fitted straight into the brand’s wider media mix, helping take its ‘Did somebody say Just Eat?’ concept up a notch with some added star power. The campaign sees the rap veteran take issue with the existing Just Eat jingle, prompting him to create his own version sharing his love of getting “chicken wings to the crib” and ordering “tacos to the chateau”.

The ad, created by McCann London, was postponed by five weeks as the Just Eat marketers got a read on the nation’s mood. The team surveyed 500 consumers to see if they were in the right frame of mind for some light-hearted advertising during the heat of the pandemic. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of a good laugh.

Just Eat’s CMO on her mission to bring light relief to lockdown life

UK marketing director Matt Bushby describes the shift away from the supportive and informative messaging of lockdown to a celebratory, light-hearted campaign as a “step-change” for the brand.

“Put it down on paper and it sounds risky, given the wider context of the pandemic and moves to pull ad spend. Yet we followed the data and listened to what our consumers and our restaurants were doing to gauge when a change in approach felt appropriate,” says Bushby.

The ad was trailed with 15-second digital teasers and included bespoke content across Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and gaming platform Twitch, complementing the TV push and wider sponsorship strategy. On YouTube alone the video has been watched 9.5 million times.

In addition, YouGov BrandIndex ad awareness scores show the sustained impact of the campaign. Just Eat’s ad awareness rose from a score of 29.4 in May to 37.1 by November. The brand also managed to outpace its rivals Deliveroo (27.4 ad awareness score in November) and Uber Eats (18.5).

Bushby believes the tone stood out at a time when people were “hungry for positivity” and credits it with helping Just Eat post “significant year-on-year growth” throughout the second half of 2020. CR

KFC – KFC is back

Tom Fishburne, AKA, The Marketoonist, delivered a fantastic session at this year’s Festival of Marketing on the virtues of using humour in advertising. In it, he talked about humour as a distinctive asset that will elevate your comms to create salience and standout.

This was especially important in 2020, he argued, when a slew of brands fell over themselves to produce ads with earnest voiceovers and mellifluous soundtracks that declared they were on your side in these unprecedented times or something similar.

Fishburne did not refer to KFC in his analysis of excellent use of humour but he should have done. The UK and Ireland team in partnership with Mother created a masterclass in humorous comms entirely in-keeping with the brand’s tone of voice.

‘We’re back’: KFC launches tongue-in-cheek ad as it reopens for delivery

To mark the reopening of 500 restaurants in May, KFC launched a campaign that was distinct, funny and engaging. A video spot used images taken from its #RateMyKFC social media campaign, which encouraged people to make their own versions of its meals and post them on social for the brand to critique – often harshly.

The ad concluded with KFC reassuring consumers that “we’ve missed you too” but insisted it would “take it from here”. It was funny, celebratory and cut through a sea of sameness. It’s a product of a brand at ease with itself, its tone and its audience. RP

Leon – Feed NHS

Leon food delivery NHS George ShelleyAt the onset of lockdown Leon had a plan. Rather than letting its outlets lie dormant due to the restrictions placed on the hospitality sector, the food-to-go chain turned its attention to feeding frontline workers coping with the onslaught of Covid-19.

Leon created a platform enabling members of the public to donate money to fund hot food for NHS workers, forming a coalition of restaurant chains – including Tortilla, Dishoom, HOP and Wasabi – to help serve some of the meals. Within the first four hours of operation the campaign had raised £150,000 and Leon restaurants dedicated four of its restaurants to serving the NHS.

As the nation seemed to come together at the start of lockdown, Leon adapted 11 of its restaurants into mini-supermarkets to cater for local residents living near selected outlets, including key workers in search of food at the end of a long shift. Starting out selling basics such as milk, bread and eggs, the team accelerated the development of Leon’s own stews into pouch meals, an innovation the brand had started trialling with Sainsbury’s.

Next, Leon turned its attention to helping out food growers and producers, with an idea that would connect the supply chain going into restaurants and food operators direct with consumers.

Leon on its new mission – feeding the NHS

The Feed Britain platform allowed consumers, many of whom were shielding and struggling to buy food due to stockpiling, to purchase grocery boxes of fruit, veg, dairy and meals for order online. Any additional income, over and above what was needed to run the site, was donated to the NHS.

For Leon sustainability and values director, Kirsty Saddler, the launch of the Feed NHS platform shows the power of organisations joining forces and putting competitive interests aside. She believes the pandemic has forced brands to look at their actions, not just hide behind purpose statements.

“It’s taken out some of the crap and shortened people’s patience for the ‘deeds not words’ point,” she states.

Leon’s move to build a coalition around the Feed NHS mission caught the public imagination and gave consumers an outlet to support frontline workers during lockdown. The branding was clear and the message immediate.

The food-to-go brand was able to pivot at speed to create a solution that made a tangible difference to NHS workers and showed the power of collaboration, a mentality Leon hopes to take forward into 2021. CR

Lifebuoy – Bish Bash Bosh

Lifebuoy returned to the UK this year, relaunching with a campaign called ‘Bish Bash Bosh’ and a £12m investment that aimed to get the brand back in the minds of consumers.

The campaign, created by MullenLowe Group UK, was based on the insight that as restrictions loosen people can become less inclined to stick to handwashing. To break through noise it created an upbeat animation that uses moments such as catching buses, going to the supermarket and using a chip and pin device to remind people when to wash and sanitise their hands.

Lifebuoy also partnered with schools marketing agency We Are Futures to educate primary school children on the benefits of handwashing as well as distributing free hand hygiene kits to schools. These included learning materials and tools to help teach children about hand hygiene and instil good habits.

It’s been a big year for the brand reinvigorating its purpose for a new group of people. MF

National Centre for Domestic Violence – Abusers always work from home

If supporting frontline workers was one of the key messages emerging at the onset of the pandemic, so was the shocking truth that the lockdown was putting victims of domestic violence at even greater risk.

As UK workers complained about Zoom calls and working out where to set up their computers, abuse rose by 49% under the spring lockdown, just as safe spaces for survivors shut down nationwide.

Developed by Wunderman Thompson UK, the message from the National Centre for Domestic Violence contrasts the novelty of working from home with the stark fact that, for abusers, the home has always been the space where they operate.

An outdoor campaign was supported by a video mimicking the user-generated content of lockdown that portrayed a seemingly happy family living under the shadow of abuse.

While the mum, dad and children get involved in ‘Clap for Carers’, stick pictures of rainbows in their windows and Skype their family, violence lingers like a shadow. The façade breaks down as the father chases the mother upstairs, who locks herself in the bathroom and tries to comfort the children with promises that everything is going to be ok.

Filmed remotely with actors during lockdown and directed by an all-female creative team, the campaign features a voiceover from Vicky McClure, who last year starred as a woman living in a controlling relationship in Channel 4’s I Am Nicola. To help get the message out still further, outdoor media owners JCDecaux and Clear Channel donated free ad space for the out-of-home campaign.

CEO of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, Mark Groves, said support for the campaign had been “amazing”. The organisation flipped the everyday notion of working from home on its head to show that for some people home is not a place of safety, emphasising the message that domestic abuse is socially unacceptable both in and out of lockdown. CR

Starbucks – Every name’s a story

At the beginning of this year Starbucks launched ‘Every name’s a story’, an ad based on the insight that some trans people try out their names in public for the first time at Starbucks.

The campaign, created by agency Iris, builds on the fact that Starbucks asks people for their names when ordering, then calls out that name when the drink is ready. It won Channel 4’s annual diversity in advertising award in 2019.

The brand worked with trans people throughout the process to tell the story of a young trans boy struggling to navigate his way through a world that insists on still referring to him by his deadname, or the name he was given at birth. It is only when he walks into a Starbucks store and hears his name called out that he feels truly seen.

Certain corners of the internet exploded upon its launch. As the world becomes increasingly hostile towards trans people, Starbucks normalised the experience of the community, ensuring that an accurate story was told. For many it was inspiring that a major brand chose to tell a truthful and simple trans story.

The importance of representing trans people in advertising

Trans people are barely represented in media (only 0.3% of adverts feature transgender people according to a study by Channel 4) but in this campaign, there were people both in front and behind the camera.

The brand also put its money where its mouth is by beginning a partnership with Mermaids – a UK charity that supports gender-diverse children, young people and their families – with the advert raising £100,000 for the charity by selling a rainbow cookie in stores.

The partnership also highlighted how the ad has been felt across the community when the charity asked trans people to come forward if they’d had similar experiences to the one in the ad 30 people called in within the first 24 hours. MF

Tesco – Some little helps for safer shopping

Tesco has had a good 2020. Rightly crowned Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year, its customer-first, insight-led approach spearheaded by former CEO Dave Lewis and chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini brought it back from the pits of 2014 and the fallout from the accounting scandal and in good stead to weather the biggest shock to UK plc since the 2008 financial crash – the coronavirus pandemic.

Tesco was widely hailed for its handling of the crisis and the way it communicated with staff and customers. Its March campaign highlighting the measures it had put in place to protect customers and staff was a standout example.

‘Keeping you safe’: Tesco campaign urges shoppers to social distance

The ad, created by BBH, was fronted by Tesco employees and explained the measures it was taking to ensure social distancing. It proved reassuring and highly effective. According to data from Kantar, it boosted short-term sales and the long-term desirability of the brand, scoring the highest mark possible for brand memorability and for creating branded memories among the first tranche of re-assurance campaigns.

‘Some little helps for safer shopping’ was one of several highly effective campaigns from Tesco in 2020.  Its ‘Food Love Stories’ campaign continued to reposition Tesco’s food offering, while its ‘It’s About Bloody Time’ activity to support the launch of its skin tone plaster range was praised for celebrating diversity. RP

Yorkshire Tea – Introducing… The Social Distancing Teapot

If Marketing Week ever had an award for best social post of the year, Yorkshire Tea’s deft response to a spiteful anti-BLM tweet would doubtless have won the 2020 prize hands down. ‘Teagate’ as some called it (though not on here) has come to symbolise brands’ confidence and ability to own a tricky situation rather than try to avoid it completely, as so often used to be the case.

More recently, the ‘Introducing…’ ad captured the nation’s longing for some manifest silliness after a year of trauma and confusion.

It’s a celebration of the mundanities of office life, of meetings (real ones, in actual meeting rooms), desk space, whose turn it is to get the kettle on – the stuff that all of us have missed but know will quickly be entrenched back into the routines of our daily working lives. And, by extension, Yorkshire Tea will be a big part of those little habits and conventions, easing us back to normality.

Last year, it became the best-selling tea brand in the UK and, while it takes some doing to persuade anyone in this country to change their teabag, initial stats would suggest another successful year for the Harrogate brand.

There’s been a decent rise in engagement rates over the past 12 months (up by 10%), with a reach of 1 million, 500,000 video views and a 57% increase in brand mentions.

Now, what would be really great is if they can find a way to start selling versions of that teapot. MB