The best marketing campaigns of 2022: Part 2

From Pret to Starling Bank to Virgin Group, the Marketing Week team reveals the second set of eight campaigns that make up our best of 2022.

On the Beach – ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’

Hearing a Christmas song in January for many is unconventional – and for some jarring and a little confusing – but in a sea of sameness it was exactly what On the Beach needed to cut through.

The ad, which ran throughout the first five months of the year, showed a family swapping the gloom of the UK for a sunny poolside location, all set to the classic Christmas song The Most Wonderful Time of Year.

It was the product of months of consumer research and market analysis, all designed to help reposition On the Beach as the go-to destination for ‘pleasure seekers’ through the offer of free airport lounge access and fast-track security.

As well as running across TV, broadcaster video-on-demand and radio, the brand sponsored Alan Carr’s Life’s A Beach podcast, all of which helped it reach 85% of adults.

While the initial response on social media was less than favourable – “I wish that On the Beach advert would fuck off somewhere far away and take that fucking song with it” was one response – the ad has been incredibly effective.

On the Beach’s CMO Zoe Harris says the campaign was developed to help the brand “punch above its financial weight” versus its competitors TUI and Jet2 – and that it did.

As well as ranking a “clear number one” on ‘enthusiasm for beach holidays’, the brand achieved a 56% boost to spontaneous awareness and an 11% rise in consideration, as well as an 115% uplift in ad awareness. Meanwhile, it’s share of branded search reached parity with Jet2 and 75% of its target audience said the ad made them more likely to visit the On the Beach website. To top it off, the brand took home the prize for Travel, Tourism and Hospitality at the Marketing Week Awards. LT

Pret A Manger – Pret coffee subscription price rise communication

Clear, simple, reasonable. These three words sum up why Pret’s communication around the price of its coffee subscription going up has been so well received. Customers are never going to be thrilled about having to pay more, but by laying out the facts and explaining why it was necessary – well ahead of the change coming into play – Pret was able to keep hold of existing customers as well as drive uptake among new recruits.

It all started with an email to subscribers informing them the monthly fee was set to increase from £20 to £25. The email clearly laid out the price rise using the actual cost rather than a percentage increase. It then went on to explain why this decision had been taken and what the additional £5 per month would cover – including inflation, staff wages and VAT – before underlining the value of the offer and why it remains a good deal.

This was sent to customers six weeks ahead of the change giving people ample warning and clarity over what was happening. With so many brands being forced to hike up prices in recent months, it has been highlighted by Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson as the gold standard when it comes to communicating price rises.

Rather than denting consumers’ enthusiasm it seems to have spurred more to take up the deal, which even at the higher rate of £25 a month still offers value given subscribers are eligible to up to five barista drinks a day. But it makes sense for the chain, because people buy food and snack when picking up their coffee, with subscribers typically spending four times as much at Pret than those without a subscription.

The coffee subscription is now used 1.2 million times a week in the UK, up from 667,000 in 2021. Meanwhile, in areas of high shop density across Central London, Pret claims to have increased market share since introducing the coffee subscription, despite having to close a number of shops in the area as a result of the pandemic. Compared to 2019, Pret says its market share has grown by single digits, both in terms of transactions and revenue. LT 

The best marketing campaigns of 2022: Part 1

Sage – ‘Helping business flow’

In April this year, B2B financial software firm Sage underwent a major brand refresh and introduced its first ever purpose statement: ‘To knock down barriers so everyone can thrive’.

Shortly afterwards the brand brought its new purpose to life in ‘Helping business flow’, an above-the-line, brand-building ad campaign which ran across TV, outdoors, digital and social in multiple markets.

When compared to B2C brands, it’s still relatively rare to see B2B businesses investing in mass reach channels and creative storytelling – but according to Sage CMO Cath Keers, B2B marketers “underestimate” the power brand has in driving the decision making of businesses. Decisions are actually highly personal and “very emotional”, she said.

As such, the Helping business flow campaign features real Sage customers telling their own stories as small business owners, and explaining how Sage software has helped them to overcome their challenges. In one of two 30-second hero films, created by VCCP London, Sage customer and CEO of Equestrian Rose Ltd, Laura Rose, reflects on the excitement she felt when she received her first customer order.

Elsewhere in the campaign is a story from a customer in South Africa about the “payroll sweats”, or the fear of something going wrong when it comes to paying employees’ wages.

Thus far the campaign has helped Sage along the path to considerable growth. Indeed, last month CEO Steve Hare credited increased investment in brand and marketing over the last 12 months with driving stronger customer acquisition and boosting its recurring revenues. Approximately £180m of annual recurring revenue came via new customer acquisition this year, up from £140m last year.

The business reported recurring revenue growth of 9% over the year to £1.92bn, while organic operating profits are up 8% to £383m. Sage’s organic operating margin increased to 19.9%. MJ

Scottish Water-‘Nature Calls’

Scottish Water MW AwardsSewer blockages are hardly sexy, but it’s a problem which costs Scottish Water millions of pounds every year.

The water service company spends £7m annually on unblocking sewers, which are most often blocked by wet wipes. With this problem in mind, as well as the environmental impact of the microplastics in these wipes, Scottish Water set out to raise awareness and change public behaviour.

It teamed up with agency Always Be Content to produce ‘Nature Calls’ to link together people flushing wet wipes at home with the impact it has on marine and bird life. The creative featured wet wipes creating the shadow of a whale’s tale, seahorse and fish. It called on Scottish residents to “protect [their] rivers and beaches”.

As well as aiming to change behaviour, the campaign looked to build trust behind Scottish Water, and to encourage people to get behind a ban on wipes containing plastic.

The campaign ran across TV, cinema, radio and outdoor, and was led by primetime slots on Channel 4 and Scottish Television (STV). This was supported by ads on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, as well as influencer marketing.

The issues in the campaign were picked up by BBC and STV News. It also resulted in Boots and Tesco announcing they would no longer sell wipes containing plastic.

Following the campaign, Scottish Water rose by 10%, with 73% of those who had seen the advert recalling the key message not to flush wipes down the toilet.

Behaviour changes are also starting to filter through. In the three months after the campaign, sewer blockages were down by a fifth (20.3%) versus the 10-year average. Scottish Water also saved £355,000 in the first three months and is on track to save a total of £1.4m this year. NC

Social Mobility Foundation – ‘Stay Down’

Earlier this year, Marketing Week’s 2022 Career and Salary Survey revealed a socio-economic pay gap within marketing of 19.1%. Sadly, marketing is far from the only profession grappling with a lack of class diversity, a fact the Social Mobility Foundation exposed by mixing modern day horror with cold hard facts.

The UK has an average class pay gap of £6,718 or 13.05%, according to the foundation’s latest data released on Class Pay Gap Day (14 November), the point in the year when people from working-class backgrounds in higher professional managerial positions cease earning relative to their peers.

The Social Mobility Foundation combined the data with a campaign designed to highlight the insidious nature of workplace classism.

Developed in collaboration with Creature London, ‘Stay Down’ is a 15-minute film depicting classism as a real-life horror story. The protagonist Mickey is forced to deal with constant subversive discrimination from an elitist boss and co-worker who effortlessly understands the rules of the corporate workplace. The film cuts to reveal the message: ‘Some horrors aren’t fiction. Classism is still holding people down.’

Designed to demonstrate why the workplace is as important as the classroom in improving social mobility, the Stay Down trailer was shown in cinemas nationwide, supported by posters and a digital out-of-home campaign. The creative also ran in the Halloween edition of the Guardian on Sunday, the intention being to raise awareness among the widest possible audience.

Alongside generating engagement on social media, the Social Mobility Foundation hopes to encourage more employers to contribute to its annual index of the UK’s top 75 employers for social mobility and push the government to launch a consultation on creating a register for class pay gap reporting, the origin of gender pay gap reporting. CR

The best marketing campaigns of 2022: Part 1

Starling Bank – ‘Set Your Business Free’

Starling riffed off its existing B2C platform for a B2B audience with its ‘Set Your Business Free’ campaign, launched in January. It believed bringing the emotional storytelling used in B2C campaigns combined with rational messages could help it cut through in the competitive B2B banking sector.

The bank had not produced a B2B campaign in two years and was seeing its consideration lagging at 13%. CEO Anne Boden is aiming to overtake Barclays in the business banking market, eyeing an 18% share within the next few years.

The four 30-second TV spots that form the Set Your Business Free campaign build on the theme of freedom from the earlier ‘Set Yourself Free’ concept. The ads are aimed specifically at speaking to SMEs, and are designed to show business owners they do not need to be “bogged down” by the admin and other “really irritating things” usually associated with banking, Starling Bank’s brand director Rachel Kerrone told Marketing Week.

The strategy paid off, and the campaign has seen ad awareness among key business decision makers almost double, hitting 17% in Q1 2022, while consideration among B2B customers reached 23%. The campaign saw Starling increase its market share from 6.3% to 7.5% – half that of rival Barclays – and open 61,511 new B2B accounts, with this rate of growth, Boden says it is a “strong possibility” that the brand will achieve its goal of overtaking its rival in the next five years. This represented a 15% growth in B2B accounts from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022.

The success of this campaign also helped Starling Bank win the Marketing Week Award for B2B this year. NC

Tyl- ‘It’s time for Tyl’

NatWest B2B business Tyl pulled closer to its masterbrand with its first major ad campaign, ‘It’s time for Tyl’.

The brand is a payment provider for small businesses, launched by NatWest Group in 2019. Tyl was looking to build awareness by utilising the halo effect between it and the masterbrand.

“One of the challenges of the brand is obviously that people don’t necessarily know who we are or what we do,” marketing director Allie Lawson told Marketing Week at the campaign’s launch. “This is about putting us on the map.”

The campaign falls under NatWest’s ‘Tomorrow Begins Today’ creative platform. It calls out directly to business owners to not let anything get in the way of their business running smoothly, whether they’re a chip shop owner or a dentist.

The ad ran until October this year, across Sky Adsmart, video-on-demand and online video. Lawson said she is a “firm believer” in the power of TV, even for B2B brands which traditionally shy away from the channel. However, this campaign did not have a linear TV element as Tyl was limited by budget.

Inbound marketing and sales leads, as well as increase to website traffic and branded search volume was used to measure performance. Despite budget limitations, it has performed well across all these metrics.

Since launching the campaign in May 2022, Tyl has seen a 72% growth in marketing-attributed sales compared to 2021. It has seen its branded search volumes more than double (127% growth) year over year, while its unique website visitors have grow by a third (33%).

Virgin Group – ‘Dyslexic Thinking’

Virgin MW AwardsWith a staggering 97% of the UK still thinking of dyslexia as a medical disorder, Virgin Group took on the task of changing perceptions in a huge way with its ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ campaign.

In collaboration with Made by Dyslexia, LinkedIn, and FCB Inferno, the campaign highlighted how ‘dyslexic thinking’ is a good thing for people and businesses.

Against a backdrop of negativity around dyslexia, Virgin’s founder Richard Branson shared his own experiences with dyslexia, showing the role it has played in his life. “My dyslexic thinking has helped me see solutions, where, I think, others saw problems,” he said in the film.

The campaign also told the story of how history has been shaped by people with dyslexia.

As part of the purpose-led campaign, LinkedIn listed ‘dyslexic thinking’ as a skill available to its 810 million global users, and it was added as an official term on

The campaign, which won the 2022 Marketing Week Award for Brand Purpose this year, contributed to a 1,562% increase in positive mentions about dyslexia online, while negative mentions across social media fell 4,450% compared to pre-campaign levels.

As a result of the campaign, more than 10,000 people added dyslexic thinking as a skill on their LinkedIn profile, and within 30 days 13,000 HR and recruitment leaders had watched the film illustrating the role dyslexic thinkers can have within a company. MI

The best marketing campaigns of 2022: Part 1