The Marketing Year: The top campaigns of 2014

ALS #IceBucketChallenge

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge has to be this year’s most widely-talked about and shared campaign with hundreds of celebrities including Leonardo di Caprio and Benedict Cumberbatch taking part in the UK and US.

The challenge, which raised money for motor neurone disease, involved people throwing a bucket of icy water over their head before nominating someone else to do the same and donate to charity.

US charity ALS Association raised more than $100m from the activity, which is more than it made throughout the whole of 2013.

In the UK the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) raised an additional £7m and Macmillan Cancer Support also received £3m in donations but faced criticism after some accused it of jumping on another charity’s campaign, which it denied.

 John Lewis – Monty the Penguin

The John Lewis Christmas ad is now as much a part of the festive season as Santa and turkey. This year’s offer featuring Monty the lovesick penguin has already generated mass attention. Within the first three hours of the ad being revealed #MontyThePenguin was the number one trend on Twitter in the UK and it received more tweets during that time than in the first 24 hours of last year’s #BearAndTheHare hashtag.

Engagement is also translating to sales as John Lewis reported a 21.8% lift during the last week of November compared to the same week the previous year, and a 56.8% increase on the week before. Sales for the week reached £179.1m making it the retailer’s highest ever weekly sales figure.

McVitie’s has also benefitted from the Monty buzz as sales of its Penguin biscuit at Waitrose shot up 75% the week after the ad launched.

Save the Children – If London were Syria

Save the Children’s fundraising drive for Syria shows how a girl’s life changes throughout the year as London gets hit by war and the devastating effect it has on her and her family, to bring home the fact that just because war isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

The ad has been viewed more than 42 million times on YouTube and the success has pushed the organisation to launch more global marketing campaigns to raise awareness of other issues, including one which asked models to make poverty sound sexy.

Save the Children launched another shocking ad featuring a real-life birth earlier in 2014 in an attempt to drive awareness of the fact that 1 million babies die on their first day each year.

Lidl – #LidlSurprises

Lidl’s £20m brand push has helped the discounter move from the sidelines up into the mainstream this year thanks to its “Lidl Surprises” campaign, which focuses on the reactions of customers to the quality and price of its products.

The discount grocer increased sales by 17% in the 12 weeks to 9 November, according to Kantar Worldpanel, and it entered YouGov’s list of the top 10 brands based on consumer perception for the first time earlier this year too.

Lidl also benefitted from a blunder at Sainbury’s after the supermarket mistakenly put an internal poster urging staff to get shoppers to spend an extra 50p on an external window. Lidl jumped on the mistake with a full-page ad launching its own 50p challenge which asked customers to save 50p by shopping with it rather than Sainsbury’s.

The ‘big four’ are now being continually squeezed. Earlier this month Tesco reported a 92% drop in profits, while Sainsbury’s suffered its biggest sales decline for 20 years in the three months to mid-October, and although Morrisons’ sales contraction is slowing, it was still down 5.6% in the quarter to 2 November.

In a further push to convince consumers of the quality of its food, Lidl launched its Deluxe pop-up restaurant in London last month.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label – The Gentleman’s Wager

Diageo’s premium whisky brand Johnnie Walker Blue Label enlisted the help of Hollywood star Jude Law for a short film, which in addition to promoting the drink as a lifestyle brand also offered consumers the chance to purchase the clothes he wears thanks to a partnership with men’s fashion retailer Mr Porter.

“The Gentleman’s Wager” film accumulated 28 million views in its first two weeks beating a record previously held by Heineken as it exceeded the beer brand’s view count by 700%, the clicks by 2,033% and the shares by 2,049%, according to Anomaly, the agency behind the campaign.

Paddy Power – C’mon England PP

paddy power world cup 2014

Although not an official World Cup sponsor, bookmaker Paddy Power reaped the benefits after drawing in consumers with its controversial PR stunts and other activity throughout the event.

The business attracted 795,000 new online customers during the first half of the year as a result, a 35% increase on the previous year.

Throughout the campaign Paddy Power enlisted Professor Stephen Hawking to assess England’s chances in Brazil and pretended to carve ‘C’mon England, PP’ into the Amazon rainforest. It also picked up on key points of the tournament such as the Luis Suarez biting incident and offered “justice payouts” for Italy fans after Uruguay knocked their team out of the tournament.

As a result the bookmaker saw sports book sales rise 17% compared to the same period in 2013.

The mischief maker also came under fire at the beginning of the year after running an ad linked to the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. It received more than 5,000 complaints and was withdrawn by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Adidas – All In Or Nothing

Adidas took an unusual approach to its World campaign, asking people to opt out of its loyalty initiatives and Twitter updates if they don’t “understand Adidas’s philosophy and approach to football.” The strategy, said Adidas, was to focus on quality over quantity in its social media audiences.

The campaign, its biggest in term of media spend ever, appeared to work. The sports brand said it expected sales of football products to hit £1.6bn this year as its marketing fired up demand, including 8 million official jerseys, 1.5 million more than the previous World Cup as it benefited from a sponsorship strategy that saw it providing kits to both finalists and deals with the Golden Ball, Boot and Glove winners.

It was also one of the only World Cup sponsors too see an uptick in ad awareness over the course of the competition, with other brands include Visa, Sony and Emirates, failing to register any noticeable uplift.

McVitie’s – Sweeet

United Biscuits said it wanted to “awaken a sleeping giant” when it launched a £12m campaign that brought all its sweet biscuit brands under the McVitie’s umbrella. Almost nine months and spots for Jaffa Cakes, BN, Digestives and Chocolate Digestives later, the company is claiming success.

It claims its value share of the total biscuit market rose to a record 26% in September, citing Nielsen figures and that Chocolate Digestive Biscuits overtook Kit Kat sales last year. Return on investment has also been “above industry benchmarks” and above any of its previous campaigns.

United Biscuits is now looking to other markets, having been bought by Yildiz Holdings a little over a month ago, with marketing director for sweet biscuits Sarah Heynen saying she believes some of its brands “would travel well”.

Lego – The Lego Movie ITV ad break

Remaking famous movie and TV scenes out of Lego has become hugely popular online and Lego decided to jump on the bandwagon. To promote the release of The Lego Movie, the toy maker enlisted the help of brands including BT, Premier Inn, the British Heart Foundation and, recreating their ads to create an entire lego ad break on ITV.

The film itself went on to do very well at the cinema, topping the charts in markets including the UK and currently sitting at the top of the list of the biggest films at the box office so far this year.

Ryanair – Low Fares. Made Simple.

The airline everyone loves to hate went on a marketing offensive this year after being hit by a series of profit warnings in 2013. That culminated in its first UK TV ad in its 25-year history with a series of spots aimed at highlighting changes it has made to its customer service including an improved website and allowing a second carry-on bag.

Some industry observers may remain unconvinced and consumers perceptions of the brand remain low but where it counts, in sales, the charm offensive appears to have paid off. Ryanair has just raised its profit outlook for the second time in five months following a 22% jump in passenger numbers in the year to November.

“My Burberry”

The campaign, which allowed customers to personalise bottles of its ‘My Burberry’ fragrance with their initials and have them appear on ads, was definitely innovative, but it also proved very effective.

The company said the launch of the “My Burberry” helped lift revenue in its beauty division by 55% in the first half of its fiscal year.

BA Magic of Flying from OgilvyOne

BA claimed the technology for the ‘Magic of Flying’ campaign, which also lived through the hash tag #LookUp, was an “advertising first” and aimed to remind people how magical flying can be.

The ads were located on digital billboards in Chiswick and Piccadilly and interacted with aircrafts in the sky thanks to custom built surveillance technology. The system tracked the aircraft and interrupted the digital display just as it passed over the site, revealing the image of a child pointing at the plane, accompanied by its flight number and destination it was arriving from.

The campaign was creatively lauded, taking home the Grand Prix in the direct category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.


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1 Comment

The ice bucket challenge: one-hit wonder or the future of fundraising?

Sarah Vizard

The ice bucket challenge has been almost impossible to miss for anyone on Facebook or Twitter with millions of people throwing buckets of water over their head and donating money to charities including Macmillan and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MDNA). Both have seen a big increase in donations, but is there a longer term benefit of these viral campaigns?


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