The most memorable campaigns of 2011

There’s still a couple of weeks left in the year, but Pitch decided to jump the gun and put together a list of the most memorable campaigns of 2011.

The list celebrates work across a wide variety of brands, styles and themes, while also championing a creative approach to both advertising and media planning. We’ve catered to all tastes, from cats with opposable thumbs and alco-pop drinking males, to pint-sized menaces and dancing farmers. There are plenty of familiar spots you’ll undoubtedly remember and there are some unexpected ones you may have missed the first time round.

Congratulations to both agencies and brands for some stellar work in what has no doubt been a tough year. Now go out and make 2012 even better.

Phones 4U
Agency – Adam & Eve

Never one to shirk way from a controversial ad, Phones 4U unveiled its new £5.2m integrated horror-themed marketing campaign in September, with the tagline, “Missing our Deals will Haunt You.” It is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority, following complaints from the public that the ads were scheduled too early and not suitable for children to see. While it doesn’t flaunt any CAP advertising codes the decision to air the ads during peak times is questionable. However scary the ads are (to some) it can’t take away from the fact that the phone retailer has been in the press regularly since September, as debate around the ads swirls. Not bad for a brand awareness campaign.

Sony Playstation and Nissan: GT Academy
Agency – Manning Gottlieb OMD

It’s one thing to sit in your dingy flat racing around Silverstone on your Playstation 3 via the comfort of your IKEA futon. It’s another to actually do it for real as part of a primetime TV series. Sony Playstation made this a reality for gamers across the UK when it teamed up with Nissan in June to promote the latest instalment of racing simulator Gran Turismo 5. The integrated campaign gave couch racers the chance to become a professional racing driver for team Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour International. Combining strong insight with clever branded content, Manning Gotttlieb OMD developed the creative into a TV series that was picked up by over 160 broadcasters worldwide and generated hundreds of digital and paper column inches of awareness for the Playstation 3 title.

Nokia – Amazing Everyday
Agency – Inferno, HyperNaked, 1000 Heads and Carat

The jury’s still out on Nokia’s bid to take on the might of Apple on Google in the hotly contested smartphone market, so the inclusion of the “Amazing Everyday” will raise more than a few furrowed brows. But hear us out first. Nokia has a lot riding on its new “youthful’ approach to marketing, yet hasn’t let that stop it from putting social media at the vanguard of the launch of its long-awaited Windows Phones. From the innovative “blipverts” and quirky TV ads to crowdsourcing content from facebook, the campaign marks a dramatic tonal shift for the Finnish brand. Time will tell whether Nokia’s strategy is strong enough to strike the right balance between people and product, but based on first impressions the battle for supremacy in the smartphone market just got more interesting.

WKD – “Missus Alert”
Agency – Big Communications

It’s strange that WKD continues to market heavily towards a young male audience, considering alco-pops are predominately consumed by females (in our experience anyway, I can’t seem to find any consumption data online). But if it means that we get to see more ads asking “Have you got a WKD side?” then long may the approach continue. The latest spot pushes all the right buttons with the target audience, and was no doubt the topic of conversation in bars across the country this summer. It would be interesting to see whether it affected buying behaviour during 2011. Fun commercial, but I still have no burning desire to drink the blue concoction.

Yeo Valley – Churned
Agency – BBH

So, you blew your entire £5m ad budget on your first ever TV spot and the gambit paid off big time. How do you follow it up? You cobble together a fake boyband called The Churned to sing another farming-inspired tune, this time called “Forever”. Organic dairy brand, Yeo Valley, took over an entire commercial break of ITV’s ‘The X Factor’ to unleash the rural pop act on the nation. Although it doesn’t stray too far from last year’s ad, the site of popstar wannabes serenading cows and dancing on hay stacks doesn’t fail to produce a rye smile (even after multiple viewings). It will be interesting to see whether the brand is brave enough to do something radically different in 2012 or sticks to what it does best. Tractors.

Barnardo’s “Life Story”
Agency – BBH

Eschewing the hard-hitting tone of previous ads, children’s charity Barnardo’s showed viewers that “It doesn’t have to end like it began”, with the “Life Story” TV spot. The BBH created ads, begin with a 30-year old man before tracking back through his troubled life to reveal how he was abused as a child. The concept, smart and touching, is fantastic, but the genius is in the details – the clever editing and shaky can do well to move this ad away from just another commercial. Developed by the creative minds of some of BBH’s finest young talent, the TV ad captures perfectly what the charity does in a way no other medium can.

Heineken – The Entrance
Agency – Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam

He may not be the most interesting man in the world, but the star of Heineken’s TV spot definitely knows how to make an entrance. Created by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, the ad introduces the Dutch beer brand’s (then) new universal strapline, “Open Your World”. It cleverly revolves around the idea of a “Golden Age” while contrasting it to characters from Hollywood’s past, such as a Kung-fu fighter and an adventurer, (complete with eye patch). It’s not the sight of the ad’s leading man doing his best Ron Burgundy impression that ultimately sells this spot. It’s the catchy song, “The Golden Age” by Danish band The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. So crucial is the song, the act features prominently in the TV spot.

TalkTalk – Homes within Homes
Agency – CHI & Partners

Telecoms provider, TalkTalk used stop frame animation to bring to life its new positioning of “A brighter home for everyone”, earlier this year. And when they mean everyone, do they mean everyone. Even the homes within TalkTalk customers’ homes aren’t safe. Set to Unchained Melody, the ad shows a motley crew of toys, including a superhero and a lonely cuckoo in a clock, looking sadly on as they witness real characters using TalkTalk to interact with one another, while unable to do so themselves. The spot milks the dramatic irony for all its worth, gradually building until each character gets sorted with TalkTalk’s broadband and phone service and is able to make contact with their loved ones. Heartwarming grandeur is difficult to nail at the best of times and few ads this year have come close to achieving the human warmth of this effort from CHI & Partners.

Cravendale – Cats with Thumbs
Agency – Wieden + Kennedy

Imagine cats with thumbs? Imagine they all got together? Would they let us live in peace, or would we be subservient to our new cat overlords. Cravendale Milk showed viewers one harrowing possible vision of a future full of cats with funs in a new ad where the dastardly felines try to rob cartons of white stuff. The cats are undoubtedly cute, but once the CGI gets to work on their mitts the ad descends into a weird cross between West Side Story and The Aristocats. Narrated by Hollywood star, Tim Curry, the Wieden + Kennedy spot builds on the fun shown in 2010’s “Milk Me Brian” ads. And with the possibility of a sequel next year, here’s hoping the agency can build on the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter elements to produce something even bigger. It’s a thumbs up from us!

Volkswagen – The Force
Agency – Deutsch

The now classic spot from Deutsch LA has probably been lauded enough by the press this year, but we’d be lying if we didn’t include it among our most memorable of 2011. Ingeniously conceived and perfectly executed, the spot combines two familiar ad stalwarts – kids and Star Wars – to create a global pop-culture phenomenon. If you think that’s one hyperbole too many. Check these stats out. 44 million views on YouTube, a reported 6.8 billion impressions worldwide, more than $100 million in earned media. The Force is strong in this one.


If you are an agency with a great track record in delivering effective campaigns this year then make sure you enter the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2012 Agency of the Year category – just click here.



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