What makes a good social media campaign? If you aren’t aware of the industry lingo, an advertising campaign is a collection of ads, often across a variety of mediums, that revolve around a singular message intended to promote the brand. There are several ways to determine the success of an ad campaign, but typically it is measured by how much buzz it produces, how positively the message is received by the intended market, and whether it generates brand awareness and sales.
In this blog post, we are going to wrap up the year by sharing the most successful social media campaigns of 2019. For each campaign, we will share about the strategies that were implemented, and what made them successful. If you’re looking for inspiration to create an ad campaign for your brand or business, read on to see how these brands killed it this year and how you can use some of their strategies for your own brand in 2020.
Best Social Media Campaigns: Gillette – “The Best Men Can Be”
Gillette released a video spot in early 2019, which showed men in a variety of scenarios standing up against toxic masculinity. They used a strategy that is often implemented by big name brands, in which they made themselves relevant by entering the conversation of the current cultural issues. We’ve seen this tactic used hundreds of times, both successfully (think the “Like a Girl” campaign by Always) and unsuccessfully (think the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi commercial). So what makes this one so effective?
Check out the video here:
In this case, Gillette is responding directly to the growing #MeToo movement, a huge point of controversy and conversation in the social media realm, and offering their endorsement. Many argue it was a risky move for a male-targeted product. But was it? Let’s look at the results.
Gillette’s Twitter feed was flooded with responses, with 1.4 million mentions within the first week alone. The feedback was both positive and negative. It got flak from a portion of its audience, primarily those of the single, middle-aged male demographic who accused the ad of being offensive, degrading to men, and marginalizing of the people who make up its primary consumer base.
However, it received a mainly positive reaction from women and younger men. While many consumers were off-put, research shows women are often the ones who actually buy the grooming products in the household, making this ad extremely effective for that portion of their target audience.
Gillette reported later on that they felt the campaign was successful in achieving their marketing goal. According to the CEO, it was a part of a larger effort to connect with younger consumers and become their trusted brand for grooming. They plan to continue advocating for the values that are important to the younger generation, and gradually take on young adults as their primary consumer base. So although their sales did not budge after this campaign, they were satisfied with the results. This ad was highly effective in increasing brand awareness and brand loyalty among their target audience.
Best Social Media Campaigns: Moon Pie – “#MoonPieToTheMoon2024”
July of 2019 marked 50 years since NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing. To celebrate this huge anniversary, NASA launched a campaign using the hashtag #Apollo50th, posting historical content across social media and digital platforms. The campaign was received well by the public, and out of the millions of responses, 93% were positive.
Shortly afterwards, Vice President Mike Pence met with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s family, and made a speech promoting the trip to the moon coming up in the next 5 years. This publicity led to another hashtag going viral: #Moon2024, which trended on social media for months. Following this, dozens of brands jumped on the opportunity, launching their own social media campaigns related to the upcoming moon trip.
The most successful of these was a campaign created by Moon Pie, a brand of snack cakes of the same name, who took their own spin on the event. They launched #MoonPieToTheMoon2024, a campaign invoking humor, to petition for NASA to take this delicious snack along for the trip. The campaign received overwhelming support, with several Influencers posting their support for NASA bringing a Moon Pie to the moon.
See the video below:
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) July 3, 2019
The objective here was to raise brand awareness among their Gen. Z target audience, and the effort was highly successful. This was a great way for the brand to humorously insert themselves in a hot topic of conversation to grow their own brand salience. They capitalized on current events and grew their support.
Well done, Moon Pie!
Best Social Media Campaigns: Dove – “Project #ShowUs”
Dove, a long-time advocate for female empowerment, launched a social media campaign called “Project #ShowUs” across social media platforms. The company partnered with the largest international stock photo distributor, Getty Images, as well as Girlgaze – a collective of female-identifying and non-binary photographers, to create a large photo library of women and non-binary individuals to combat beauty standards and stereotypes.
If you’ve ever used stock images for marketing or blogging (or really anything) before, then you know that the featured models, especially those of women, are almost exclusively white and are always conventionally attractive. The mission of this campaign was to change that.
The initiative was undeniably successful. They got the exact results they had petitioned for: a large database of stock photos on Getty Images representing a diverse, inclusive, and authentic depiction of female beauty. Furthermore, the women and non-binary people depicted in the images were able to choose their own search descriptions and tags for their pictures, effectively allowing them to define their own beauty.
Check out the video here:
According to Dove’s Global Vice President Sophie Galvani, the marketing goal was “to create a global movement, redefining how women are represented and setting a new standard for the authentic and diverse representation of women across the world.”
This campaign was effective in creating a tangible way for advertisers and media professionals to promote more inclusivity. Dove received thousands of user-generated photos from women around the world, indicating their success in connecting with their target consumer base and raising brand loyalty.
Best Social Media Campaigns: Adidas – “She Breaks Barriers”
It’s not new information that women are not featured in sports media to the same extent that men are. The media promotes men’s sports, while women’s sports repeatedly and consistently fall under the radar. In fact, did you know that only 4% of sports media covered in the U.S. is dedicated to women’s teams? According to Adidas, that’s why this campaign is so important.
Check out the video here:
The initiative began from a social media post, where Adidas asked athletes to use the hashtag #CreatorsUnite and share about the challenges and barriers that they face. Using these responses, they developed the She Breaks Barriers campaign, with one unifying goal: To provide access, remove stereotypes, and address inequality for female athletes at all levels and ages.
The campaign advocates for equal media representation for women. To help jumpstart this initiative, Adidas teamed up with Intersport and Twitter to livestream women’s high school sports on the social media platform for the first time ever.
According to Adidas, the objective of their campaign is to give women in sports more visibility in the media so that young girls would not only stay in sports, but believe that they belong in them just as much as boys do. They were effective in getting women’s sports to be showcased on Twitter, and they received thousands of mentions with a 96% positive reaction. Famous athletes such as Hima Das gave them shoutouts, and the YouTube video became one of the most mentioned on social media.
Way to go, Adidas!
Best Social Media Campaigns: Nike – “Dream Crazier”
That’s right, we saved the best for last. Nike’s “Dream Crazier” campaign took the world by storm in early 2019.
Gender stereotypes in sports have been a problem for, well, as long as sports have existed. Our society frequently idolizes male athletes for being strong, competitive, and determined. On the other hand, when women are “too” competitive, loud, or passionate about their sport, they are often portrayed as “crazy” or “overly emotional” by the media. This is the basis for Nike’s campaign. Female athletes are not given the media credibility that they deserve.
Watch the video spot here:
Narrated by Serena Williams, the ad addresses double standards for women in sports and speaks out against sexist stereotypes. Rather than allowing it to belittle them, it suggests that women embrace the stereotype of being “crazy,” to reject the trope by receiving it as a synonym for being motivated and passionate.
Some of the dialogue reads:
“When we show emotion, we’re called ‘dramatic’ . . . When we stand for something, we’re ‘unhinged’. . . And if we get angry, we’re ‘hysterical,’ ‘irrational,’ or ‘just being crazy’ . . . So if they want to call you crazy, fine. . . Show them what crazy can do.”
This monologue is played on top of a series of clips of females in sports performing incredible athletic feats. The production of the ad was immaculate. As a result, it was incredibly effective in reaching its intended audience and generating conversation. The video received 11 million views on YouTube, over 20 million on Instagram, and over 32 million on Twitter. After launching the campaign, the stock price of Nike grew by a third, and the spot received $43 million worth of media exposure. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres even made their own versions of the ad, widening the reach of its audience even further.
It is hard to measure whether this ad will prove effective in transforming the narrative around female athletes, but it was certainly a great start in encouraging young women and girls to stay in sports and to not shy away from their own inner determination and strength. The campaign lays a great foundation for a revolutionary shift in our cultural perspective and the eradication of these gender stereotypes.
Best Social Media Campaigns: Common Themes
So what can you take from all of this to help guide your own advertising strategy? One common theme among all the campaigns is that they used a multi-platform distribution strategy. When you have a great ad or campaign, it is important to post it across all of your platforms, not just one. These brands all shared their campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. This is imperative because it ensures maximum reach for all of their audiences.
Furthermore, each campaign was built upon a relevant cultural context that evoked powerful feelings in their audience. Not only did they all address current societal issues, they each added something unique and meaningful to the cultural conversation, either with humor, imagery or insight. When creating your campaigns, make sure you are staying aware of the current social issues, whether you use them directly in your campaign or not. Know the culture or sub-culture to which your ad is directed. Often we find that cultural context can be used advantageously to connect with our desired audience.
All of the campaigns here leveraged the power of strong social media influencers and themes to generate buzz. Gillette used the #MeToo movement to propel its message, Moon Pie utilized the re-popularization of NASA, Adidas included the famous and sometimes criticized Serena Williams, and so on. That being said, most of us don’t have a lineup of A-List celebrities at our disposal. But even small, local influencers can greatly enhance the power of a campaign. Research some influencers in your market and reach out to them. These people are usually more than happy to work with brands to further their own values and brand messaging.
Finally, the campaigns all had a strong single-minded proposition. Adidas and Nike, for example, didn’t vaguely address gender inequality in sports; instead, they each had a very specific issue with a clear objective in mind (Adidas addressed lack of female representation, while Nike highlighted sexist gender stereotypes). It is very important that your mission is clear. This doesn’t mean you need to directly state your marketing goal word-for-word (Nike never said in their ad “sexist stereotypes are bad”; instead they showed it with imagery). It means that you should know what exactly your goal is, so that every aspect of your campaign aligns with the singular purpose.
Remember that you may not appeal to everyone. In fact, like Gillette, you may offend people with your proposition, and that’s okay. Copyblogger said it best when they wrote: “You need the courage to alienate the wrong people in order to resonate with the right people . . . The fact is, if no one hates you, you’re doing something wrong.”
Still daunted by the idea of advertising on social media? Let us take it off your hands and do it for you! Contact us today – we are a full-scale social media agency which specializes in social media advertising, and we would love to share our expertise with you.