Each year, there are some standout ads we simply can’t forget. It’s these types of campaigns that make into Cannes Lions, the most prestigious celebration of creative branding. Award entries have officially opened. And our fingers are crossed that these creatives made their submissions.
Burger King, “Escape the Clown”
In an obvious dig at McDonald’s, Burger King continued their 2017 anti-clown advertising with a refreshed “Escape the Clown” campaign in Germany. The aim was simple, get customers to leave McDonald’s and find the nearest Burger King instead.
Grabarz & Partner began by geo-targeting McDonald’s customers. They received a message through social media inviting them to read a review of It 2, which was available in the McDonald’s cinema magazine. After this, readers scanned the page with the Burger King app. When they clicked the “Escape the Clown ” button, a red balloon floated up to reveal a coupon for a 1-cent Whopper.
To up the ante, the app offered a “flee and run” route that directed them to the nearest Burger King. The fast-food chain literally encouraged people to run from their competitors to their own stores. Not to mention, September was ideal timing as It 2 was close to release, so naturally clowns were already on the brain.
Spotify, Listen Like You Used to
Created by Who Wot Why agency, this creative campaign was released in September 2019 in the UK. Relying on nostalgia, cultural winks, and wit, Spotify’s campaign specifically targeted Gen Z, those who grew up between 1979 to 1999. Weaving in callbacks to their younger years is a strong way to leave an impact. Plus, everyone was able to enjoy the clever word play.
Sephora, “Identify as We”
This progressive campaign aligns well with Webster’s word of 2019, the gender neutral pronoun “their.” In Sephora’s campaign, Wednesday Agency showcased the variety of activists and influencers, such as Fatima Jamal and Hunter Schafer, who represent a major sector of their customer base. The lively images were tied into the core message “we belong to something beautiful.” Sephora’s diverse clientele has been a reality for a while, so seeing that embodied in their ads is refreshing. Plus, this was released during Pride Month, a time when most cosmetic brands merely roll out rainbow palettes rather than make a statement. This campaign is definitely a strong contender for the Glass Lion, the award which celebrates diversity.
Head & Shoulders, “DANDRUFF makes you look STUPID”
When your product treats dandruff, your best bet is to have some fun with it. Head & Shoulders’ retro ad, by Saatchi & Saatchi, brilliantly pulled this off. Other variations of this campaign included similar aesthetics but with Indiana Jones, Albert Einstein, and Sherlock Holmes. All historically brilliant characters had the same tagline in the corner, “DANDRUFF makes you look STUPID.” The copy provides the right amount of playful taunting while the beautiful, comic-like illustrations give it eye-catching appeal.
Nike, “Dream Further”
When it comes to inspirational creatives, Nike always seems to deliver. At the 2019 World Cup, Wieden + Kennedy brought female participation in football (or, in the US, soccer) to the forefront. Through the lense of a young girl, Nike demonstrated the journey that a female sports player can take. Ultimately, the girl entering into a historically male-dominated profession was backed by the message “Don’t change your dream. Change the world.”
Doritos flaunted the fact that it’s so iconic, it doesn’t need a name or logo. In a commercial, Twitter handle change (to @Logo_Goes_Here), website change (thelogogoeshere.com), and Snapchat filter, Goodby Silverstein & Partners pushed a big message, “It’s the chip so iconic … we don’t need to name it.” It’s a bold claim. But watching the commercial, you have to agree with it. Even though this concept applies to many big brands, Doritos was lucky enough to be the first to shed light on it.
L’Oreal, “This is an Ad for Men”
The creative minds at McCann Worldgroup Deutschland, brought feminism to the forefront of L’Oreal Paris’ social media ad campaign. These images are not only visually clever, they’re backed by real stats. In-house research from both McCann and L’Oreal uncovered that 91.4% of management and governing boards are comprised of men in Germany.
The two then teamed-up to look into the women who do hold leadership positions in the country. Apparently, when women occupy 30% of management positions, profitability was 15% higher. Additionally, female executives performed 24% above men in management reviews. Finally, firms which employed more women leaders yielded around 20% more patents per year.
These shocking figures needed to be showcased. L’Oreal excelled at bringing these numbers on display without losing sight of their products. It’s also a little meta. The disclaimer at the top, “Hire more women in leadership roles. We’re all worth it.” implies that women also created the ad which visualizes their untapped value in the workplace.
Samsung, “QLED + 6 Underground + Ryan Reynolds”
This ad is sure to make you both laugh and scratch your head in mild confusion. What exactly is being advertised? Perhaps all 3? Why not maximize air time after all. That’s what Adam&EveDDB thought. The agency not only recognized Ryan Reynolds’ undeniable appeal, they realized that 3 ads rolled into one could be effective with the right dialogue and spokesperson. It was a completely new type of ad.
Creating the first ad-inception, if you will, definitely had people talking and watching. The YouTube clip alone currently has 2.1 million views. Considering we’re usually trying to skip through, not watch, ads, this is a pretty remarkable figure.
KFC, “Mother’s Day Performance”
Good branding is memorable. Great branding upgrades recognizable branding. For Mother’s Day, KFC released an ad with it’s long-beloved Colonel Sanders spokesperson — but this time, with a twist. Wieden + Kennedy amped up the youth and sex appeal to turn Colonel Sanders into a “Chickendale” (play on Chippendales). It was funny, unexpected, and consequently was met with millions of views. All the while, it was also showcasing a new offering. The clip was eccentric, yet that’s fairly on-brand for KFC’s marketing strategies.
The campaigns on this list were compelling enough to be met with global attention and praise. That’s not an easy feat in the modern world. While creative taste is subjective, being memorable and discussion-worthy are the biggest indicators of success.
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