20 CAMPAIGNS WE WISH WE DID

20 CAMPAIGNS WE WISH WE DID

As students of the art and science of marketing communications, we’re inspired by the great work that our industry creates year after year. Here are twenty campaigns that made us green with envy—and spurred us on to try harder.

As students of the art and science of marketing communications, we’re inspired by the great work that our industry creates year after year. Here are twenty campaigns that made us green with envy—and spurred us on to try harder.

1. Scott Foreman: Snickers, “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign. It’s a great example of a human truth, “You get hangry when you haven’t eaten,” and a product truth, “a big, substantial candy bar that satisfies,” both coming together in a powerful creative idea, perfectly executed. Simple. Memorable. Relevant. Unexpected. Famous.

2. Tim O’Mara: Nike created one of my favorite television spots of all time, a tribute to marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson. What makes the spot great is it perfectly sums up the dedication required to be an elite athlete without ever having to say it. No Nike “sell” required either. Everyone got the point. Beautifully executed.

3. Tonya Murphy: The Friskies kitten videos “Dear Kitten.” The voice work is spot-on, the writing is sharp and the shots of the cats are perfect. I also love that this campaign was not distributed traditionally via broadcast, but in a partnership with BuzzFeed, which then quickly became viral. There are many in the series, but the first one is great. And you know how much I like cats!

4. Kelly Green: I wish I’d been a part of the REI #OptOutside campaign. Totally on point, their advertising changed the way society looked at Black Friday and turned the seemingly impossible pull of commercialism upside down. Go REI! This was the launch video.

And three years later it’s still relevant. This was the November 2017 release:

5. Chris Copacino: Jack Daniel’s, “Our Town”; here’s the “anthem” spot. I love the authenticity of this and the sharp writing. I love telling a genuine story of the origin of an authentic brand and then injecting the brand with the texture of the very place it came from. This campaign is real, sharp, smart, funny, and poignant. It’s an iconic American brand, which the tone, manner, look, and feel of the spot help reinforce. At the elemental level, we tell stories in our business, and this is a beautifully crafted tale you can’t help but jump into.

6. Rebecca Arbeene: I’ve always admired the Travel Oregon campaign. It’s evolved year over year, but 2014 stood out with “The 7 Wonders of Oregon.”

The campaign featured seven iconic natural wonders of Oregon as the focus of destination travel: the Oregon coast, Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, the Painted Hills, the Wallowas, and Smith Rock. The creative concept was rooted in the belief that whoever named the Seven Wonders of the World must have never set foot in Oregon. The fully integrated campaign included interesting video, digital and social advertising involving travel influencers, partners, and a gallery of amazing adventures curated with the hashtag #traveloregon.

As a native Oregonian, I know the state offers unmatched majestic beauty. And I know that I still need to visit many of these wonders in my lifetime! The 7 Wonders of Oregon.

7. Andrew Gall: I’ve gotta throw my hat in the ring for Dos Equis’ memorable “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. Here’s what I love about it: I love that in such a crowded category—for such a pedestrian beer—they were able to attach such a unique, memorable, interesting persona that unapologetically states: “I don’t always drink beer!” What client has the courage to say something like that? One you hold on to, that’s for sure. All of the writing makes me jealous.

8. Andy Westbrock: This is a tough one, since there have so many wonderful campaigns throughout the years. But one of my favorites, at least fairly recently, was the GEICO “Unskippable” YouTube preroll campaign from 2016. They were funny and weird, but also super smart in considering the medium. GEICO “Unskippable” YouTube pre-roll campaign from 2016.

9. Nicole Koestel: Actually, what came to mind was the first campaign that made me really understand what actual advertising was and that people get paid money to do this.

I think I was just fresh out of college, starting my “graphic design” career trajectory, when the Starbucks DoubleShot commercials “Glen” and “Hank” came out. They were complete with product personification, song parodies, and humor in :60 second spots, so what wasn’t to love?

What initially drew me in was definitely the fun/humor angle. But the music also caught my attention. Growing up, I had connected a commercial’s “music” to the brand’s jingles that would get stuck in my head for hours, so it was fun to realize that ads had matured well past that, and to become aware of the “endless opportunities” that commercials could have.

I can’t confidently say that I would still love this commercial as much today (but let’s be real, I would probably still humblebrag about this in my portfolio if I had worked on it). But I’m still forever grateful that this opened up my world up to exploring other advertising career options and helped inspire a really fulfilling shift in my career 11 years later.

10. Cameron Wicker: Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”. This ad is the reason I wanted to get into advertising. When it launched in 1995, it was incredibly powerful in both its message and its delivery. Nike spoke in a feminist voice that both women and men understood. It brought academic studies to life in an inspiring way. And it was full of so much hope. There is an entire generation of women who likely don’t understand how powerful this campaign was at the time, in part because of this campaign. Looking at it again 23 years later, it is still as poignant and illustrates both how far women have come and how far we have to go in leveling the playing field.

11. Dimitri Perera: My favorite campaign of all time seems to have become a staple of New Year’s. It’s become a ritual, which is pretty cool for an ad campaign; it’s the “Year in Search” campaign from Google. Ever since 2015 I’ve looked forward to this video coming out. Last year’s was probably one of my favorite spots ever. This year’s came out a couple of weeks ago and is incredibly inspirational. On the surface, the campaign does an incredible job compiling the year for us on a global level. From an advertising perspective, it speaks to the inquisitive mind that Google helps to foster with its most popular product: search. Our journey on the Internet and our path to learning starts with asking a question, and Google helps answer that question.

12. Melody Kromer: A campaign I wish I would have worked on is the “Shop Small” campaign for American Express. American Express took a problem: not enough small businesses accept American Express, and small businesses are overlooked on Black Friday–and turned them into a holiday. This campaign felt like an organic, social movement that encouraged shoppers to visit their local bookstore or gift shops to stimulate the economy. Congress even officially designated the Saturday after Thanksgiving, “Small Business Saturday.” It would have been amazing to be a part of a campaign with immense measurable results, and to see local business sales double or triple in a few years. It wasn’t just an advertising campaign, but it revolutionized how people shop during Thanksgiving weekend.

13. Alyssa Grigg: In the late 1990s to early 2000s, as an awkward middle-school kid with too much time on my hands, I discovered Budweiser’s radio campaign “Real Men of Genius” and fell in love. I hadn’t had a Bud Light myself, but I found the ads absolutely hilarious. I spent hours hunting down all of the different versions (according to Wikipedia, there are over 200) and downloading them to my first-generation iPod so I could listen to them wherever I went (#nerd). Perhaps this was the spark that inspired my future in advertising. Nearly 20 years later I still crack up listening to these spots. The jingle, the humor, the voice acting = pure genius!

Fun fact: Anheuser-Busch was initially reluctant to air the ads because of their irreverent style, but consumer testing proved them to be a hit and the campaign is now the most awarded in history! You can find a lot of the spots posted on YouTube for your listening pleasure.

14. Sam Zlotnik: I wish I had been involved with WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” campaign. It was a social media campaign during the holidays of 2013. The holidays can be stressful, and the prices for flights in Canada during Christmas can cost you an arm and a leg. There are only two options: Air Canada or WestJet. I love that WestJet wanted to give back during this time and offered a “real-time giving” experience to its customers. They provided an unforgettable, sentimental, and interactive brand activation that transformed into a viral social media campaign where they achieved international attention and surpassed sales goals. We talk a lot about “out of the box” advertising ideas and earned media. This is a great example of both. Plus, it makes me cry every time!

15. Paul Balcerak: I don’t know if this counts as an “advertising campaign” proper, but I really enjoyed Halo Top’s #HaloFlop.

Here’s the gist: These folks make low-calorie ice cream pints, and they released five “golden seals” into the wild with the promise that whoever found them would win a trip for two to Hawaii. Well, only one was found. And while it was kind of a failure, Halo Top’s damage control made it more successful than it probably would have been if it had just worked as intended in the first place.

Here’s how they pivoted:

What I like about this is that it’s human, which is where so many brands just drop the ball and fail on social media. “Things don’t always go according to plan.” How refreshing. That post, by the way, absolutely shattered their average engagement mark on Instagram. So, it’s not just me.

16. Calvin Grover:  The Home Depot “Build-In Pins” campaign truly inspired me; the depth of strategic and tactical excellence is something to marvel at.

From a strategic lens, the platform and audience are a perfect match. Allocating resources on Pinterest could pay off for months to come—the audience demographic is there in droves (not to mention the natural user behavior in the home improvement category), and Pinterest content has surprisingly long distribution (pins can be viral for a very long time!).

The deeper you look, the attention to detail is incredible. Tactically, the campaign shows a very trackable nature that can attribute sales and purchase intent, the production process allows for atomized content (work smarter, not harder!), the pin descriptions are masterpieces of “Pinterest-SEO,” AND last but definitely not least, the campaign introduces an innovative use of the Pinterest: Pins that lead directly to an elegant and shoppable VR experience.

In short, every aspect of this campaign seems to have flawless execution grounded in strategy and user behavior – add it to your “Home” board and “Wow, this is a great campaign” board.

 

17. Brian Alter: I’m going way back in time… Typically, a movie trailer shows just enough (or sometimes too much) of a story to get you excited to see a film. For his Psycho trailer, Alfred Hitchcock doesn’t show any actual scenes from the film. It’s just him being Hitchcock walking around the sets from the film and teasing details for six minutes. It upends the idea of what a trailer should be. Obviously, to work with Hitchcock would’ve been incredible. And to create something that so gleefully defies expectations and breaks ground would be a highlight to any (imaginary) career.

18. Todd Hofmeister: In all my years of advertising, the same theme keeps coming up in the creative.

That is… I wish we did the creative as it was first presented to the client. I have seen so many fantastic ideas and concepts that get watered down by client input. If they could have just kept the initial idea, it would have been much more successful. Now, I am generalizing, and that is not always the case, but I have seen many spectacular ideas killed because of silly hang-ups someone on the decision-making side had and therefore ended up with the “safe” concept.

I remember the old Alaska Airlines commercials and how funny I thought they were as a kid. Who would have thought that many years later I would be working for someone named “Jim” who worked on those very spots. I thought were so funny and clever.

Funny themes included:

  • Paté in a drum;
  • Pygmy chickens, you can fit 125 in a shoe box;
  • Plastic parsley, you can use it over and over again;
  • Pay airline bathrooms at 50 cents, seeking two quarters for $5;
  • Gurgling sink sprays man in crotch as “Return to Seat” light flashes.

Those ads were so true for the time and so funny; they helped put Alaska Airlines and their service on the map.

19. Emily Bishop: One of my favorite campaigns I’ve been seeing around town all year; it makes me smile every time: the Polyclinic’s transit campaign. I like this campaign for a few reasons:

  • It’s a really cool way to showcase what exactly the Polyclinic has to offer. The design is brilliant because the building is something you can see from I-5–people in Seattle likely recognize the building, but maybe never knew exactly what it was. And the design is simple enough to let the headline shine.
  • The copy makes me laugh–it’s clever and interesting as a headline, and the only payoff needed is which department in the Polyclinic the ad is about. It’s one of my favorite awareness campaigns in the city.

In short, it’s a campaign with really great creativity and a solid strategic background. It’s been catching my eye during my commutes for months.

20. Kirsten Speller: It’s hard to just choose one of the many great campaigns out there. One campaign that comes to mind is the Gatorade’s commercial from 2006 with Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan competing to the song “Anything You Can Do I Can Do better.” Gatorade does a great job at producing ads that are entertaining to watch yet convey a message more than just “You should drink this sports drink.” This ad shows friendly competition between two talented athletes many people look up to, and also shows some girl [female] power–something we didn’t see enough of 10 years ago.

20 CAMPAIGNS WE WISH WE DID

20 CAMPAIGNS WE WISH WE DID

As students of the art and science of marketing communications, we’re inspired by the great work that our industry creates year after year. Here are twenty campaigns that made us green with envy—and spurred us on to try harder.

As students of the art and science of marketing communications, we’re inspired by the great work that our industry creates year after year. Here are twenty campaigns that made us green with envy—and spurred us on to try harder.

1. Scott Foreman: Snickers, “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign. It’s a great example of a human truth, “You get hangry when you haven’t eaten,” and a product truth, “a big, substantial candy bar that satisfies,” both coming together in a powerful creative idea, perfectly executed. Simple. Memorable. Relevant. Unexpected. Famous.

2. Tim O’Mara: Nike created one of my favorite television spots of all time, a tribute to marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson. What makes the spot great is it perfectly sums up the dedication required to be an elite athlete without ever having to say it. No Nike “sell” required either. Everyone got the point. Beautifully executed.

3. Tonya Murphy: The Friskies kitten videos “Dear Kitten.” The voice work is spot-on, the writing is sharp and the shots of the cats are perfect. I also love that this campaign was not distributed traditionally via broadcast, but in a partnership with BuzzFeed, which then quickly became viral. There are many in the series, but the first one is great. And you know how much I like cats!

4. Kelly Green: I wish I’d been a part of the REI #OptOutside campaign. Totally on point, their advertising changed the way society looked at Black Friday and turned the seemingly impossible pull of commercialism upside down. Go REI! This was the launch video.

And three years later it’s still relevant. This was the November 2017 release:

5. Chris Copacino: Jack Daniel’s, “Our Town”; here’s the “anthem” spot. I love the authenticity of this and the sharp writing. I love telling a genuine story of the origin of an authentic brand and then injecting the brand with the texture of the very place it came from. This campaign is real, sharp, smart, funny, and poignant. It’s an iconic American brand, which the tone, manner, look, and feel of the spot help reinforce. At the elemental level, we tell stories in our business, and this is a beautifully crafted tale you can’t help but jump into.

6. Rebecca Arbeene: I’ve always admired the Travel Oregon campaign. It’s evolved year over year, but 2014 stood out with “The 7 Wonders of Oregon.”

The campaign featured seven iconic natural wonders of Oregon as the focus of destination travel: the Oregon coast, Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, the Painted Hills, the Wallowas, and Smith Rock. The creative concept was rooted in the belief that whoever named the Seven Wonders of the World must have never set foot in Oregon. The fully integrated campaign included interesting video, digital and social advertising involving travel influencers, partners, and a gallery of amazing adventures curated with the hashtag #traveloregon.

As a native Oregonian, I know the state offers unmatched majestic beauty. And I know that I still need to visit many of these wonders in my lifetime! The 7 Wonders of Oregon.

7. Andrew Gall: I’ve gotta throw my hat in the ring for Dos Equis’ memorable “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. Here’s what I love about it: I love that in such a crowded category—for such a pedestrian beer—they were able to attach such a unique, memorable, interesting persona that unapologetically states: “I don’t always drink beer!” What client has the courage to say something like that? One you hold on to, that’s for sure. All of the writing makes me jealous.

8. Andy Westbrock: This is a tough one, since there have so many wonderful campaigns throughout the years. But one of my favorites, at least fairly recently, was the GEICO “Unskippable” YouTube preroll campaign from 2016. They were funny and weird, but also super smart in considering the medium. GEICO “Unskippable” YouTube pre-roll campaign from 2016.

9. Nicole Koestel: Actually, what came to mind was the first campaign that made me really understand what actual advertising was and that people get paid money to do this.

I think I was just fresh out of college, starting my “graphic design” career trajectory, when the Starbucks DoubleShot commercials “Glen” and “Hank” came out. They were complete with product personification, song parodies, and humor in :60 second spots, so what wasn’t to love?

What initially drew me in was definitely the fun/humor angle. But the music also caught my attention. Growing up, I had connected a commercial’s “music” to the brand’s jingles that would get stuck in my head for hours, so it was fun to realize that ads had matured well past that, and to become aware of the “endless opportunities” that commercials could have.

I can’t confidently say that I would still love this commercial as much today (but let’s be real, I would probably still humblebrag about this in my portfolio if I had worked on it). But I’m still forever grateful that this opened up my world up to exploring other advertising career options and helped inspire a really fulfilling shift in my career 11 years later.

10. Cameron Wicker: Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”. This ad is the reason I wanted to get into advertising. When it launched in 1995, it was incredibly powerful in both its message and its delivery. Nike spoke in a feminist voice that both women and men understood. It brought academic studies to life in an inspiring way. And it was full of so much hope. There is an entire generation of women who likely don’t understand how powerful this campaign was at the time, in part because of this campaign. Looking at it again 23 years later, it is still as poignant and illustrates both how far women have come and how far we have to go in leveling the playing field.

11. Dimitri Perera: My favorite campaign of all time seems to have become a staple of New Year’s. It’s become a ritual, which is pretty cool for an ad campaign; it’s the “Year in Search” campaign from Google. Ever since 2015 I’ve looked forward to this video coming out. Last year’s was probably one of my favorite spots ever. This year’s came out a couple of weeks ago and is incredibly inspirational. On the surface, the campaign does an incredible job compiling the year for us on a global level. From an advertising perspective, it speaks to the inquisitive mind that Google helps to foster with its most popular product: search. Our journey on the Internet and our path to learning starts with asking a question, and Google helps answer that question.

12. Melody Kromer: A campaign I wish I would have worked on is the “Shop Small” campaign for American Express. American Express took a problem: not enough small businesses accept American Express, and small businesses are overlooked on Black Friday–and turned them into a holiday. This campaign felt like an organic, social movement that encouraged shoppers to visit their local bookstore or gift shops to stimulate the economy. Congress even officially designated the Saturday after Thanksgiving, “Small Business Saturday.” It would have been amazing to be a part of a campaign with immense measurable results, and to see local business sales double or triple in a few years. It wasn’t just an advertising campaign, but it revolutionized how people shop during Thanksgiving weekend.

13. Alyssa Grigg: In the late 1990s to early 2000s, as an awkward middle-school kid with too much time on my hands, I discovered Budweiser’s radio campaign “Real Men of Genius” and fell in love. I hadn’t had a Bud Light myself, but I found the ads absolutely hilarious. I spent hours hunting down all of the different versions (according to Wikipedia, there are over 200) and downloading them to my first-generation iPod so I could listen to them wherever I went (#nerd). Perhaps this was the spark that inspired my future in advertising. Nearly 20 years later I still crack up listening to these spots. The jingle, the humor, the voice acting = pure genius!

Fun fact: Anheuser-Busch was initially reluctant to air the ads because of their irreverent style, but consumer testing proved them to be a hit and the campaign is now the most awarded in history! You can find a lot of the spots posted on YouTube for your listening pleasure.

14. Sam Zlotnik: I wish I had been involved with WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” campaign. It was a social media campaign during the holidays of 2013. The holidays can be stressful, and the prices for flights in Canada during Christmas can cost you an arm and a leg. There are only two options: Air Canada or WestJet. I love that WestJet wanted to give back during this time and offered a “real-time giving” experience to its customers. They provided an unforgettable, sentimental, and interactive brand activation that transformed into a viral social media campaign where they achieved international attention and surpassed sales goals. We talk a lot about “out of the box” advertising ideas and earned media. This is a great example of both. Plus, it makes me cry every time!

15. Paul Balcerak: I don’t know if this counts as an “advertising campaign” proper, but I really enjoyed Halo Top’s #HaloFlop.

Here’s the gist: These folks make low-calorie ice cream pints, and they released five “golden seals” into the wild with the promise that whoever found them would win a trip for two to Hawaii. Well, only one was found. And while it was kind of a failure, Halo Top’s damage control made it more successful than it probably would have been if it had just worked as intended in the first place.

Here’s how they pivoted:

What I like about this is that it’s human, which is where so many brands just drop the ball and fail on social media. “Things don’t always go according to plan.” How refreshing. That post, by the way, absolutely shattered their average engagement mark on Instagram. So, it’s not just me.

16. Calvin Grover:  The Home Depot “Build-In Pins” campaign truly inspired me; the depth of strategic and tactical excellence is something to marvel at.

From a strategic lens, the platform and audience are a perfect match. Allocating resources on Pinterest could pay off for months to come—the audience demographic is there in droves (not to mention the natural user behavior in the home improvement category), and Pinterest content has surprisingly long distribution (pins can be viral for a very long time!).

The deeper you look, the attention to detail is incredible. Tactically, the campaign shows a very trackable nature that can attribute sales and purchase intent, the production process allows for atomized content (work smarter, not harder!), the pin descriptions are masterpieces of “Pinterest-SEO,” AND last but definitely not least, the campaign introduces an innovative use of the Pinterest: Pins that lead directly to an elegant and shoppable VR experience.

In short, every aspect of this campaign seems to have flawless execution grounded in strategy and user behavior – add it to your “Home” board and “Wow, this is a great campaign” board.

 

17. Brian Alter: I’m going way back in time… Typically, a movie trailer shows just enough (or sometimes too much) of a story to get you excited to see a film. For his Psycho trailer, Alfred Hitchcock doesn’t show any actual scenes from the film. It’s just him being Hitchcock walking around the sets from the film and teasing details for six minutes. It upends the idea of what a trailer should be. Obviously, to work with Hitchcock would’ve been incredible. And to create something that so gleefully defies expectations and breaks ground would be a highlight to any (imaginary) career.

18. Todd Hofmeister: In all my years of advertising, the same theme keeps coming up in the creative.

That is… I wish we did the creative as it was first presented to the client. I have seen so many fantastic ideas and concepts that get watered down by client input. If they could have just kept the initial idea, it would have been much more successful. Now, I am generalizing, and that is not always the case, but I have seen many spectacular ideas killed because of silly hang-ups someone on the decision-making side had and therefore ended up with the “safe” concept.

I remember the old Alaska Airlines commercials and how funny I thought they were as a kid. Who would have thought that many years later I would be working for someone named “Jim” who worked on those very spots. I thought were so funny and clever.

Funny themes included:

  • Paté in a drum;
  • Pygmy chickens, you can fit 125 in a shoe box;
  • Plastic parsley, you can use it over and over again;
  • Pay airline bathrooms at 50 cents, seeking two quarters for $5;
  • Gurgling sink sprays man in crotch as “Return to Seat” light flashes.

Those ads were so true for the time and so funny; they helped put Alaska Airlines and their service on the map.

19. Emily Bishop: One of my favorite campaigns I’ve been seeing around town all year; it makes me smile every time: the Polyclinic’s transit campaign. I like this campaign for a few reasons:

  • It’s a really cool way to showcase what exactly the Polyclinic has to offer. The design is brilliant because the building is something you can see from I-5–people in Seattle likely recognize the building, but maybe never knew exactly what it was. And the design is simple enough to let the headline shine.
  • The copy makes me laugh–it’s clever and interesting as a headline, and the only payoff needed is which department in the Polyclinic the ad is about. It’s one of my favorite awareness campaigns in the city.

In short, it’s a campaign with really great creativity and a solid strategic background. It’s been catching my eye during my commutes for months.

20. Kirsten Speller: It’s hard to just choose one of the many great campaigns out there. One campaign that comes to mind is the Gatorade’s commercial from 2006 with Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan competing to the song “Anything You Can Do I Can Do better.” Gatorade does a great job at producing ads that are entertaining to watch yet convey a message more than just “You should drink this sports drink.” This ad shows friendly competition between two talented athletes many people look up to, and also shows some girl [female] power–something we didn’t see enough of 10 years ago.