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Liza Perstneva

The Best Campaigns of 2016 #semrushchat

Liza Perstneva
The Best Campaigns of 2016 #semrushchat

At the end of 2016, we decided to look back at some of the most remarkable marketing campaigns of the past year. Indeed, 2016 saw many marketing campaigns that were experimental, innovative, inspiring and successful.

We’ve chosen the nominees for the four campaigns of last year that most impressed us. Here they are:

  1. IKEA. The company renamed products after the frequently Googled problems that those products solve in an attempt to help solve customers’ relationship issues.  

  2. Esurance. The American insurance company ran a 30-second Super Bowl pregame ad that generated 9,000 tweets in only a minute.

  3. Deadpool. The movie’s marketing campaign was as audacious as the main character himself. Nevertheless, its video content has drawn an unusually high level of engagement.

  4. Always. Its “Like a Girl” ad racked up more than 1.5 million views on YouTube in less than a day.

First of all, we wanted to know which of these campaigns our chat guests liked the most.  

Q1. Which of these campaigns win, and Why?

Our chat guests’ opinions were divided; our participants voted for different campaigns. For example, the Miles Technologies team voted for the “Like a Girl” campaign, because its message resonated with their audience.

Shannon Mouton Gray also liked this campaign, but she wasn’t sure whether or not it was enough to attract new customers: “As a marketer, ‘Like a Girl’ moved me. I'm already a customer; not sure it was enough to get new customers.” When it comes to sales, Shannon thinks that Ikea is the winner.

The ThinkSEM team voted for IKEA’s campaign, because it’s fun and creative. What’s more, it might even meet some of the the company’s SEO needs.

Sarah Wilkes remarked that IKEA’s campaign is emotive and thoughtful. It’s important for a company to know how to touch the hearts of its audience and use emotional triggers appropriately.

Nevertheless, most of our chat participants named the movie Deadpool’s marketing activities the best campaign of 2016. Rachel Howe thinks that Deadpool’s short videos were creative and fun. Also, they were great for social media. On social media, the marketing team created character-inspired emojis and even fabricated a Twitter feud between Deadpool and Wolverine.

Pat Whalen even wrote two blog posts about Deadpool’s marketing success: “Digital Marketing for Deadpool: How 20th Century Fox Innovated Their Marketing Strategy” and “25 Takeaways from the Massively Successful Marketing of Deadpool.”

Colt SebastianTaylor mentioned that Deadpool’s campaign “fits” the movie’s main character well; it was audacious and saucy as Deadpool himself.

Rachel from Express Writers also thinks that Deadpool’s content helped the marketers capture the voice of the main character.

“Deadpool showed what creative marketing can aspire to be with no restrictions,” tweeted Agent Palmer ‏@AgentPalmer.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q1

As you can see, most of our chat participants voted for the third nominee. Indeed, the Deadpool’s marketing team created a strong sense of brand awareness by creating multiple short videos that impressed fans and intrigued those who were unfamiliar with the main character.

Q2. Which brands have consistently done an awesome job with their marketing this year?

Great marketers are constantly experimenting and looking to the latest trends in order to stay on the cutting edge. Our chat guests named five brands that have done an amazing job this whole year.

1. Nestlé

Nestlé is known for its effective marketing and high brand recall value – the extent to which customers associate a brand name with a particular product type or class. Over the past few years, the company changed its online presence and experienced a digital transformation. According to Centric Digital, because of Nestlé’s focus on social media, its number of Facebook followers has significantly increased.

Toll House, the Nestlé brand that’s famous for its chocolate chip cookies, constantly provides its audience with recipes and baking hacks. Toll House’s channel is now one of YouTube’s most popular baking destinations.

2. Spotify

Spotify’s global campaign, which includes the tagline “Thanks, 2016, it’s been weird,” has become known all over the online world. Different versions of the ads with localized messages from Spotify were rolled out across 14 markets. The things is, these messages were driven by data from listeners and pop-culture topics relevant to events that took place in 2016. Spotify CMO Seth Farbman told Creativity: "For us, data inspires and gives an insight into the emotion that people are expressing."

3. Nike

Nike’s “Unlimited” series of commercials was the most remarkable of 2016. The ads generated 3.5 billion impressions. The idea behind this campaign was all about pushing yourself beyond your expected limits. Cameo appearances in the ads included Serena Williams, Kevin Durant and even The Mountain from Game of Thrones.

4. Oreo

Over the past few years, marketers at Oreo have been generating a lot of buzz around the company’s cookies. In 2013, its social media team quickly mobilized during the Super Bowl, and created a quick image, which they posted on Twitter, that said: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.”

Oreo’s marketing campaigns are of the highest quality, because the content the company produces is timely and topical, and that content is posted regularly and consistently and promoted frequently.

5. Disney

In 2016, Disney gifted us pleased cinema goers with great animation movies, such as Zootopia, Jungle Book, Moana and others. Besides the quality of these pictures, their success in the box office was also due to Disney’s smart promotional campaigns.  

Our chat guests also named some other brands, including Volkswagen, BMW, and Heineken.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q2

With these examples as a marketing guide, hopefully, you’ll see more successful marketing campaigns in 2017!

Q3. What were some brand marketing trends that you noticed this year?

In 2016 marketers were focused on customer experience and journey a lot. These days, users have little patience and high expectations. Therefore, businesses should focus their efforts on staying visible and meeting their audience’s needs and expectations.

Our chat participants helped us collect five brand-marketing trends of 2016.

1. More creative content

This past year, brands continued to discover new creative ways to reach their consumers. By making their content more visually appealing, companies attract new clients and help people easily find their business. But to attract customers in 2017, businesses now need much more than just unique and entertaining content. Context is now a stronger factor than ever before. You need to incorporate context into your content marketing in order to help your customers understand how your product or service will impact their lives.

2. Video content

The popularity of videos is constantly increasing. With shorter attention spans, people eagerly consume video content, and this trend is likely to continue in 2017. Many companies have already made branded video content an essential component of their marketing campaigns. Leading marketers are now focusing more on live-stream videos, using platforms like Periscope.

HubSpot provided an infographic with 31 video marketing statistics to inform your strategy. It seems that even more businesses will use branded live-stream videos in 2017.

3. More focus on users’ needs and emotions

Smart branding helps marketers enable their customers to get familiar with their brand and distinguish it from many other companies. In 2016, more businesses understood that it’s crucial to form an emotional connection with their audience. According to The Marketing Site, to be successful in “this new emotional economy” companies need to create and build emotional loyalty. That means companies should build and strengthen customer relationships by connecting with buyers on an emotional level.

4. Storytelling

Storytelling now plays an incredibly important role in attracting clients and keeping them engaged. An increasing number of brands are using it to directly engage with their audience. Many companies apply storytelling to their marketing mix by creating amazing live videos.

5. More personal engagement with audiences

Modern Internet users have more choices and sources of information than ever before. When it comes to purchasing, they have many different products and services that could meet their needs and wants. Therefore, many companies are realizing that it’s important to create personalized messages that fit the needs and interests of their customers.

Social media plays an important role in helping businesses create a personalized user experience. “More and more brands have realized social media is highly effective for reaching an audience,” tweeted ThinkSEM ‏@ThinkSEM.

Let’s sum up these key points.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q3

What brand marketing trends did you notice in 2016? Which trends are you expecting to become even more popular? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Q4. What was your favorite campaign of 2016?

At the end of our Pre-New Year’s discussion, our chat participants named their favorite marketing campaigns of 2016. Here they are.

  • Spotify’s “Thanks, 2016, it’s been weird”

We’ve already mentioned Spotify’s “Thanks, 2016, it’s been weird” brand campaign, which was based on data insights concerning Spotify’s users and run across 14 markets. The PolePositionMkg team pointed out that the marketers showed that they knew their customers, focusing on the importance of music in our lives and making people talk.

  • Deadpool and Suicide Squad’s marketing campaigns

Many marketers were amazed by the promotional campaigns for the movies Deadpool and Suicide Squad. And there’s a reason for this. Moviegoers were so intrigued by Fox’s and Warner Brothers’ campaigns that they overcrowded theaters when the movies were released. According to Hollywood Reporter, the two pictures went on to gross $782.6 and 744 million worldwide respectively.

  • Hamburger Helper’s “Watch the Stove”

On April 1, Hamburger Helper released a five-song mixtape called “Watch the Stove.” This parody of Jay Z and Kanye West's “Watch the Throne” was a well-executed April Fool’s Day prank that helped the brand earn 432,660,000 social impressions and 4,086,000 plays on SoundCloud.  

  • Apple’s iPhone 6s commercial

The hilarious TV commercial for Apple’s iPhone 6s “Timer: Cookie Monster” campaign quickly went viral and now has over 12.5 million views on YouTube. In this ad, Cookie Monster tries to make cookies and uses Siri to set a timer on this iPhone 6s. As expected, Cookie Monster becomes increasingly impatient while waiting for his cookies. This brilliant and funny idea helped the company gain more visibility than any other recent Apple ad.

  • Organic Balance: Real Morning Report

A new campaign from Organic Valley showed what women’s mornings are really like. It was based on profound research concerning how American women between the age of 25 and 54 who work full time spend their mornings. The creators of this campaign said that their goal was to have some fun, sharing the stories and life hacks of people’s crazy mornings.

You can check out a few other amazing marketing campaigns, including those that ran in 2015.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q4

That’s it for today!

We would like to thank our chat guests who made this discussion interesting and productive and wish everyone fresh brand marketing ideas in 2017!

Liza Perstneva is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and a #SEMrushchat host. Follow Liza on Twitter.

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