A Few of Our Favorite Things: Best Ads of the Decade

As 2019 draws to a close, it marks the end of a an era full of impactful marketing achievements that range from from viral videos to aerial stunts to chicken sandwiches. Here are some of the most memorable ad campaigns of the decade.

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Old Spice analyzed their audience and realized that women could be their actual target demographic. They drove a quick and unique ad campaign, successfully launched in 2010 with a viral video. 

When the actor, Isaiah Mustafa, exchanged scripted, funny responses with fans online, they had achieved a “para-social relationship” with audiences.  This resulted in a large online fan base. 

This ultimately increased their sales numbers, and the ad won two awards, including the Grand Prix for film at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.  Later that same year, it won an Emmy for the Outstanding Commercial category.

The Red Bull Stratos Stunt

The 2012 Red Bull Stratos stunt where Austrian daredevil Alex Baumbartner soared through the stratosphere and landed at the Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico, was typical of Red Bull’s brand of adventurousness and fearless mentality. 

Red Bull called this an “event” rather than an “ad”. When the stunt was shown on YouTube livestream, it gained 9.5 million viewers, achieving the record for the “live stream with the most concurrent views ever on YouTube”. Although Red Bull executives claim this wasn’t an ad, it certainly contributed to the growing popularity of the well-known energy drink.

Aerie and #AerieReal Game Changer

In 2014, Aerie took a bold stance in fashion marketing with the launch of its “Real Aerie” campaign featuring models of all sizes in photos that had not been airbrushed our digitally touched up. The ads showed off the latest collection of aerial bras, underwear, and apparel, while celebrating the real, natural beauty and unique features of every woman. 

Aerie then rebranded itself as a body-positive, authentic business featuring celebrity spokespeople and models of all shapes and sizes. Shoppers are encouraged to upload photos of themselves using the Twitter hashtag #aeriereal.  

They were the first national retailer to support (NEDA), National Eating Disorders Association.  This resonated with fans and other brands alike.

Pokemon Go: The WorldWide Phenomenon

Pokemon Go became a global phenomenon in 2016. The augmented reality brought a unique technology to mobile devices, and encouraged many to use their phones to search for Pokemon in real life places. This lead to many exploring the world outside of their homes, while maintaining street credit in the gaming arena.  

The majority of users are those who grew up playing Pokemon games, and wanted to feed their sense of nostalgia. A player’s success in Pokémon Go is directly correlated with the amount of places they explore, which leads to a lot of discussion when they encounter other players in public.  

Those not familiar with the game tend to wonder what the heck they are up to, which lead to a lot of word-of-mouth marketing success.

Popeyes and the Chicken Sandwich War

Fast food chains have become famous for online engagement in the past decade through humor and uncensored sass. In August 2019, when Chick-fil-A Tweeted “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [heart] for the original” as a passive attack against Popeyes’ chicken sandwich, Popeyes replied “bless your little heart.” This soon started a maelstrom of other fast brands, celebrities, and news anchors weighing in on the controversy. 

This actually backfired for Chick-fil-A, and catapulted Popeyes’ chicken sandwich to stardom. In fact, the restaurant was completely sold out within two weeks of launching the campaign. It was the first battle in the ongoing chicken sandwich wars.  Several McDonald’s franchise owners have written to the corporate office, asking for a chicken sandwich in order to compete. 

Burger King’s Whopper Detour 

This campaign was one of the most successful of the year.  It won a few awards at The Cannes Lions, including the Grand Prix.  It also resulted in 1.5 million downloads of the BK app, which dominated Apple’s store for several consecutive days. The fast food giant offered its customers 1 cent Whoppers, but only if they ordered them from rival McDonald’s.  How did they pull that
off? BK realized that they had about half as many locations in the US as McDonald’s does. Once customers downloaded and made an in-app purchase within 600 feet of their nemesis, the app then directed consumers to the nearest Burger King to claim their food. Want to know exactly how they did it? Feel free to give us a shout, and we would love to tell you all about conquesting, geofencing, and some other neat tools that we have. 

These are a few of our favorite campaigns, and we are excited to see what 2020 has in store for the world of marketing.  If you want to geek out with us about conquesting or are simply looking to start a new campaign, we’d love to hear from you.