2018 was another powerful year for creative and provoking ad campaigns. We’re summing it all up with our picks for 3 of the top marketing campaigns of 2018!

Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th Anniversary Campaign:

Nike made big waves this past year in its 30th anniversary, “Just Do It” campaign. The campaign was composed of a series of black & white photos featuring influential athletes and Nike’s “Dream Crazy” video, which quickly went viral over the choice of narrator. Now, while this campaign pulled out some powerful household names in the world of sports, including Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr, and Lebron James, it was another name that made this campaign pop the way it did, Colin Kaepernick. It can be argued that his name played a major role in the 31% increase in online sales (BBC) in the weekend following the initial campaign launch and an estimated $6 billion in added market value (Adweek) for Nike.

Kaepernick is famous for being the first NFL player to kneel during the pre-match national anthem to protest racism. He has since been largely shunned from the league for his perceived unpatriotic behavior. Nike chose to embrace his message, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” In doing this, Nike took a calculated risk in its prediction that the majority of its diverse audience would respect them, rather than punish them, for this moment of standing by Kaepernick. It was a risk that paid off.  

Smirnoff & Spotify’s Equalizer Campaign

The music industry is no stranger to the gender gap and this year Smirnoff, the vodka brand, made headlines for its mission to close this gap through its Smirnoff Equaliser campaign.

After Smirnoff discovered that none of the top 10 most streamed songs of 2017 were performed by women, they launched an innovative ‘equaliser’ that provides users with a gender percentage breakdown of their listening habits. Users then have the option to move a slider to increase the percentage of female artists, in the form of a personalized playlist, driving awareness of the gender bias in music and enabling users to personally create action to make a difference.

The Smirnoff equaliser created powerful changes in Spotify users’ listening habits, creating 630 million impressions and a “52% increase in the number of female artists streamed on Spotify” (Marketing Drive). Smirnoff is here to show that creating a positive change in our society is possible with the right type of partners by your side.  

Tide’s “It’s a Tide Ad” Campaign

Football is not the only place where champions are decided on Super Bowl Sunday. Each year companies spend millions competing with each other to best reach the 103.4 million viewers (IBC). We’re all familiar with the typical Superbowl beer ads and the smart speaker ads, but before that Superbowl Sunday few would imagine watching one of these predictable ads, opening like any other, to be hijacked by Police Chief Jim Hopper (actor David Harbour) with, “Nope, it’s a Tide ad.”

Tide is one of the most popular laundry detergents in the United States, and that Sunday, Stranger Things star David Harbour made the case that if you’re seeing clean clothes in an ad, it’s really just a Tide ad in disguise. They drilled this home with 90 seconds of picture-perfect parodies in total over the course of the game.

While the brand may have spent close to $15 million on the ads, it seemed to have paid off for the sustained organic engagement and sales that followed. Following the ads, #TideAd peaked at No. 2 on Twitter’s trending list and Tide enjoyed over 640 stories written about the ad, double-digit sales growth, several awards, and finally some good PR after the “tide pod challenge” (Adweek 2).