December 31, 2016 | Sarah Danks

Last week’s #semrushchat topic — The Best Campaigns of 2016 — was a(nother) fast and furious hour of bright minds and quick fingers.

As we all typed out our answers to the questions, it got me to thinking: what ARE the best marketing campaigns of this past year? There were a LOT mentioned in this chat that were fantastic — but of course depending on what types of products, services and brands you pay attention to, the list is infinite.

Plus, of course, you have to factor in opinions (of which I have plenty).

As marketers, we’re always peeking over the hedge to see what others are doing…

…creepy? No. We’re just curious, is all.

So, to wrap up 2016 A.D., here are some of the brands and strategies that caught our eyes and attention this year.

#1) Ikea’s Retail Therapy

I’ve been ensconced in the world of SEO for over 10 years (wow, that’s shocking to type), so any time a brand does something outside-of-the-(sand)box, it piques my interest.

Enter: Ikea’s bold move of renaming products on a mirrored retail therapy site. After analyzing how their visitors were searching for ways to improve their relationships with others, Ikea gave a huge nod to their audience by letting them “name” the products.

Well-known for their myriad of furniture solutions, Ikea took their love of solutions for small spaces and expanded it to the human heart.

Even though it’s probably not going to vastly improve their conversions or propel them to the top of the Google SERPs, they (wryly) say, “at least it’ll put a smile on your face.”

And we agree ?

#2) Share a Coke

While the Share a Coke “campaign” has been pretty much ongoing since 2011, the huge brand is keeping it fresh by changing it up.

This year, instead of adding people’s names, they opted to add song lyrics to the iconic Coke bottles and cans:

Of course, as always fans are encouraged to upload their own photos to social media venues using the hashtag #ShareaCoke.

By getting users of the brand involved and making them “part” of the campaign, Coke continues to solidify its name as a household brand.

#3) Deadpool

Okay, so technically this was more of a 2015 marketing campaign, but the movie launched in February of this year so I’m including it. Besides: how cute is Ryan Reynolds?

Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, the Deadpool marketing campaign hit just about every channel there is available to hit — as Wired said, “if this marketing campaign hasn’t crossed at least one of your screens by now, you are a statistical outlier.”

Marvel kicked off the marketing for this R-rated movie with an ever-so-seductive image of Reynolds looking ready for some Netflix-and-chill:

Image courtesy of Hypable

And it didn’t stop there — the company expanded their strategy to include a massive mix of both online and offline media, fully supporting the “omnichannel marketing” trend. Hell, they even created emojis to promote this thing:

Image found on Mashable

That’s going above and beyond right there.

I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the movie — yet — but then again, comics aren’t REALLY my thing…but I’m sure I’ll see it eventually, because, RYAN.

Well, that and a helluva lot of good marketing.

#4) Shot with iPhone

Much like the Coca-cola campaign, Apple carried over its “shot with iPhone” videos this year — and these ads always grab my attention.

Let me say: I used to be very anti-Apple products. Apple users seemed so pretentious that I went the opposite way for a long time, if only so I wouldn’t become “one of them.”

Then I caved because I love taking pictures — and now videos — with my phone.

To my delight, I started seeing ads on TV of videos by actual, real live iPhone owners. The first one I think I ever saw was the ever-so-memorable “Dane in the grass:”

Apple’s not just highlighting its products by showing the high-quality videos shot on iPhones — they’re putting their loyal users front-and-center.

Can’t argue with that logic — how cool would it be to see YOUR shot-with-iPhone video appear on national television?

#5) The Presidential Campaign

Now, before everyone gets their undies in a bunch, don’t think for a second I’m going to wax political here, because I’m not.

That said, you can’t ignore the fact that two extremely wealthy powerful people battled each other across this great (again?) nation for the opportunity to call the White House home.

Yes, sure, it happens every four years, but this year I think what interested me the most about these marketing strategies is the amount each candidate (allegedly) spent…

…and who won.

According to many sources, winner President-elect Trump spent far less than his opponent, Hillary Clinton:

Image from Washington Post

What does that matter?

Well, since PPC is one of the major pillars of our marketing business here at ThinkSEM, we’re always interested in conversions and cost-per-lead.

According to the info presented on CNBC,

“[Trump’s] campaign committee spent about $238.9 million through mid-October, compared with $450.6 million by Clinton’s. That equals about $859,538 spent per Trump electoral vote, versus about $1.97 million spent per Clinton electoral vote.”

The fact that the winner of this year’s presidential election allegedly spent — and raised — far less money to win the nation’s votes than his opponent is quite the marketing campaign win, in our eyes.

Can’t argue with a mighty conversion (you know, getting to be POTUS) AND lower cost-per-acquisition!

And, normally we don’t advocate outsourcing your marketing campaign to a foreign country, but in this case it seemed to work…


Farewell, 2016!

Of course, there were many, many successful — and memorable — marketing campaigns that came from 2016; these were just the five that caught our attention.

During the chat (that spawned all this thought), many great brands were mentioned as having rocked it in the past 12 months, including:

  • Apple
  • Old Spice
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Spotify
  • Volvo Cars Global
  • Hamburger Helper

What were some of your favorite branding campaigns from this year?



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