7 Game Changing Marketing Campaigns

As a marketer you’re responsible for changing the game.  Every day you have the opportunity to dream up and execute a marketing initiative that could re-shape your business and re-define your career.

And that’s damned exciting. And it’s also kinda scary. Because it’s hard.

This post isn’t a classic SEO post. It’s a post about taking inspiration from awesome marketing initiatives that have had genuine business impact.

The takeaway from this post is a challenge to you to think bigger. It’s something that we’re really focusing on here at Distilled at the moment.

Below are 7 Campaigns that detail:

  • What the campaign was
  • What the impact was
  • What we can learn
The only parameter for inclusion is that the campaigns must have originated online. I’ve deliberately included big and small budget projects to show that an epic win doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Win 1: Beats by Dre (2012)

beats 2

The Campaign: Beats wanted to make an impact with the launch of their new coloured headphones. With a message focused around individuality, Beats launched a marketing initiative during the 2012 Olympics.

Without an official sponsorship deal, they delivered custom headphones to high profile athletes. Massive social media coverage ensued. Fans were also encouraged to ‘join the movement’ by uploading photos of themselves, typing in a single word that describes them, and choosing a colour of headphones. People that entered had the potential to win money can’t buy prizes.

The Impact: 1.7million new facebook fans. Increase to 80% market share of the premium headphone market in the US. Beats by Dre became the #1 audio brand in the US.

The Learnings:

  • Take risk. There was risk that the brand would be drowned out during the Olympics. There was risk that the company might be sued for guerrilla marketing tactics. Beats took a calculated risk and won.
  • Influencers sell. Leveraging high profile aspirational athletes at the peak of their popularity with their own passionate online communities of social followers helped Beats to spread the message.

 Win 2: Why are Generation Y Yuppies So Unhappy? (2013)

wait but why

The Campaign: A 1500 word article about the problems of being part of generation Y, accompanied by (deliberately ironic) stick men drawings and multi coloured fonts.

The Impact: 535k likes, 7k tweets, 455 LRD’s (versus 93 LRD’s to their homepage)

The Learnings:

  • Create content that speaks to communities that people associate themselves with. If you’re part of Generation Y then reading this is a no-brainer.
  • Make content easy to engage. Particularly at the start. If you read the Generation Y piece, none of the first 7 paragraphs run to more than 2 lines.

Win 3: Oreo’s Daily Twist Campaign (2012)


The Campaign: To celebrate 100 years of their existence, Oreo’s re-imagined pop culture through the eyes of Oreo. Every day for 100 days they took a pop culture event e.g. Pride and re-imagined it through an Oreo biscuit. Starting with Gay Pride and finishing with a user generated choice, the campaign was a fantastic success.

The Impact: 1m facebook likes. 231m earned media impressions. 4% increase in sales.

The Learnings:

  • Start strong. The Gay Pride Oreo was potentially one of their strongest images. Linking the brand and Oreo’s with that day, when the whole world was watching, was a truly inspired start to the campaign.
  • Be political/topical. If your brand can take the risk to get involved in and show support for a political issue, then social traction is that much easier.
  • Ideas rule. If you strip everything away, this piece is essentially cleverly shaped biscuit pictures!

Win 4: War Against Lazy Stubble (2009)


The Campaign: While breaking into the Indian market, Gillette set their agency the challenge of getting Indian men to shave more often. The agency carried out research that showed a fascinating data point. 77% of women preferred their men shaved, but the majority of men thought they looked cool with Stubble.

Using this insight as the nexus of the project they created ‘The War Against Lazy Stubble’. The campaign (unbranded) was started on facebook, and was picked up by famous Bollywood actresses (paid or not paid, we’re unsure) which then created the press and PR, which ended in a mass shaving event that made it into the Guinness Book of Records.

The Impact: Mach3 sales grew by 500% in India. Market share increased by 400%.

The Learnings:

  • The value of data. People love data points. Arguably this campaign succeeded based on an awesome data insight.
  • Plan the evolution of your campaign. Whether it’s paid media or earned media, it’s your responsibility to keep pushing the campaign. Gillette clearly planned for a sustained media impact.

Win 5: Dr Pepper Status Takeover (2010)

dr pep

The Campaign: The Dr Pepper ‘What’s The Worst That Could Happen’ status takeover was a campaign that truly lived up to its name. Dr Pepper launched the campaign on facebook and asked people to hand over control of their status updates for a chance to win £1000. The more embarrassing the updates you allowed Dr Pepper to post, the more chance you had of winning the £1k.

The Impact: Over 8 week period, Dr Pepper went from 1.2k to 220k facebook likes.

The campaign was a fantastic success. To a point. Unfortunately the campaign ended in disaster after a famous porn star movie ended up on the facebook profile of a 14 year old girl.

The Learnings:

  • Take risk. Are you noticing a theme here?
  • The idea is everything. Dr Pepper built an app and seeded the idea with key influencers, but this campaign lived and died based on the strength of the original idea
  • Manage risk. The reason they got busted could have been predicted and dealt with. (Click here to find out what the quote was.)

Win 6: What Does 200 Calories Look Like? (2008)

200 calories

The Campaign: As part of WiseGeeks continuing aim to educate the internet, they launched a collage of images from peanut butter to broccoli that showed how many calories were in certain foods.

The Impact: 1806 LRD’s to the piece. Covered on Daily Mail, Guardian and Huffpo.

The Learnings:

  • Originality Wins: As recently stated in an excellent post about creative ideation on Moz, the originality of an idea is a key component of a project’s success.
  • Quality titles’win. The intrigue that this title generates will have contributed massively to this piece’s success. In a recent post from newcomer Upworthy on how they go viral, they stated that they write 25 headlines per piece of content they write (check slide 38).

Win 7: Uniqlo Lucky Line (2010)


The Campaign: To promote the Uniqlo sales day, and to encourage people to visit and purchase from their physical stores, Uniqlo created the first ever online waiting line. People were free to join the line, and if they tweeted about it they received a discount coupon for the offline stores.

The Impact: 2.2 million people joined the Lucky Line. Top worldwide trend on twitter. Uniqlo set a single day sales record in Japan of 10 billion yen (£63.5m).

The Learnings:

  • Pre-launch. The campaign launched 10 days before the sales day. Give your campaigns time to build. If they’re not working as you envisaged, you also have the chance to adapt the campaign and get it working.
  • Focus. Uniqlo wanted to get people offline and into stores. Setting yourself specific objectives like that can really help to focus your creative ideation.
  • Incentivise people to take action. People love free stuff.

Hopefully the campaigns above have inspired you to think a little bigger about how you market your business.

So how do you get started?

There are arguably a million different ways. One of the key things that holds us back is risk.

With that in mind, there are 3 things you as a marketer can do to mitigate risk when taking up the 'Change The Game' challenge:

  1.  Think BIG. Start small. (Distilled’s motto, if we had one). Until you’ve proved that you can nail a project there’s no point asking for huge budget or resource. Whether it’s £500 or £500k. Think Big. Then take baby steps to get there.
  2. Accept failure. Internally educating your organisation that marketing plays will fail is absolutely key.
  3. Re-purpose. One practical way to mitigate risk is to take projects that have been successful in other formats/industries and re-purpose them for your industry. If it’s worked in other geographies, markets and formats, then it’s likely to work again for you.

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