Compared to 2020, 2021 was a pretty eventful year. Among many other events, we saw the explosion of NFTs, Covid has acted up again, Daft Punk broke up, there was a coup in Myanmar, a massive boat got stuck into the Suez Canal, the 2020 Olympics took place in July 2021 and Facebook and its apps had a global outage for six hours. It was a crazy year for all of us. It was also a very good year for digital marketing. Many brands came up with fun and entertaining campaigns. So here are, in our opinion, 2021's best digital marketing campaigns.
Weetabix ’n’ Beanz Campaign
In February 2021, Weetabix posted what can possibly be considered their most controversial tweet. This tweet composed of a picture of 2 pieces of Weetabix covered in baked beans accompanied by the caption “Why should bread have all the fun, when there's Weetabix? Serving up @HeinzUK Beanz on bix for breakfast with a twist.” caused an absolute stir on the platform.
Twitter users absolutely loved the weird tweet and massively shared, liked and reacted to it. While we are writing these words the post gathered 36.9 thousand retweets, 68.8 thousand quote tweets and 131.6 thousand likes. Pretty good for a picture of beans and Weetabix!
But the best part of this is that well-known brand accounts such as Specsavers, Innocent Drinks and Lidl also took part in the joke by commenting even funnier answers.
For a brand that has been around for as long as Weetabix, creating novelty and excitement for consumers can be difficult. But the success of this mini-campaign shows that creativity and a good understanding of your audience can help generate excitement and interest for pretty much anything.
Zoom Virtual Background Contest
After the first lockdown of 2020, the use of video meeting platforms skyrocketed. The platform to benefit most from this boom is without a doubt Zoom. They managed to capture a huge chunk of the market through their simple and easy-to-use service that even your grandparents understand. They grew so quickly that their brand name became the default term for video conferencing. But in order to keep growing in 2021 they had to do something different. So Zoom’s digital media team came up with the “Zoom’s Virtual Background competition”.
Zoom used social media to ask users to share a picture or video of them using the virtual background feature and make it as funny or interesting as possible. They selected three winners to showcase their websites and gave prizes for creating the most creative and fun content.
This campaign worked very well because, rather than promoting free trials, they used the fact that people were already talking and posting memes about virtual backgrounds and turned it to their advantage.
It is not a secret, the beauty industry can be quite toxic. But with the popularity of social media and the rise of photo editing apps and other beauty filters, it can be very difficult to stay positive about one’s self-image.
Beauty and skincare brand Dove has been campaigning for self-love and diversity for many years, but in 2021, they decided to focus on the immense impact social media can have on people’s perception of themselves.
The brand created the #NoDigitalDistortion with its younger audience in mind. Indeed, young people are constantly exposed to unrealistic injunctions and beauty standards.
For this campaign, Dove created a video illustrating a young woman removing all the editing from a selfie. This video went viral after being shared by many celebrities and influencers all over social media.
Called ‘Reverse Selfie’, it soon went viral with a number of social media influencers and celebrities sharing on Instagram. This campaign resonated with a lot of people as it show light on the struggle many of us have with self-confidence in our increasingly image-focused society.
A brand promoting healthier and more realistic standards is great for both the brand and the consumer as the first is reaps the benefit of a positive image and the latter gets to feel seen and represented.
Reddit Super Bowl
After the pandemic and all the difficulties it brought, the 2021 Super Bowl was even more anticipated than in previous years. Big brands such as Cadillac, Disney and M&M’s put a lot of money and energy into trying to capture the attention of viewers during the halftime show. Celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen were mobilised by brands to advertise the latest and trendiest products. But somehow, the ad that really captured everyone’s attention was a silent, five-second message that appeared and disappeared off the screen so quickly that some thought it was a bug.
This mysterious ad created by a New York based marketing team for the discussion website Reddit became one the most-searched Super Bowl commercials on Google the following Sunday night despite being the opposite of your typical Super Bowl ad. The ad showed a shot of two cars driving through the desert being interrupted by an image of a Reddit post (see image above). The image was later posted on Reddit and caused a stir on social media.
Reddit used its entire marketing budget for this ad, hoping to break the Super Bowl formula and make a lasting impact. According to Roxy Young, Reddit’s chief marketing officer, this ad is: “ultimately a celebration of Reddit communities, and an aptly-timed reminder that when people come together around their passion, powerful things can happen,”. Reddit added that this ad is a demonstration that, “Underdogs can accomplish just about anything when they come together around a common idea.”
This campaign shows the power digital media has acquired in the past few years and how it cleverly redefines even our most anchored media traditions.
Cuthbert the Caterpillar #Freecuthbert
At the beginning of 2021, the supermarket chain Marks & Spencer launched legal action against Aldi for trademark infringement on “Colin the Caterpillar” after Aldi released an eerily similar “Cuthbert the Caterpillar” cake. The whole story could have ended here but Aldi’s social media team saw an opportunity and seized it. Staying loyal to their playful reputation, they launched the #freecuthbert campaign.
They started by tweeting ‘This is not just any court case, this is…#freecuthbert’. Within a few hours, they were trending at number one on Twitter and making headlines. In the next few weeks, #freecuthbert turned into a full-fledged campaign generating amazing engagement. Cuthbert became a real star by appearing on TV, comedy panel shows, memes, parodies, and memorabilia and was mentioned by many celebrities and brands.
Aldi went on to launch a limited edition Cuthbert cake with all profits going to Teenage Cancer Trust, encouraging other supermarkets to join its #CaterpillarsForCancer campaign, turning this whole action into a positive force for the charity.
The genius of this campaign is that through wit and an amazing understanding of social media, Aldi’s talented digital marketing team turned a rather bothersome event into, possibly the best social media campaign of the year. And as a bonus, they completely eclipsed Colin the Caterpillar in the process.