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The best marketing campaigns of 2022

by Khoros staff | Jan 20, 2023

The year 2022 came and went, which means it’s time for a roundup of the year's best marketing campaigns. With this rotation ‘round the sun, the world saw the increased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the opening of international boundaries, as well as growing inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many brands rose to meet new challenges and created campaigns that inspired us, made us laugh, and pushed boundaries — and yes, sold products. We compiled a list of some of the best marketing campaigns of 2022, provided insights into their success, and shared tips on how you can replicate that success for your brand.

1. Kia: Robo Dog

Not every ad on this list was featured in the 2022 Super Bowl, but this one was. And it was a leader of the pack, as it were. Introducing the slogan “Live Fully Charged” and promoting the new All Electric KIA EV6, the ad features a little Robo Dog looking for his forever home.

This campaign is one of those that takes a very simple, relatable, and poignant concept — in this case, pet adoption — and turns it on its robotic, electronic ear. As a result, it manages to get across the idea of purchasing an electric car without being too on the nose. Walking that line takes some finesse since EVs are, like it or not, considered controversial.

In the process, Kia also gained a brand ambassador and supported a cause. Robo Dog was so popular that Kia sold 10,000 Adoption Pass NFTs, with 90% of the proceeds going to Petfinder Foundation, which helps animals find their forever homes.

The Robo Dog ad not only tapped into a heartwarming concept, it did so at an especially apt time, as nearly 1 in 5 households adopted a pet during the pandemic. It may have also tapped into some nostalgia for millennials, still today’s generation with the highest spending power, who may have been reminded of Poo-Chi, the most popular Robot Dog of the 2000s.

Of note, is how crowded the sales space is for electric cars this year. The BMW had another Super Bowl winner with their All-Electric BMW iX commercial featuring Arnold Schwazeneger playing Zeus and Salma Hayek playing Hera. A fantastic French Renault E-Tech Hybrid commercial that actually focuses on alternatives to driving won us over as well.

The result? The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that Q1 sales in 2022 were up 75% from 2021.

Fun fact: Kia is not exactly new to using cute critters to sell their vehicles. Almost anyone who watched TV between the years 2009 and 2017 saw at least one of their many iconic Hamster commercials for selling the Kia Soul. We’re excited to see what this new era brings.

2. Dove: #DetoxYourFeed

Dove’s award-winning Reverse Selfie campaign made our list of top marketing campaigns of 2021, and the brand continued to knock it out of the park in 2022 — so much that we had a hard time picking just one campaign. The #DetoxYourFeed campaign centers around the negative influence that toxic beauty advice can have on young girls.

The ad starts with a series of mothers and daughters sitting down together and talking about what their daughters see on their social media feeds. Most of the mothers are confident that social media is mostly just a fun pastime for their girls. Things take a turn when Dove shows a video that uses AI to put toxic beauty advice directly into the mouths of the mothers.

Hearing and seeing the same advice come out of a mother’s mouth that comes from influencer’s shows how dangerous, misleading, and potentially harmful such advice can be. It also brings home the point that mothers and parents ultimately have a stronger influence over their teens than any influencer can have, underscoring the need to have conversations about what young people are seeing in their feeds.

As with other campaigns in Dove’s Self Esteem Project, products are never featured. In this case, the product is the brand, specifically the way that the customer will feel about the brand after watching the commercial. The next time someone who has seen these videos goes to a supermarket with soap on their shopping list, will they buy the soap from a brand that uses skinny models in their advertisements, or Dove?

David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising, once famously said that, “Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.” These Dove campaigns are a testament to that statement and the power of brands striving to make a positive change.

Other Dove Campaigns of note for 2022 include:

  • #AsEarlyAsFive, which aims to end race-based hair discrimination (shown to start as 5-year-old). In most US states, it’s not illegal. You can sign a petition to end it here.

  • #RealCostofBeauty, which aims to end appearance-based hate and discrimination, a health crisis that costs American $500 billion a year. You can find out more about the campaign here.

3. Nike: 50th Anniversary - Seen it All

Anniversaries provide a unique opportunity for brands to both look back on their past accomplishments and to think about what they want to achieve in the future. For its 50th Anniversary, Nike teamed up with Spike Lee and Indigo Hubbard-Salk to create an ad that pays homage to the legacy of athletes who wore Nike while carving out a space for today’s rising stars.

Seen it All is actually considered a Spike Lee joint, one that reprises multiple relationships and roles. Lee has worked extensively with Nike before. He was involved in the now-iconic It’s Gotta be the Shoes ad series (which received a shout-out in Seen it All), and his Mars Blackmon character wore Air Jordans in Lee’s 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It.

The spot features Lee’s Mars Blackmon character from She’s Gotta Have It pitted (in chess and in a spoken word battle) against Hubbard-Salk’s Zimmie from the recent TV reprisal. It includes footage of more than 40 legendary and present-day Nike athletes, from Michael Jordan to Naomi Osaka. Importantly, the athletes that Zimmie highlights come from a noticeably international crowd and prominently feature female athletes as well.

You may know the legacy of your brand, but customers have likely only seen your achievements in a piecemeal fashion. Creating a campaign that highlights where you’ve been and where you’re going allows you to focus the narrative of your brand in both directions, past and future. Having 50 years' worth of star-studded athletes to sample from certainly helps, but compelling stories have been created with much less.

Speaking of athletes, Nike’s brand has always been showcased best by the athletes who wear their gear. Their best advertisements are, arguably, not adverts at all, but professional athletes actively playing tennis and basketball or skating in their gear. Nike product placement is so embedded in our culture that its celebrity endorsement is easy to overlook. The Seen it All ad gives tribute to those athletes — influencers before influencers were a thing — and their work.

Who are your players on the court? Who are the people who so thoroughly embody your brand that the average person wouldn’t think twice about seeing them represent you? And what would happen if you paid tribute to them?

4. Heineken: The Closer

In our haste to figure out how to return to work after COVID-19, many of us forgot to think about how we return to post-pandemic leisure time. Heineken’s solution? A Bluetooth enabled beer opener called The Closer that can put nearby computers into sleep mode.

This marketing campaign follows workers of all stripes as they fail to disconnect from their work despite the late hour. Fortunately, a nearby coworker, bartender, or friend opens a Heineken with The Closer, and the person’s devices shut down. While the ad is fairly tongue-in-cheek (taking a video work call on your laptop in a bar bathroom is hopefully still a far stretch for most) it still hits on a problem that many workers face on a daily basis.

This grounding in reality saves The Closer from feeling too much like a gimmick. That, and the fact that The Closer product itself was only sold for a very limited amount of time. “Don’t have the closer? Be the closer” their dedicated The Closer page says, providing simple examples of ways for you to become your own Closer in your day-to-day life.

But Heineken took it a step further, using their environment as a clever way to advertise. To promote The Closer, they traveled around New York City, identifying office buildings where people were working late. When they found one, they projected an image on the building that called attention to the situation, turning late workers into… well, advertisements for not working late. When you think about brands that have your well-being at heart, beer brands aren’t typically the first thing that comes to mind—but maybe Heineken can change that.

The Closer campaign is the first in an overarching campaign entitled "For a Fresher World." It follows their popular Shutter Ads campaign that helped bring over 7.5 Million Euros to over 5,000 bars that shuttered during the pandemic. All of them re-opened.

5. Hellman’s: Mayo Tackles Food Waste

The American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that the average North American household wastes 31.9% of the food it obtains. In an act of advertising genius, Hellmann’s teams up with former NFL linebacker Jerod Mayo to “tackle” food waste.

You don’t have to care about football to enjoy watching Jerod Mayo run rampant through American households, tackling would-be food wasters and advising them on what foods they could make with that slightly stale bread or leftover spinach. It’s an absolutely delightful concept using the right celebrity to endorse it (and thus infinitely more successful than their similar ad last year ft. Amy Schumer).

As with many of these other commercials, mayo might not be the featured product, but rather, the cause it’s bringing attention to. Hellman’s has committed to helping the UN reach its Sustainable Development goal of reducing food waste by 50% in 2030. The ad is part of their #MakeTasteNotWaste campaign. 

The best marketing campaigns of 2022 honorable mentions:

Apple: 911 Apple Watch Calls

Make the most of your next marketing campaign with Khoros

From tapping into consumer desire to be delighted to tugging at our heartstrings to telling the truth in an industry where toxic advice runs rampant, today’s best marketing campaigns continue to surprise us with their creativity and ingenuity.

Yet one thing that all of these recent marketing campaigns have shown us is that no matter where your campaign takes place (OOH, events, print, digital, etc.), it generates buzz online, specifically through social media. Social media provides brands with the opportunity to share campaigns with audiences everywhere — even ones that may not be directly affected by the campaign. As the world of social media cecomes increasingly expansive, keeping up requires a good deal of strategy and effort.

Khoros provides brands with powerful social media management tools and processes. Our comprehensive and united social customer care, social marketing, and social listening services provide brands with empowering, accessible insights that encourage customer engagement, promote the creation of meaningful content, and accelerate and improve ROI.

Start 2023 ahead of the competition. Read our Social Media Pocket Guide and request a Khoros demo today.

A look back at past years

Best marketing campaign of 2021

1. Dove’s reverse selfie

In April 2021, Dove launched their “Reverse Selfie” campaign, which aims to combat the negative effects of selfie culture on young girls and women. Research suggests that by the age of 13, 80% of girls distort the way they look online — and Dove’s campaign remarks on how this digital distortion can damage self-esteem and why it needs to change.

The campaign shows the digital distortion process in reverse, then encourages people to have #TheSelfieTalk to promote confidence and body positivity on social media. The campaign is a spiritual successor to the brand’s iconic 2006 film “Evolution”, and is also connected to their larger Self Esteem Project featuring a dedicated webpage with information and resources for parents and teachers along with an option to take a #NoDigitalDistortion pledge. To top it off, Dove has partnered with iconic women including Lizzo, Shonda Rhimes, and others to address digital distortion and “stamp out unrealistic beauty standards.”

Although the campaign never shows or advertises the brand’s products, they’ve received widespread praise from the press and public as a result of the conversations it’s started. The takeaway here is that a campaign doesn’t always have to be product-focused, message-driven marketing can be just as effective for brands.

Best marketing campaign of 2020

Facebook’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial

For the first time ever, Facebook aired a commercial during the Super Bowl. The 60-second ad aired during the fourth quarter and promoted Facebook Groups. The ad, called “Ready to Rock?” featured celebrity appearances from actor Sylvester Stallone and comedian Chris Rock, as well as highlighting several “rock” themed Facebook Groups, including Table Rock Lake, Moab Rock Climbers, Rock Buggies, and Rocky Balboa Going the Distance.

The quirky commercial drew a lot of praise for its fun play on words and including real people who are members of the featured Facebook Groups.

In recent years, the social media giant has seen a decrease in U.S. usage rates while other social media networks have gained popularity. So this commercial was a great way to renew interest in their platform and highlight features that may not have been as popular when more people were using the network.

This ad is also a great example of targeting. If Facebook was concerned about decreased usage in the U.S. market, what better way to reach Americans than to advertise during the most-watched event of the year?

The takeaway for brands from Facebook’s 2020 Super Bowl marketing campaign is that advertising in new places or on new platforms can help your business reach a wider audience.

Best marketing campaign of 2019

Budweiser revisits its 50s, 60s, and 70s ads

In honor of International Women’s Day, Budweiser released a series of vintage-styled ads highlighting positive depictions of women. Appreciating their own metaphorical glass house, the brand returned to their own ads from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Instead of characterizing women as wives, and ultimately aiming to sell Budweiser to their husbands, this campaign instead focuses on the storylines of women.

When looking to improve your brand image, identifying where you have fallen short in the past is a pathway to reinvention. Ultimately, by adjusting their image, Budweiser showed they are not a beer for men, rather a beer for people. As a result, they have positioned themselves to become more appealing to more audiences.

Best marketing campaign of 2018

OKCupid’s DTF(all head over heels) campaign

With their controversial “DTF” ad campaign, OkCupid took a risk by redefining the acronym:

But the risk paid off, as Adweek reports the campaign boosted OkCupid’s social mentions by 50%, and it resonated with women and the LGBTQ+ community. Even though the ads weren’t welcome everywhere (like the entire Chicago Transit Authority), OkCupid demonstrated the effectiveness of disruptive marketing.

Campaigns that appeal to social media users won’t always appeal to the boardroom, but that’s okay. Even though OkCupid couldn’t run their ads everywhere, their campaign still had a huge impact that resonated with their target audiences.

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