Updated: Jun 30, 2021
Because of the impact, they had on the brand's growth, and because they struck on some absolute standard that allows us to remember these campaigns years after they initially began. Some of us may not have even been born when these advertisements first aired.
Without further, they are as follows, 10 of the greatest advertising of all time, and the lessons we can take from them.
Nike: Just Do It
The ad did you know that Nike's product used to be almost entirely geared toward marathon runners? Then, a fitness fad evolved, and Nike's marketing team realized they needed to capitalize on it to outperform its primary competition, Reebok. (At the time, Reebok outsold Nike in terms of shoe sales.) As a result, Nike launched the "Just Do It." campaign in the late 1980s.
It was a big hit.
Nike's revenues were $800 million in 1988; by 1998, sales had surpassed $9.2 billion. "Just Do It." was simple and quick, yet it encompassed everything people felt while exercising - and it still does today. Don't feel like running five miles? Simply do it. You don't want to climb four flights of stairs? Simply do it. It's a slogan to which we can all relate: the desire to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones.
When deciding how to best promote your brand, consider this: What problem are you solving for your customers? What is the solution provided by your product or service? By addressing that central issue in all of your messaging, you will connect with consumers on an emotional level that will be difficult to ignore.
Coke: Share a Coke
When a company is already so large, it can be difficult to do something novel. So, how did Coca-Cola reach out to the masses? By placing their names on each bottle, they were able to appeal to individuals.
In 2011, Coca-Cola launched the Share a Coke campaign in Australia, personalizing each bottle with the 150 most popular names in the country. Since then, the United States has followed suit, printing first names in Coke's distinctive font on the front of its bottles and cans. On Coke's website, you can even order personalized bottles with nicknames and college logos.
It was a ground-breaking event in the marketing and advertising industries. Many customers were captivated by it, while others were perplexed – why make a transient thing so personal? Pepsi even ran counter-ads immediately after the campaign began.
Nonetheless, it drew immediate attention to Coke.
Coke fans are frequent customers, and the company leaned into that notion of individual ownership with full force. Wondering what name you'll get out of the vending machine was a great thrill in and of itself - even if it isn't yours, it encourages you to "share a Coke" with whoever’s name is on the front.
KFC: "FCK" (2018)
The advertisement above isn't just an empty bucket of KFC with the company's initials scrawled all over it. It's also not your typical, unprompted fried chicken advertising.
This ad is an apology, and it's possibly the most creative one ever.
KFC's UK operations ran out of chicken in February 2018. You read that correctly: a poultry company ran out of chickens. It's not every day that a corporation encounters the most ironic PR crisis in company history, so when it does, all eyes are on the company's answer. We're delighted to announce that KFC landed safely.
KFC used the creative agency Mother London to design a full-page ad in Metro, the United Kingdom's newspaper, rearranging its three iconic initials to create a funny, albeit explicit, and response to its supply scarcity. The advertisement shows a KFC bucket with the word "FCK" written on it, as if to say, "FCK, this is embarrassing." (You may substitute the missing letter...) Underneath this design, the corporation apologizes for what it recognizes to be an unacceptable, though not mildly amusing, failure.
No business is above heartfelt apologies. And if you can laugh at yourself while you're doing it, you'll only make it better. KFC's advertisement exemplifies how to blend humility, class, comedy, and, ultimately, business pride in a message that can help you recover from negative headlines — and even come out with a net-positive result for your brand.
With these commercials in mind, consider your brand identity, brand story, and the aspects that are most important to your ideal consumer. This is the foundation of an effective marketing plan.
Google: Year in Search
This isn't the oldest or most well-known advertisement on our list, but it's become the most effective in its nine-year (and counting) run. It's so compelling and real that you forget it's an advertisement.
Year in Search debuted in 2009 as "Zeitgeist," a written summary of the public's most popular Google searches during the preceding year. Google repurposed it for a three-minute film the following year. Since, it's served as a bold, yearly reminder of how much we rely on Google for information on breaking news and events that cause the entire globe to pause. Above is the company's most recent video from 2021.
Remind your customers how much you admire the fact that they care. These stories trigger a multitude of emotions but ultimately connect everyone — no matter what Google products they might prefer — via an uplifting message of how our usage of the firm represents the best in all of us.
Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle
even though its bottle has no distinguishing shape, Absolut has made it the most identifiable bottle in the world. Its campaign, which featured print ads of bottles "in the wild," was so successful that it ran for another 25 years. It is the world's oldest continuous ad campaign, with over 1,500 unique ads. If it isn’t broke, don't fix it, I suppose.
Absolut had a meager 2.5 percent share of the vodka market when the campaign began. Absolut was importing 4.5 million cases of vodka per year before it halted in the late 2000s, accounting for half of all imported vodka in the United States.
No matter how boring your product looks, it doesn't mean you can't interestingly tell your story. Let me repeat: Absolut created 1500 ads for one bottle. Be determined and differentiate your product in the same way.
Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
The very first part of Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy and launched in February, was the following commercial. It became a viral success practically overnight:
As of this posting, that video has received over 51 million views. Several months later, in June, Old Spice released another commercial using the same actor, Isaiah Mustafa. Mustafa rapidly earned the moniker "Old Spice Guy," which Wieden + Kennedy seized on with an interactive video campaign in which Mustafa answered fans' comments on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms with short, personalized movies.
In just two days, the company had produced 186 individualized, scripted, and quite amusing video comments showcasing Mustafa reacting to admirers on social media. According to Inc, these videos had about 11 million views, and Old Spice attracted approximately 29,000 new Facebook fans and 58,000 new Twitter followers.
"We were developing and distributing customized micro TV commercials back to specific consumers on a rapid-fire basis," Jason Bagley, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy and a writer for the campaign, told Inc. "Nobody expects to pose a question and then have it answered. That's where I believe we broke through."
If your campaign has acquired momentum among your fans and followers, do everything you can to keep them engaged while being true to your brand's voice and image.
McDonald’s is one of the most well-known fast-food brands in the world due to its thorough approach to advertising and marketing. The food and beverage company employs a combination of internet, print, and TV commercials to promote their product offering, which appeals to a large audience. With McDonald’s trademark Golden Arches and mascot, Ronald McDonald, their corporation successfully differentiates their brand from competitors.
McDonald's is largely regarded as a pioneer in brand projection through marketing and advertising. While McDonald's uses a variety of agencies for co-op advertising, Leo Burnett Worldwide is their largest record agency. Burnett, who is famed for his imaginative advertising, has brought McDonald's to the #1 rank for influential advertisements.
Clairol: Does She or Doesn't She?
When Clairol originally asked this question in 1957, the response was 1 to 15 – as in, only 1 in 15 people used artificial hair color. According to TIME Magazine, the answer was 1 of 2 just 11 years later. According to reports, the campaign was so popular that several jurisdictions stopped asking women to indicate their hair color on their driver's licenses. When your ad campaign begins to affect changes at the DMV, you know you've struck a nerve.
Clairol did the polar opposite of what most marketers would do: they didn't want every woman on the street claiming to use their product. They wanted women to understand that their product was so good that no one could tell whether or not they were using it.
Sometimes merely explaining how and why your product works are sufficient for customers. Showing rather than explaining becomes more effective.
De Beers: A Diamond is Forever
The most famous slogan of the twentieth century was De Beers' "A Diamond is Forever." But the campaign, which claimed (pun intended) that no marriage would be complete without a diamond ring, wasn't simply piggybacking on an existing industry. De Beers created the industry by presenting the notion that a diamond ring was a required luxury.
N.W. Ayer's strategy, according to the New York Times, was to "create a situation in which practically every person promising marriage feels obligated to obtain a diamond engagement ring."
Advertising can make a low-cost item appear opulent and necessary.
Procter & Gamble: Thank You, Mom (2012)
You wouldn't expect a commercial for a home and cleaning supplies firm to tug at your heartstrings like that, would you? However, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has recently developed some of the best advertisements in the consumer products business.
That's because P&G found the narrative behind the story of Olympic competitors — the stories of the loving mothers who pushed these world-class athletes their entire lives building up to that momentous day. Yes, they had to do a lot of laundries and cleaning along the road, presumably with P&G products.
Tear up your audience (just kidding). Your ad's season or period is important. However, even if you run an ad during the Olympics, as P&G did, make sure it has endurance and a message that can influence people regardless of when or where they see it.
Emotional and nostalgia marketing are great tools for persuading people to buy, so if there's a larger, more universal tale behind your product or story, tap into it – and put it front and center.