School is now in session and yes, marketing for 2017’s back-to-school season began earlier than ever this year—campaigns from Office Depot and Lands’ End started as early as mid-June before many students even finished their final exams. Compared with 2016, back-to-school TV commercials did not begin airing until mid-July. While marketers are pushing their brands, products and tech earlier and earlier each year, we get even more time to analyze the effectiveness of each campaign.
Here are four notable campaigns from this year’s back-to-school season, plus one classic ad that’s always relevant.
Using YouTube influencers and Snapchat to reach their target audience, the furniture brand enlisted pop music/web comedy stars Superfruit to promote their college dorm products through interactive videos. With Superfruit hosting, the ads utilize Snapchat’s vertical-video ads that let users to “swipe up” to play clips and answer quiz questions around their home décor tastes to find the right IKEA products for them. Once you’ve completed the quiz, you can then click through to IKEA’s website to buy the products featured in the video.
By using influencers to reach their target audiences on a medium they regularly interact on, IKEA created a targeted, engaging and interactive campaign that puts their products top-of-mind for the people most interested in them.
Hewlett-Packard is attempting some serious appeals to our emotions in this tear-jerking ad based around an evolving parent-child relationship and the transition into adolescence. The product it’s actually advertising, the Sprocket Photo Printer, takes a backseat in the narrative while playing an important role within it.
The ad tells a relatable story for parents and kids and gives everyone else a subtle reminder that there’s a nifty cell phone-sized printer to make the moments you capture even more memorable.
Gap has produced a series of ads for Gap Kids with their “Forward with” theme running throughout. The campaign features four short films that each showcase a different life skill for children to adopt. This spot, entitled “Forward with Kindness”, centres around a reading of Raquel Jaramillo’s book, Wonder (that features a boy born with facial defects who helps his community learn about kindness), to demonstrate “the world wants to be kind.”
This ad is also features a racially diverse group of children including some with facial differences to drive home a message of inclusiveness and acceptance to kids returning to school.
Marks and Spencer
This ad for the British multinational retailer is narrated by a seemingly nervous schoolboy walking into his first day of class. Internally, he confronts the highs and lows of his upcoming school semester in an understated and thoughtful message of self-confidence.
Like Gap’s ad, this commercial does not overtly promote any one particular product but makes use of the brand’s status as a household name to instil feelings of encouragement and self-assurance in viewers.
Bonus ad: Staples
This 1996 Staples commercial is a classic, featuring parents skipping down the aisles singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” in anticipation of their kids returning to school, while they follow sluggishly behind with hanging heads.
Staples has used at least five various iterations of this popular campaign throughout the years, with the most recent version running in 2013.
July was full of new advertisements, some better than others. While the regular car, clothing and beer ads hit our screens, so did some ads that hit a bit harder with a deeper message. These ads take the cake for being the best of July, as not only are they aesthetically-pleasing and attention-grabbing, but the messages they portray are important and well said.
GoldieBlox is a children’s multimedia company that challenges gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. GoldieBlox not only creates inspiring toys, but ads as well. In their latest ad campaign, #BeLikeHer, the ad highlights inspirational women throughout the past year that young girls can look up to. The fun, inspirational ad is one of the best ads of July for obvious reasons.
P&G- “The Talk”
P&G’s latest campaign, ‘My Black Is Beautiful,’ is an attempt to start stronger conversations about racism and discrimination. The ad is so effective because the intimate conversations the parents and their children are sharing about racism show the hard conversations that are necessary due to discrimination. The eye-opening ad is hopefully successful in starting conversations and opening peoples’ eyes to racial biases.
Twitter: ‘#SheInspiresMe: Denice Frohman Sets the Stage’
Twitter released a video campaign this month called #SheInspiresMe. The video showcases Poet Denice Frohman performing her poem on inspiring women. The ad only runs a minute long, but is effective in showing an array of women posing during the powerful poem. Quick and effective, much like an Apple ad.
Prego: Welcome To The Family | First-Generation College Students
Prego released this touching ad right in time for students who are getting ready for their first year of college. Seeing as some first-generation college students may not have the same support system as others, they tend to feel more alone than their peers. Prego welcomed first-generation college students from San Diego to a ‘family’ dinner to bring them together with fellow students to share a meal and to become a new college family.
Björn Borg: ‘Borg Open – Tennis Across Borders’
With Donald Trump’s infamous promise to build a wall between USA and Mexico, there have been mixed opinions from both countries. Björn Borg’s ad is wondering why nations are separating when they could be learning from each other instead. They created a tennis match on the border to represent an open world where sports can unite, rather than divide, people.
Pride Month and the annual Pride parade was a success in Toronto this year. Thousands of people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, came to the city to join in on the festivities and show their pride. It wasn’t just people showing their pride, but companies as well. Brands that stand with the LGBTQ community in solidarity took Pride Month as an opportunity to show their commitment to supporting the community, as well as using the opportunity to give their brand some positive publicity. Although all of the ads that were made to support equality, some stood out from the rest.
These are the 10 best Pride Month ads of 2017
Nike: Amazon Mother Leiomy for Nike #betrue
In honour of Pride Month, Nike released a video campaign featuring vogue dancing legend, Amazon Mother Leiomy Maldonado aka “the Wonder Woman of Vogue.” The ad shows Maldonado dancing through the streets and with others as an emotional narration by transgender artists Precious Angel Ramirez reads out inspiring questions. Maldonado was the first transgender woman to be on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. This is only one video of a larger “Equality” initiative by Nike.
Mercedes-Benz Canada: Painted with Love #LoveTransforms
Mercedes-Benz Canada celebrated Pride Month in Toronto this year with art. The campaign told the story of LGBTQ people who have been affected by abuse and hate speech. One Torontonian, Daniel Malen, had his home vandalized with a homophobic slur, which inspired the #LoveTransforms campaign. Mercedes-Benz unveiled and documented a mural on a warehouse at Dovercourt and Dupont. The mural is full of bright colours and positive messages. It was quite successful as tons of Torontonians posted the mural on social media with #LoveTransforms to spread the message.
TGI Fridays: TGI Pridays
TGI Fridays was the main partner of Oslo Pride this year, Norway’s largest LGBTQ festival. All Oslo-based restaurants transformed from ‘TGI Fridays’ to ‘TGI Pridays.’ Along with the colourful restaurant and brand makeover, the restaurants changed their washrooms to gender-neutral, the menus, uniforms and blankets were all rainbow-coloured and a ‘Pridays Shake’ was created with proceeds going to The Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity.
Terri & Sandy: Barber Polls #StandForTrans
One barber shop wanted to stop discrimination in barber shops and salons, as many transgender men and women face discrimination in these public spots. Barba, a men’s grooming shop, wanted to show their pride this year by creating this ad against transgender discrimination. The shop went even further by offering customers the opportunity to get their hair dyed blue, pink and white (the colours of the transgender flag) for free during Pride.
GoNOLA: “Reverse Parade”
New Orleans was ready for Pride Month months before it actually took place. During Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation ran a reverse Pride parade, which had members of the LGBTQ community walking backwards, removing their costumes, makeup and wedding rings. The idea was to represent progress and as a testament of the city refusing to go back in time and to always stand up for their LGBTQ community.
Equinox: “LGBTQAlphabet: Six Letters Will Never Be Enough”
Equinox perhaps created the most creative ad to celebrate Pride Month this year. The ad grows the definition of “LGBTQA” into the full alphabet with 26 different definitions of ways to communicate who you are. The ad portrays messages of love, support, positivity and of course, pride. The incredible choreography done in the ad is another reason why this ad became one of the top Pride ads of 2017.
Kimpton Hotels: “Let’s Never Stop Dancing”
For more than a dozen years, Kimpton Hotels has been offering hotel deals during Pride. This is the second ad vogue dancer Leiomy Maldonado starred in to support Pride. Maldonado starred in their ads as well as offered dancing classes to visitors. The hotel chain is also making a donation to The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth.
Uber: Whatever Your Road, Ride With Pride
Uber showed their pride with an ad about what Pride means to its partners, drivers and riders. Uber used some well-known members of the LGBTQ community, like makeup YouTuber James Charles, to spread the message. The short ad and their slogan “whatever your road, ride with pride” was a good way to spread a positive message about both Pride and Uber as one of its allies.
Skittles: Give the Rainbow
Skittles capitalized on Pride with a creative ad campaign that stripped skittles and the packaging of all of its colour. The campaign slogan was “during Pride, only one rainbow matters,” which is why they took all the colouring out of the candy and the packaging. It turned out to be a successful and creative campaign that showed the company’s pride for the LGBTQ community.
Lush Cosmetics: Valentines Day
Lush’s campaign was actually for Valentine’s Day, but it caused up such a stir on social media that it was rediscovered during Pride. The campaign consisted of photos of a gay couple and a lesbian couple bathing together in a bath using Lush’s products. After all of the positive messages they received, Lush posted some behind-the-scenes shots of the photo-shoot affirming their commitment to the LGBTQ community with #loveislove.
The world of advertising is fiercely competitive. Brands compete against each other for the highest sales, most popular advertisements and to be the most loved brand overall. Some brands largely ignore their competition and just focus on their own agenda. However, other brands take a slightly more aggressive approach with their advertising. This is how ad wars begin.
Rather than be coy about their competition, these brands use humour and satire to fully call out their competition. These huge brands don’t shy away from getting dirty to outdo their rivals, and from a consumer’s point of view, these are some of the best ads to watch. Ad wars are highly entertaining, they start tons of conversation about the brands online and they create an opportunity for the brand being called out to respond in a creative way. Brands directly calling out their competition is not a new marketing method, yet it seems just as effective now as ever. As social media and digital marketing continue to quickly evolve, ad wars are right there growing alongside technology to make even bigger and better ads.
Here are 5 advertising wars going on right now:
1. EBay vs. Amazon
EBay’s newest ad is starting off their new campaign ‘Fill Your Cart With Color.’ Unlike some other ad wars, Ebay doesn’t actually say or show Amazon’s logo, however, the beginning of the ad is meant to represent one of Amazon’s shipping facilities. With the boring, brown boxes rolling through a bland facility, EBay sharply contrasts the situation by bringing bright, bold colours into their operation. The ad not only snubs Amazon, but shows EBay delivering packages that represent their customers’ passions and individuality. This is the first of an entire campaign that will showcase EBay as a more colourful competitor next to the “beige” Amazon.
2. IKEA vs. Balenciaga
When Balenciaga released their new $2,000 tote bag the internet was quick to react. This was of course because the Balenciaga bag has a strong resemblance to the well-known IKEA bag, known as the FRAKTA. IKEA was quick to react with a print ad, “how to spot an original FRAKTA bag,’ which instantly went viral. Since then, IKEA has been working on a new ad that revolves around the FRAKTA. “The Blue Bag” celebrates the various uses for the FRAKTA around the world. Calling the FRAKTA ‘the hardest working bag in the world,’ is no understatement in this commercial. The low-key snub to Balenciaga is when the voiceover talks about how the FRAKTA is for everyone, no matter how much money you have. “That design, function, and quality shouldn’t be just for a few,” is the punchline, and obviously, the $2,000 Balenciaga bag isn’t for many.
3. Apple vs. Android
Apple is perhaps one of the leaders in ad wars. From 2006 to 2009 they ran their now famous “Get A Mac” campaign, which was a long series of ads explaining why Macs are superior to PCs. Since then, Apple has continued to create ads that directly poke fun at their competition. At the beginning of May, they released their newest string of ads from their ‘Life is easier on an iPhone’ campaign. The three ads quickly point out why an iPhone is better than Android and they are classic Apple: visually appealing, short and effective. They tackle the security, contacts and smoothness of an iPhone all ending in the link “apple.com/switch.” And yes, when you go to the link the site lays out exactly why the iPhone is superior and how you can make the switch from an Android.
4. Coke vs. Pepsi
The rivalry between Coke and Pepsi is legendary. For decades this ad war has raged on with no signs of slowing down. Anyone who has been following this competition was probably on the edge of their seats waiting for Coke’s reply after Pepsi’s massive fail this past April. However, Coke didn’t take the opportunity to deliberately bash Pepsi, as Pepsi did that all by themselves. Two months before Pepsi had released their ad, Coke had just re-released their 2014 Super Bowl ad, ‘Together is Beautiful,’ which highlights inclusivity and a culturally-diverse America. This proved to be great timing as the two were heavily compared. More so, Coke’s newest summer ad, ‘Pool Boy’ again has undertones of inclusivity and equality, in a light-hearted way. Pepsi, your move.
5. Audi vs. BMW
Audi and BMW have consistently gone back and forth taking jabs at each other through their ads. Whether through billboards or commercials, these car companies are not afraid of boldly calling out each other by name in their ads. In Audi’s latest ads they take a stab at the BMW X3 by comparing its performance to the Audi Q5. This isn’t the first time Audi has taken shots at the BMW X3 while promoting the Audi Q5, as the last commercial focused on calling BMW drivers ‘conformists.’ This ad focuses on the Q5 literally leaving the X3 behind because it’s superior in performance, and specifically, speed. This ad is short and sweet, but quickly gets to the point that one car is better than the other.
In 2016 alone, $493 billion was spent on advertising globally. It isn’t a surprise that advertising is a multi-billion-dollar industry when you take into consideration just how many adverts you see in a single day. In 2015, digital marketing experts estimated that Americans were exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads everyday. With the exponential growth of social media, smart phones and digital marketing in the past two years, it’s safe to say that the number of ads we are exposed to daily has only increased.
Because of the mass amount of advertisements we take in everyday, it takes a creative ad to be effective enough to stand out from the rest. So far this year there have been majorly successful ad campaigns, like AXE’s newest campaign, to huge advertising flops…yes, Pepsi, we’re talking about you. The month of May was no exception as we saw thousands of ads, some better than the rest. To be considered one of the best of the month, the ad must be memorable, elicit an emotional response, be aesthetically pleasing, have excellent music and, of course, shine positive light on the brand.
These are our choices for the best five ads from May:
1. “Live for the Story” – Canon
It’s no surprise that a company whose main job is to create top line camera equipment has the ability to create visually-appealing advertisements. However, Canon’s last campaign, ‘Live for the Story,’ is even better than what’s expected. The campaigns motto is “your world grows with each story you have, so live for the story,” which is paired alongside video ads of people living life to the fullest. The ads represent freedom, creativity, art, happiness and love, all alongside a catchy song and stunning visuals. The video is apart of a bigger campaign, ‘Summer for 365 days,’ which asks its audience to share their summer story on Instagram for a chance to win a trip around the world.
2. “#ThankATeacher” – California Lottery
The California Lottery works with schools and teachers across California to support the local education system. Their latest campaign, ‘Back to the Start,’ is about sending native Californians back to their elementary schools to thank their former teachers. This ad shows Venus Williams going back to school to express her gratitude to her first grade teacher. The ad shows a touching moment between former student and teacher; one that is relatable for anyone who has had a remarkable teacher. The ad is successful in drawing attention to the education system and the lottery’s #ThankATeacher campaign.
3. “Recalculating” – Jeep
Jeep’s ad that came out at the beginning of the month held its ground as one of the best of the entire month. Focusing on promoting their new 2017 Compass as a way to guide you, the ad follows people as their lives move in different, new and fast directions. It’s an inspiring ad that encourages people to find new paths and discover new realizations of the world and of themselves, all with the help of the compass guiding you. It’s an interesting take on a car commercial that sends an inspiring message about embracing change.
4. “The Human Billboard” – Le CRAN
Le Conseil Representatif des Associations Noires (le CRAN) is an anti-racism organization in France that published this ad in May to combat the country’s racism problems ahead of the election. After collecting racist insults online, from interviews and through audio testimonials, the ad follows Le CRAN covering a young man’s body in the insults and sending him into the streets. This real-life experiment shows the reactions of the public while the man hands out pamphlets with more information on them. This ad is not only a successful video campaign, but was successful in bringing attention to an ongoing social issue.
5. “Together #WePlayStrong” – Union of European Football Association (UEFA)
Although this ad was released on the last day of May, it made our list of one of the best ads of the month. The visuals, music, production and direction of the video are all very impressive, but another reason why it’s one of the best ads we saw last month? It is the first ever Pan-European campaign aimed at girls that promotes women’s soccer, which alone makes the ad worth watching. The ad is powerful, inspiring and full of encouragement for girls to play soccer.
Social marketing, not to be mistaken for social media marketing, is when a brand combines commercial marketing with a social issue. Typically, a brand’s approach is to portray a positive message in the hopes of persuading its audience to get involved in progressive behaviours that will benefit others and the community, while also associating their brand with the positive message. If successful, a brand shines light on a current social issue and brings favourable attention to themselves.
Highlighting social good not only gives the brand good publicity, but also secures customer engagement, as it gives loyal and new consumers alike a reason to resonate with the brand. From women’s issues to environmental awareness, brands take on a wide variety of issues to distinguish themselves as a socially aware brand. Brands are constantly pushing out new ad campaigns to boost themselves and their social morale. Last week alone, we saw five social marketing ad campaigns that are quite effective in starting a discussion and raising brand awareness.
These are the five most powerful ad campaigns going on right now:
1. #YouHaveRightsNYC – the New York Commission on Human Rights
The New York Commission on Human Rights just launched a $468,000 ad campaign of 2,260 placards on subways and ads in newspapers and in various spots around the city. With the rise of complaints to the commission describing racial and religious discrimination, the city is rolling out this ad campaign to fight against discriminatory behaviour. The ads feature various minorities alongside a quote against discrimination and their rights under the NYC Human Rights Law. This ad campaign is successful in both promoting NYC as inclusive and addressing the social issue of discrimination.
2. #IsItOkForGuys – AXE
As apart of its ‘Find Your Magic Initiative,’ AXE is collaborating with influencers and three non-profit organizations to explore the issue of toxic masculinity. After commissioning a study that found that 72 per cent of men have been told how a real man should behave, AXE created this new ad campaign. Their latest video, ‘Is It Ok For Guys?’ focuses on real questions men have been Googling about masculinity. The powerful ad encourages men to embrace their differences and rise against damaging stereotypes with the final question of “Is it okay for guys to be themselves?” This ad successfully represents AXE as a forward-thinking, inclusive brand, while also shining light on harmful gender stereotypes.
3. #OurVoicesAreVital – Greenpeace
After a multi-million-dollar lawsuit was filed against Greenpeace by Resolute Forest Products last year, the environmental group is striking back with its biggest marketing campaign to date. #OurVoicesAreVital is an ad campaign complete with a social media launch and various videos, which encourage people to use their own voices against corporations that stand in the way of fighitng environmental, social and political issues. The new video shows the positive effects of collective protest through different mediums. Greenpeace is not only bringing attention to their ongoing legal battle, but also giving their own brand some good publicity.
4. #YouKnow – Carefree
‘You know what makes you feel confident’ is the newest collection of videos just launched for Carefree’s ‘No one knows’ campaign, which focuses on women sharing their secrets about having their period. The campaign will rollout across Canada with the hope that women will embrace the vulnerability they feel about their periods. Carefree wants to start a conversation around #YouKnow that ideally will revolve around women sharing their tips, tricks and stories. Carefree’s goal is to represent real female empowerment, with real women and true stories that are relatable, instead of the unattainable ads we usually see. Carefree has highlighted female empowerment, while also labelling themselves as a relatable brand.
5. #BlacksDontVote – Operation Black Vote
Operation Black Vote is an initiative in the UK that works towards having better racial justice and equality. ‘Blacks Don’t Vote’ is their current campaign focused on getting minorities to register and vote to make a difference. 1.4 million black and ethnic minorities didn’t vote in the UK last year and with the election coming up in a few weeks, this group is working towards giving minorities a voice. Right now, 28 per cent of minorities aren’t registered to vote. These simple ads are a plea to get registration numbers up. With this powerful ad campaign, Operation Black Vote is addressing the social issue of the lack of minorities voting, while also gaining traction around their initiative.
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