Marketing in 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, we review the biggest marketing news from the past 12 months...
Rewind back to January 2019, when it all started with a single egg.
We can't get through this one without laughing.
In case you live under a rock, the year kicked off with a single stock photo of a perfect egg (yes, like the ones you'd eat for breakfast) which smashed the world record for the most amount of likes on Instagram.
Up until this point, Ms. Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters and "self-made" beauty mogul, held the record for the most amount of likes - at over 18M - which was a photo of the new baby she'd managed to keep very, very well-hidden up until the birth.
The egg, now with its own Wikipedia page (seriously), was revealed to be part of a mental health awareness campaign. His name is Eugene, who subsequently "cracked after feeling the pressure" of all the attention it's received. Almost a year later and the account still has 7.5M followers and claims to be "on a digital detox".
Scrambled or fried?
February brings advertising's Olympics; the Super Bowl.
This is still centre stage for the world's biggest brands to pull out their big guns. Our favourite is from Amazon, "Not Everything Makes The Cut", for Alexa.
This piece of advertising refreshingly mocks the brand in a funny and very relatable way. They understand their audience and have tapped into the real, everyday experiences people have with Alexa, to create this ad. Click on the image below to watch (opens in a new tab):
Ouff, now we get to the really good stuff.
Nike, champions of great advertising, coincided their "Dream Crazier" ad with International Women's Day this year.
Building on the already monumental piece, "Dream Crazy" featuring Colin Kaepernick, this powerful video demonstrates the seemingly "crazy" feats that female athletes have taken on over the years, and challenges them to do more. Narrated by athlete superstar and businesswoman, Serena Williams - this is a must-watch:
British high street retailer, Lush, grabbed headlines as they announced their decision to shut down their social media accounts (*gasp!*)
In a statement, they said that they will instead direct customers to its website, email, and phone line for one-on-one conversations, while also increasing its emphasis on influencer marketing over social.
With the rising costs of advertising on social media, the noisy nature of the space, and brands at the mercy of their coders algorithm changes, it's easy to understand the questioning of these platforms. But, to take such a bold step like this? Wow.
Many half-criticised the move as simply being "a PR stunt", but, eight months on, they've stuck to their word and the press buzz has since calmed down
Well into the fourth wave of feminism now and with International Women's Day this year more like a month-long extravaganza, NatWest made the brave decisions to roll out a female-focused campaign in partnership with Stylist, featuring an apology by "Mr. Banker" for being patronising to women over the years - complete with a bouquet of money roses.
Whilst we understand their intentions, the ad failed to land and received quite a bit of online backlash, with one commentator expressing on Twitter:
"So the visuals of the apology is a bunch of ‘I’m sorry’ flowers with this month's allowance in them? Break the stereotype by reinforcing it? But without realising? A whole new level of mansplaining inception #natwest #stylist"
Lesson learnt: if you're going to step into a sensitive topic that affects a lot of people on a human's right topic, you better do it well, otherwise it's not just your name that gets slandered on Twitter!
If the Super Bowl is the Olympics of advertising, then in June, the Cannes Lions Festival is the industry's Oscars. We're talking awards, big parties, glamorous yachts... Heck, we'd rather be wining on the Croisette than on the red carpet in Hollywood! (Maybe).
As the world's best creativity gets submitted for Cannes Lions awards, we are of course spoilt for choice. But we're forcing ourselves to share just one highlight from all the candidates, and it goes to Burger King for their brilliant "Whopper Detour" campaign, which won a Grand Prix in both the Direct and the Mobile categories.
The very cheeky, yet very clever ad followed Burger King's successful "underdog" style - quite physically stealing McDonald's customers right from their locations. We're not kidding! The clever guys in the BK tech team geofenced McDonald's Restaurants around the US, and notified their customers of the 1¢ Whopper via the app, providing directions to their nearest Burger King outlet.
As a team, we are quite a fan of CMO Fernando Machado, so maybe we're subconsciously supporting him here too, but here you go. Read more on AdAge via the image link below:
In July we saw millennial fashion reseller platform, Depop, do influencer marketing a little differently...
Depop collaborated with the very digital influencer, Lil Miquela. (For those of you unfamiliar with Miquela Sousa a.k.a. Lil Miquela, she is a virtual influencer who began as an Instagram profile back in 2016). Depop released an exclusive collaboration with her brand Club 404 and LA-based tattoo collective Soto Gang, with all proceeds donated to RAICES.
Thanks to David Attenborough, the awareness and education about plastic pollution has now effected change in the big companies, too. In August 2019, Tesco used their size for good use and announced a ban on brands that use excessive packaging. As part of their “Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle” plan, Tesco now reserves the right to refuse to sell products that use inappropriate packaging. Go Tesco!
KitKat and "premiumisation"
In September 2019, the Nestle owned confectionery brand looked to their Japanese business for the release of a luxury version of the chocolate - creating a bespoke, artfully hand-crafted KitKat at £14. (Normal RRP can start from as low as 50p).
The "premiumisation" trend sees a luxe version of an existing product in a brand's portfolio, in a bid to increase sales as well as build on their brand positioning, however this was a case that went one finger too far...
We started the year with an Instagram world record, and nine months later we saw another one smashed, by none other than Jennifer Aniston, who finally joined the platform (10 years after it was created, whaaa) and hit 1M followers in a cool 5 hours and 16 minutes.
At the time of writing she now has over 21M followers.
Seems like she has enough people who'll be there for her.
Quite a lot seemed to have happened in the month of October actually, so we need to squeeze in another marketing highlight from this time of year, which we just LOVED:
AirBnB is the king of brand partnerships. They have successfully collaborated with Qantas, Vice, Pantone, Dunkin Donuts, and even Marnie the dog (see more here) - but our favourite has to be the golden nugget they pulled out the bag in October 2019.
In collaboration with BARBIE, AirBnB literally created the Malibu Dreamhouse:
Promoted as a competition, one lucky winner and up to four of their friends got to stay in the Barbie Dreamhouse for two nights at just $60, to celebrate the doll's 60th birthday.
"With panoramic ocean views and beachy, glamorous decor, the home is a larger-than-life recreation of Barbie's signature style and hospitality," said Airbnb.
Forget Facebook: meet FACEBOOK.
The western world's largest social media network has been through the wringer recently, to put it one way. So how to solve this? Rebrand of course!
Facebook's rebrand saw the biggest creative upheaval the business has ever had since it's humble beginnings 15 years ago. The new corporate logo, which sits behind the various products in their portfolio (most notably Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus outside of the Facebook app itself) uses a sans-serif, all-caps, and multi-coloured typographic design - meant to convey clarity and openness.
Whilst we can most definitely accept the modernised new logo, we can't help but question the delivery - not to mention journalists refusing to follow the all caps rule in their coverage.
We can't talk about marketing in December without mentioning Christmas ads now, can we? Except here there's no John Lewis, Aldi, or IKEA in sight.
No, this year's best Christmas ad cost just £100 to make and is for a family-run hardware store in Wales... Watch below:
Sure, we're supporters of small businesses, but this ad really stands for itself; the budget used and the resources available is an added bonus in demonstrating an uncomfortable truth to the big boys spending £7m every year on their own yawn-fests.
The overall trends this year show two big themes;
The first is the debate in marketing regarding social media. We've seen that Instagram is still going strong (despite the woes its re-branded parent company faces), with continued growth and two records broken this year. But, for the first time since these networks came about, we're also seeing a big brand step away from this arena completely, making it all the more interesting when thinking about the future of these platforms.
The second strong theme we've seen is creative messaging that is powerfully emotive that's activist or daring in nature. Done right, this cuts through the noise and creates something powerful that really resonates with people and gets them talking. If they miss the mark, they seriously miss the mark.
We hope you enjoyed our round-up of the biggest marketing news in 2019. We look forward to seeing how the world of marketing evolves in 2020 and the next decade (more Serena, less plastic!)