Most iconic marketing campaigns and how you can replicate them


Coming up with an innovative marketing campaign is tough for any company. You need something fresh, bold and memorable — but those aren’t easy to plan and fund.

To help inspire your next marketing campaign no matter what size business you are, here’s a selection of unforgettable marketing campaigns — and reasons why they achieved such incredible success!

Think Small

Although a globally respected brand today, back in 1960s’ USA, Volkswagen sales were low. During this era in the US, people wanted big cars. So, how did the compact Volkswagen Beetle deal with this setback? By playing into the audience’s hands. Volkswagen created banners and newspaper ads with lots of white space to highlight the compact feature of its vehicles. So, when other car brands were packing their ads from border to border with copy, colour and imagery; Volkswagen stood apart from the crowd and was noticed for its ingenuity and honesty — its cars were small, and that’s what it told you.

What can you learn from the campaign?

Truth and honesty are considered by many members of the public as novelties when it comes to advertising. Highlight, don’t hide, what makes your product or service different. Advertising has a tendency toput an unrealistic spin on reality, so any brand that focuses on honesty is sure to achieve credibility.

Real Beauty

Founded in 1955, Dove has been a go-to brand for many consumers looking for quality personal care items for decades. However, it was 2004 that saw the brand come to the forefront of people’s minds with its incredible marketing campaign. A series of outdoor banners and ads were designed around a social experiment, where a sketch artist — who’d been trained by the FBI — was asked to draw two images of a woman: the first as she described herself and the second as a stranger described her. The outcome was that these images looked completely different, and Dove combined this result with thestatistic that a mere 4% of women find themselves attractive to create a hugely successful marketing campaign that truly resonated with its audience.

Dovecaused a debate about female beauty standards that went viral across digital media by releasing a series of banners and billboards portraying regular women next to contradictory checkboxes for the viewer to choose between (e.g. ‘wrinkled or wonderful’ and ‘fat or fit’). Dove’s advertising strategy was insightful, inspiring and sensitive; encouraging women to see themselves in a different light. To date, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has been seen in around 110 countries.

What can you learn from the campaign?

This campaign showed an amazing level of target consumer knowledge. Dove knew who its audience was and pinpointed a widespread issue affecting them. Focusing on a real problem, it turned a negative into something positive, which not only helped women feel better about themselves, but also reflected positively on the brand.

Got Milk?

If you want inspiration for advertising and marketing, the USA is one of the world’s leading countries in this department. One of its best example, the Got Milk? campaign, consisted of images depicting celebrities with milk moustaches next to the tagline ‘Got Milk?’, the campaign boosted milk sales in California by 7% within its first year. The success of the campaign in the Golden State meant that the strategy started breaking borders, and soon Got Milk? posters and banners were spotted in stores and on highways across the country before moving to television and the internet. It’s worth noting that, Got Milk? wasn’t created to target new milk drinkers — instead, the campaign focused on speaking to people who already were consuming the product.

What can you learn from the campaign?

If your sales have dropped, you need to look at retargeting your key demographic. So, your marketing strategy could be aimed at reconnecting with customers. The Got Milk? strategy is just one example of how even everyday items can be injected with humour (i.e. the milk moustache) and glamour (i.e. use of celebrities).

Just Do It

Nike is one of the most popular sportswear brands on the planet. However, back in the 1980s, the company’s sales weren’t performing incredibly well — enter one of the most memorable marketing campaigns: Nike’s Just Do It strategy.

‘Just Do It’ launched in 1988 and took off almost immediately. The famous ‘Just Do It’ famous slogan was soon seen on banners and billboards everywhere. Why? Because it was clear, concise and emotive. Can’t be bothered to run? Just do it. Don’t think you can handle an hour at the gym? Just do it. Within ten years of its launch, the campaign had boosted Nike sales from $800 million to $9.2 billion — all due to a tagline thought up in around 20 minutes.

What can you learn from the campaign?

This campaign hinged on its tagline. ‘Just Do It’ was seen on various banners depicting a range of sports people performing multiple exercises, and it was mainly the slogan, not the media accompaniments, that led the campaign.

If you want to copy the best of this marketing strategy, invest some of your budget in banners, posters and billboards, so that your slogan won’t vanish until it’s taken down (unlike video or other types of advertising).  If you want this type of success, perhaps adopt this strategy by concentrating on a solid slogan — that encapsulates your brand and speaks directly to your core audience — and building out from there.

Absolut Bottle

Absolut showed the world how the simplest idea could cause an incredible response. Fundamentally, this strategy consisted of banners, billboards and ads portraying an Absolut bottle outline in various real images. This included a Christmas advert depicting a woman carrying stacks of gifts in a bottle formation (tagline: ‘Absolut 24th’) and an aerial shot of NYC’s Central Park shown with an added section at the top to create a bottle neck and cap shape (tagline: ‘Absolut Manhattan’).

This strategy was no flash in the pan either — Absolut used it for around 50 years. Before it, the brand had less than 3% of the vodka market in the US and by the end, its name was on the label of half of all the country’s imported vodka.

What can you learn from the campaign?

If you think you need a fancy idea to make a good marketing campaign, Absolut shows that you just need to use your imagination instead. Really look at your products and see how you can incorporate the feel, look and shape of them into your campaign. Large outdoor banners and billboards offer the opportunity to capitalise on colours, textures and silhouettes to turn something simple into something intriguing. So, pick your brand apart and diversify what you have.

Use these examples or mix them together to inspire your next campaign.


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