With another year nearly over, we wanted to look back at creativity in 2022 and how it was used by different brands and across different channels in marketing, for better or for worse.
The past year has seen Digital PR agencies move away from uninspired ‘Dream Job’ campaigns (campaigns where job postings have been created to offer money for trialling a brand’s new product for the primary purpose of getting news coverage) and towards genuine advice for consumers, like money saving hacks or how to not be the Harold Shipman of house plants. We saw the rise of AI and how it was leveraged by brands and also a step up in quality of Out Of Home (OOH) with some simple but great use of good old fashioned copy.
On the flipside, we also saw a lot of greenwashing and blatant attempts by brands to cover their tracks for being wrong’uns. There were misguided attempts by brands at inserting themselves into conversations they had no business in and then there’s whatever is going on with Pretty Little Thing’s Twitter account…
Let’s get into it.
The Best and Worst Creative Campaigns of 2022
British Airways – A British Original
This campaign, created by Uncommon Studios, plays on the ‘what is the purpose of your visit?’ question travellers face on landing, looking into the stories that don’t simply fall into the ‘Business’ or ‘Leisure’ options. There were 500 different versions of the ad that appeared in print, digital and outdoor ads for the airline across the UK.
What makes these great is the simplicity and minimal design, letting the copy do the work and not shying away from white space. They showed a playful side to the brand too with the 500 different answers they created, which ranged from ‘Marriage CPR’ to ‘Identity crisis’.
This campaign split opinion amongst adland with some claiming that it doesn’t work because it doesn’t show the product. Others disagree and say it’s a hit because the copy is that good, it simply doesn’t need to show images of people taking flights, to which I agree. A campaign should be about the audience you are marketing towards – people over planes.
EE – Not Her Problem
Back in July, EE launched their ‘Hope United’ campaign in conjunction with the UEFA Women’s Football Championship. Instead of just shining a light on the tournament’s players, they decided to raise awareness of the inevitable sexist hate that was coming their way. This was a massive integrated campaign encompassing Above The Line (ATL) adverts, digital PR and influencers across social marketing channels.
Aside from the obvious cause it was getting behind, the best part of the campaign was the beautifully shot video that pulled no punches in visualising what these athletes go through – on and off the pitch – in order to get to the top of their sport. EE could have shied away from this, but they used the opportunity to show a side of the women’s game we don’t see, while simultaneously raising awareness of a bigger problem and presenting the solution at the same time.
They weren’t the only brand to use their platform to fight something bigger than themselves, but in 2023 I expect to see a lot more of this type of campaign. Brands should be looking to identify issues in their industry and attempt to do something about it. Create content that matters or fights to change something and you’ll find your audience will want to come with you.
BrewDog – The World F*Cup
The ‘World F*Cup’ campaign from BrewDog split opinion, especially in the ad industry. Some said it was brilliant, others said it was disingenuous. The campaign aimed to be the ‘anti-sponsor’ of the FIFA world cup, raising awareness of human rights violations in Qatar. This isn’t the first time the beer brand has thrown their weight behind a cause, but launching a campaign that claims to fight for human rights seems a bit rich when not too long ago their own employees threw the company right under the bus for mistreatment of staff. To add to this, it was revealed that BrewDog was not only showing the tournament in their pubs, but also selling their product in Qatar.
I’ve been back and forth with this in my own mind to work out if this was a great stunt or simply did more damage to a brand that didn’t look great to begin with. In the end, it didn’t get the cut through that BrewDog desired, but those who noticed, were not impressed. People want more and more transparency and authenticity from the brands they buy from – check out our blog post on the subject. Consumers are becoming more savvy to these practices.
Greenwashing was a big topic this year in marketing and we have seen other brands get burned from trying to look more ethically sound than they are. Most people will see through any type of stunt, especially if you’re already under scrutiny for doing the thing you’re trying to ‘raise awareness’ about.
The Best and Worst Creative Campaigns of 2022
To end on a high, I wanted to shout out some individual campaigns that flew under the radar but utilised creativity in an interesting way. Whether it was delivering powerful messages in unique ways, large scale stunts or using emerging tech and platforms to solve a problem, they all deserve a shout out.
Women’s Aid – He’s Coming Home
Domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, created a powerful video to raise awareness around the increase in domestic violence during major football tournaments. The ‘He’s Coming Home’ video launched on 25th November to coincide with ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’ as well as England’s second group game in the FIFA world cup.
Netflix – The Art of Stealing
In a bid to promote the new series of Lupin – a Netflix thriller about a gentleman thief – the platform launched a unique campaign by targeting Poland’s most valuable painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an Ermine’. As part of the campaign, the Polish National Museum exhibited a fake version of the painting where the necklace was missing. This trick was executed both inside and outside of the museum where billboards featured a promotional image of the painting without the necklace next to a Lupin ad that featured the main character Sy holding the necklace under the words ‘Merci Madame’.
Back Market – Hack Market
Back Market, an online marketplace for refurbished phones, wanted to target people that were in the market for a new phone… by targeting them while they were shopping for a new phone. They created a bot that AirDropped messages to people inside Apple stores across Europe, letting them know they can get cheaper and greener models on the Back Market platform.
Heinz – Heinz AI Ketchup
Heinz’ ‘This is what ketchup looks like to AI’ used the Dall-E generator to prove that even computers know which branded ketchup is the ultimate ketchup. Their stunt used the open platform to create a series of images based on random ketchup-related phrases. The resulting images were undeniably inspired by Heinz’ signature branding, with the campaign simply proving that Heinz is synonymous with ketchup.
Vienna Tourism Board – Vienna strips on OnlyFans
Vienna’s tourism board took a unique approach to showcasing and advertising famous artworks from the city’s museums. These museums found that when they posted images of their paintings and statues that featured nudity, Facebook and Instagram removed them from the platform for being ‘pornographic’. So they turned to a platform that allowed 18+ content, OnlyFans. Each piece of ‘banned’ artwork was uploaded to the page and every subscriber would gain free access to the museums to view the artwork in person.
KFC – Chicken Stock
Everyone has seen a knockoff version of KFC before. OFC, PFC, SFC, KFD, NFC and many, many others. Well KFC are also well aware of them too and they are also aware that they have been stealing their product images for years to advertise their own chicken. Often the images have been modified so heavily they look pixelated and unappealing. So KFC decided to help them by launching a free stock image site that featured high res versions of their products for other chicken shops to steal.
Heineken – Boycott Ads
When pubs started to reopen after the pandemic, most countries introduced vaccination passport checks in order to keep people safe. This didn’t sit well with everyone and anti-vaxxers would ‘review bomb’ any pub that asked to see proof of a vaccination. Heineken saw the opportunity to turn these negative reviews into a positive by turning them into ads to promote ‘Covid free pubs’.
It’s been a year of creativity and pushing boundaries in marketing on the whole and we’re super excited to see the campaigns 2023 will bring us. Our Creative Content team is brimming with ideas for any type of brand to amplify causes that you care about and drive brand awareness in the process. Get in touch to start planning, or take a look at our previous creative work, including our award-winning campaign for The Thinking Traveller.