As we bid adieu to 2022, it is the perfect moment to take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about the most innovative marketing campaigns that graced our screens. The year was marked by an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, reopening of international borders, a surge in inflation, and geopolitical tensions, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Many brands navigated these tumultuous waters with dexterity, offering campaigns that not only captured our imagination but also struck a chord with our emotions. Oh, and they did a fine job of selling products too. Let’s dive into our curated list of standout marketing campaigns from 2022, dissect what made them click, and glean insights for brands looking to recreate that magic.
Heineken: The Closer
In our haste to figure out how to return to work after COVID-19, many of us forgot to think about how we return to post-pandemic leisure time. Heineken’s solution? A Bluetooth enabled beer opener called The Closer that can put nearby computers into sleep mode.
This marketing campaign follows workers of all stripes as they fail to disconnect from their work despite the late hour. Fortunately, a nearby coworker, bartender, or friend opens a Heineken with The Closer, and the person’s devices shut down. While the ad is fairly tongue-in-cheek (taking a video work call on your laptop in a bar bathroom is hopefully still a far stretch for most) it still hits on a problem that many workers face on a daily basis.
This grounding in reality saves The Closer from feeling too much like a gimmick. That, and the fact that The Closer product itself was only sold for a very limited amount of time. “Don’t have the closer? Be the closer” their dedicated The Closer page says, providing simple examples of ways for you to become your own Closer in your day-to-day life.
But Heineken took it a step further, using their environment as a clever way to advertise. To promote The Closer, they traveled around New York City, identifying office buildings where people were working late. When they found one, they projected an image on the building that called attention to the situation, turning late workers into… well, advertisements for not working late. When you think about brands that have your well-being at heart, beer brands aren’t typically the first thing that comes to mind—but maybe Heineken can change that.
The Closer campaign is the first in an overarching campaign entitled "For a Fresher World." It follows their popular Shutter Ads campaign that helped bring over 7.5 Million Euros to over 5,000 bars that shuttered during the pandemic. All of them re-opened.
Nike: Golden Jubilee Revelry - Through the Looking Glass of "Seen it All"
Anniversaries are precious junctures for brands to pause, take a retrospective glance at their triumphant journey, and chart the course ahead. To celebrate its momentous 50th anniversary, Nike collaborated with the acclaimed Spike Lee and the talented Indigo Hubbard-Salk to craft an advertisement that salutes the rich legacy of athletes who have donned Nike attire while also spotlighting the torchbearers of today.
"Seen it All" is reverently dubbed a Spike Lee joint, a masterpiece that rekindles numerous associations and personas. Lee's relationship with Nike is not new; he played an instrumental role in the legendary “It’s Gotta be the Shoes” ad series (which gets an honorable mention in "Seen it All"), and his iconic character Mars Blackmon sported Air Jordans in his 1986 movie, “She’s Gotta Have It”.
The commercial artfully juxtaposes Lee’s Mars Blackmon from “She’s Gotta Have It” against Hubbard-Salk’s Zimmie from the contemporary TV revival in a dual of wits through chess and spoken word. It's a montage that seamlessly weaves together over 40 clips of iconic Nike athletes from yesteryears and present day, encompassing legends like Michael Jordan to contemporary icons like Naomi Osaka. Poignantly, Zimmie’s narrative captures an unmistakably global array of athletes, with female athletes taking center stage.
As a brand custodian, one may be intimately familiar with the brand’s heritage, but customers often witness milestones in fragments. Crafting a campaign that beautifully encapsulates the brand’s past while illuminating its future trajectory enables brands to thread together the narratives of yore and visions for tomorrow. While having half a century of illustrious athletes as muses is advantageous, brands can weave riveting tales with far humbler archives.
In the realm of sportswear, Nike’s soul has always been mirrored through the athletes that wear its insignia. Its most powerful advertisements are often not contrived commercials but the moments of glory where athletes clad in Nike gear outperform in tennis, basketball, or skateboarding. Nike’s brand placement has become so ingrained in our collective psyche that the stellar endorsements often go unnoticed. “Seen it All” pays homage to these athletes – pioneers of influence before the term influencer even existed – and their indelible contribution.
This raises the question – who are the ambassadors of your brand that so embody its ethos that it is second nature for consumers to associate them with you? What if you took a moment to honor them? Such tributes not only enrich the brand's narrative but also cultivate a sense of reverence and allegiance among its patrons.
Dove: Paving the Path with #DetoxYourFeed
Dove has been synonymous with trailblazing campaigns, as evidenced by its accolade-garnering Reverse Selfie campaign in 2021. In 2022, Dove continued its winning streak with several remarkable campaigns, and it was a challenge to zero in on just one. However, #DetoxYourFeed deserves special mention for addressing the detrimental effects of toxic beauty advice on young girls.
The commercial begins with an intimate scene of mothers and daughters engaging in candid discussions about the daughters’ social media consumption. Initially, the mothers seem to believe that social media is a harmless entertainment source for their daughters. The narrative takes a dramatic twist when Dove employs AI technology to superimpose the toxic beauty advice rampant on social media onto the mothers.
This powerful portrayal highlights the stark contrast and impact when the same harmful messages are delivered by a mother, driving home the point that parents wield an immense influence on their children, often surpassing that of social media influencers. This campaign emphasizes the urgency for open dialogues between parents and their children regarding their online experiences.
True to the ethos of Dove’s Self Esteem Project, the advertisements never focus on products. Instead, the essence of the campaign lies in building a connection with the brand’s values. The viewer is left pondering - when faced with a choice at the store, will they opt for a brand perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards or Dove, which champions real beauty and positive change?
David Ogilvy, often hailed as the “Father of Advertising,” poignantly stated, “Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.” Dove’s campaigns are a vivid embodiment of this wisdom and underscore the transformative power brands hold when they commit to positive change.
Additionally, Dove unveiled other notable campaigns in 2022, such as:
#AsEarlyAsFive: This campaign aims to eradicate race-based hair discrimination, which shockingly begins as early as five years old. The campaign educates about the absence of legal provisions against such discrimination in many US states and invites individuals to sign a petition to put an end to it. Find out more here.
#RealCostofBeauty: Through this campaign, Dove endeavors to eliminate appearance-based hate and discrimination – a rampant issue costing Americans a staggering $500 billion annually. Discover more about the campaign here.
Dove has undeniably set a high benchmark in leveraging advertising as a medium for societal change, and #DetoxYourFeed serves as a reminder of the potency and responsibility that brands possess in shaping conversations and attitudes.
Kia: The Tale of Robo Dog
While not all the campaigns featured here had the glitz and glam of a Super Bowl spotlight, Kia’s Robo Dog certainly did. Leading the charge, quite literally, was Kia’s Super Bowl ad, heralding the arrival of the All Electric KIA EV6 with the catchy tagline “Live Fully Charged”. The star of the show was a pint-sized Robo Dog, on a quest to find its forever home.
What set this campaign apart was its ability to weave a heartwarming and universally relatable theme – pet adoption – into a narrative that subtly, yet effectively, brought electric vehicles into the conversation. Balancing this act required a delicate touch, especially considering electric vehicles still polarize opinions.
Kia's ingenuity didn’t stop at the ad; it turned the charm offensive into a benevolent endeavor. The lovable Robo Dog became such a sensation that Kia released 10,000 Adoption Pass NFTs featuring the robotic canine. A whopping 90% of the proceeds were donated to Petfinder Foundation, an organization committed to helping animals secure their happily-ever-after in loving homes.