Incredible Marketing Campaigns

  • Paul Sullivan
  • May 25, 2021

Incredible Marketing Campaigns

Whether they’re brimming with imagination or ambitious in scope, advertising campaigns aren’t just about companies. Marketing can change the world and transform how we interact with businesses and even with each other. Below are some examples of the world’s most incredible marketing enterprises.

Diamonds Are Forever

You’re young, in love, and want to buy something to show your other half just how much you appreciate them. Why not get a ring? It’s a timeless and universal symbol—isn’t it? Well, it turns out that engagement rings, especially those with diamonds, are a relatively recent trend. 

Back in 1888, De Beers, a little-known mining company, realized that the diamonds they were producing from South African mines were quickly becoming popular. So, De Beers sought to make diamonds both commonplace and expensive. How? First, they looked to monopolize the market. Their success in that respect continues today: they still hold between 80 and 85% of the diamond market share. Second, they hoped to capitalize on the wedding industry, and they succeeded masterfully with a marketing campaign that advertised how every young man willing to get engaged must be willing to spend two months’ salary on one ring. Anything less would be considered cheap.

The worst part of all this is that diamonds, unlike gold and other precious metals, have little intrinsic value, and are often sold for far more than they are worth.

Where’s the Beef?

In the mid-80’s, the Wendy’s restaurant chain was looking to make a splash on the television commercial space. So, they hired a unique actress: Clara Peller. At 80 years old, she wore glasses, spoke loudly, and had a no-nonsense attitude. Because she was hard of hearing, she was given short lines that were easy for her to shout.

So the legend was born. In 1984, no one forgot the advertisement that featured three elderly women taking apart a typical fast food burger. The burger’s bun is beautiful and enormous, but once they lift the top bun, they see only a tiny piece of meat. One of them, 80-year-old Clara Peller then yells repeatedly, “Where’s the beef?!”

Victims of their own success, the Wendy’s chain nearly collapsed the following year as they struggled to keep up with the high demand for their signature beef patties. It looks like after seeing the commercial, clients, too, would repeat the famous question, “Where’s the beef?!”

Bounty and Big Spills

In an advertising campaign that broke boundaries, Bounty set out to refresh people’s awareness of their brand. They thought big. The company wanted to prove just how absorbent their products were, so they set up an enormous coffee cup—nearly eight feet tall and filled with aromatic coffee—and had it spill its contents all over a New York City street. Unsuspecting pedestrians were alarmed by the mess, and came to the rescue, thanks to the Bounty samples on hand.

Running Benches

    Have you ever tried to get in shape as part of your New Year’s resolution, only to drop out and lose interest by February? Well, athletic sportswear giant Nike decided they would push runners back into action by setting up benches in select cities around the world. What’s special about these benches is that they have nowhere for you to sit; they are just bench frames with a back that features the Nike symbol and reads “RUN.” So if you’re hoping to enjoy a beautiful day in the park, why not do so at top speed?

Second Cup Celebrates Shuttered Starbucks

Whenever the American corporate giant Starbucks closes down a location, local cafes seem to celebrate. Closer to home here in Quebec, Second Cup recently began an ad campaign rewarding clients for walking past closed-down Starbucks locations in Montreal. So, all you need to do is stroll by one of these by-gone coffee shops and Second Cup will target you with an ad to claim a free vanilla bean latte. Why not celebrate that this goliath was taken down a peg?

  1. Which is your favourite among the campaigns above?
  2. Are there any other advertisements you can think of that are iconic, innovative, or enduring?
  3. Today, advertisements are everywhere: from Youtube videos to Facebook feeds to street buses and trains. Is that a good thing? How much is too much?
  4. Can you think of a product or company that doesn’t advertise? What do you think is the effect of advertising or opting not to advertise?
  5. What makes a successful ad campaign?