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25 of the Best Marketing Campaigns of All Time That Spark Inspiration

Back in the days of three TV networks, AM radio, and newspapers, advertising was a competitive industry that gave us some of the most entertaining marketing campaigns ever.

In today's data driven world, the medium has changed, but the need to get attention, drive a purchase, and shift people's impression of a brand or company is alive and well.

Creating iconic marketing campaigns today might mean going viral, but the basic elements of good marketing haven't changed as much as you might think.

What Is a Marketing Campaign?

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Basically, they’re a business’ strategic efforts toward promoting a specific company goal. 

They’re meant to reach customers through a combination of media platforms and influence either their perception of the brand or entice purchasing from them.

A campaign is a many layered thing too. Composed of design elements, like CTAs and landing pages, and sales focuses, like forms and email marketing strategies, all aspects of a great campaign work together to form this singular, original idea.

Advertising plays in as well since you have to get the message out there somehow.

Why Are Marketing Campaigns So Important?

Marketing campaigns contribute a lot toward a company’s bigger picture. Even though they can vary in size and scope, they all typically deliver the same benefits when executed well.

It Boosts Brand Awareness.

No matter what medium you advertise your message through, you’re exposing your audience to your brand. People will become more and more familiar with your company and your products.

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If your sales increase and customers decide that they like your goods, they’ll start sharing it with their friends and family, boosting awareness even more.

A good campaign gets people talking. As long as they’re saying good things, take as much free press as you can to supplement your campaign efforts.

It’s Budget Friendly.

Unless you’re planning on featuring a new commercial on the Yankee stadium jumbotron, then you can keep the cost of your campaign relatively low.

The digital assets needed to build your messaging can be integrated across campaigns and shared over channels. This saves you money that you’d be putting forth on duplicating content, graphics, and the like.

It Attracts New Customers.

A great marketing campaign that engages leads across different platforms will definitely get a lot of positive attention.

It’s easy to forget one commercial that you saw out of the corner of your eye while washing dishes. But if you see another ad from the same campaign while scrolling through your Instagram feed, then you’ve come to recognize the brand

If you’re exposed one more time and the product actually has some value or interest to you, you just may be tempted to see what all the hype is about.

Next thing you know, you’re giving your payment details.

With online marketing, you now have access to a much larger pool of customers that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach, and the right campaign will draw them in.

7 Simple Steps for Running a Successful Marketing Campaign

The perks of outreach and new leads all sound well and good, but planning and launching a successful campaign isn’t a quick snap of your fingers. It’s not extremely difficult either, though.

There are some pretty simple steps to act as a guide for executing a marketing campaign that’s going to yield exciting results for your business.

1. Define Your Objectives and Goals.

Doing so will help align all of your efforts and make sure that your teams are on the same page every step of the way. Objectives will also give you a means to assess your campaigns effectiveness after it’s launched.

2. Set a Budget.

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Some campaigns are larger than life and it can be inspirational to try and meet the challenge. But you can easily expend more resources than your business can handle. Setting a budget helps you plan wisely while still meeting your goals.

3. Define Who Your Target Audience Is.

Who is your ideal customer?

A marketing campaign can be introduced to a variety of demographics, but not everyone will be interested in your product or services. Identifying your intended audience will help you target your content and draw in leads who will actually convert into customers.

4. Create and Design Your Marketing Content.

This is the fun part. It requires all of the appropriate teams to work in tandem, crafting engaging content that’s going to strengthen and define your brand and bring in new business.

5. Choose What Channels and Mediums You Will Run Your Campaign On.

Keeping your budget in mind, do research on what channels your target audience regularly uses. Certain mediums have more influence over specific demographics than others.

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Look into what’s going to have a better ROI for your campaign so that you’re maximizing your efforts.

6. Launch the Campaign, and Keep a Close Eye on Metrics.

Monitor the appropriate KPIs for your benchmarks and the intended goal of your campaign. Perform reporting regularly so that you can have true insight on its progress and performance.

7. Analyze the Results and Make Notes for Future Campaigns.

At the end of it all, you should have solid numbers that will indicate what worked and what didn’t. No matter whether your campaign went viral or flopped terribly, there should always be some actionable takeaways that you can apply to future campaigns.

25 of the Best Marketing Campaign Examples You Know and Love

Through the years, there have been an astounding number of campaigns introduced to the world. And although not every attempt has performed well, there are some that are so successful that they're still going.

Here are some of our favorite marketing campaign examples of all time.

1. Nike: Just Do It

In 1988, Nike sales were $800 million. They introduced their iconic “Just Do It” campaign.

Within a decade, sales topped $2 billion. “Just Do It” is a core message that still works 30 years later.

2. Apple: Get a Mac

One of the most iconic brand development marketing campaigns, Apple's Mac vs PC campaign of 66 spots ran from 2006 to 2009.

Simple and powerful, this campaign was entertaining and informative, and it helped build Mac into the brand it is today.

3. Pepsi: Is Pepsi OK?

Using celebrity endorsements in Super Bowl ads isn't exactly a new trend, but Pepsi pulled some serious star power in their 2019 campaign.

Steve Carrell, Lil John, and Cardi B finally put an end to the debate on if Pepsi is OK or not.

4. IHOP: IHOb

One of the greatest tricks in recent years, the International House of Pancakes had everyone up in arms over its new commitment to... burgers?

It never wound up actually happening, but it did generate so much buzz that social media went a little insane.

5. Absolut Vodka: The Bottle Campaign

Absolut

This print campaign began in 1980 and made the Absolut bottle the most recognized bottle in the world. The campaign consisted of 1,500 ads and ran for 25 straight years.

When it began, Absolut had a 2.5 percent market share. By the time it ended, the company was importing 4.5 million cases a year, which made up half of the vodka market!

6. Red Bull: Stratos

The Red Bull Stratos campaign is an example of marketing for the modern age!

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner flew 24 miles to the edge of space over New Mexico and jumped. He free-fell for over six minutes before deploying his parachute and floating back to earth. This publicity stunt was one of the most live streamed events in the history of the Internet.

7. Marlboro: The Marlboro Man

The Marlboro man ads started in 1995, and they were one of the most powerful, and hated, marketing campaigns of the 20th century.

The campaign showcased the “can do spirit of the American cowboy" and made Marlboro one of the best selling cigarette brands in the world.

8. Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man in the World

Until this campaign started in 2006, beer advertising was about drinking the right beer to get attractive women to like you. The Most Interesting Man in the World positioned Dos Equis as the beer for the sophisticated drinker.

The ending – “I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” – brought the message home.

9. Progressive Insurance: Flo

The traditional approach to advertising insurance ranged from staid to sappy. That is until 2008.

Progressive introduced the world to “Flo.” After over 100 commercials, she's achieved cult status and changed the way insurance is marketed forever.

10. California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?

Got Milk? is one of the most identified worldwide marketing campaigns EVER. Between 1993 and 1994, consumption increased seven percent by 13.5 million gallons.

The first ad appeared in 1993 and was just retired after 25 years.

11. Kay Jewelers: Every Kiss Begins with Kay

Everyone knows that "every kiss begins with Kay," right? Like, every kiss.

Kay Jewelers definitely found a good slogan back in 1985. The line is incredibly popular and often quoted when referencing diamonds in general.

12. Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty

In 2004, Unilever's research found that only four percent of women considered themselves beautiful. After working with Ogilvy and Mather, Unilever launched the Campaign for Real Beauty.

It exploded.

Talk shows, women's magazines, and TV news began discussing modern female beauty standards. The campaign evolved into a series of viral videos, commercials, and print ads that changed how we all look at beauty.

13. Chipotle: Back to the Start

Originally conceived as an introductory video for their loyalty program, the “Back to the Start” campaign made a huge splash!

The reaction was so overwhelming that it became the chain's first national spot. The full two-minute video ran during the 2012 Grammy Awards and ushered in the “branded-content” era.

14. Budweiser: Wassup?

Beer brands have been using humor forever. But few have accomplished what Budweiser did with a single word.

Wassup?

The famous campaign ad was first broadcast in 1999. It only ran for two short years, but it became the most memed ad of the early 21st century.

15. American Legacy: Truth

What the Marlboro Man did for cigarettes back in the '90s, the American Legacy “Truth” campaign is undoing 25 years later. The concept is to push back against the lies of big tobacco, and it's working.

Smoking rates in the U.S. are at the lowest levels in history, thanks in part to this campaign!

26. Old Spice: The Man Your Man Can Smell Like

This campaign debuted in 2010, as sales for Old Spice were declining. Old Spice determined the path to growth lay with women.

This simple, funny campaign sold directly to women. It was a success and the star Isaiah Mustafa took it to social media. The company rolled out 186 video responses that gained 11 million views on social media, taking the campaign viral.

17. Apple: 1984 Super Bowl Ad

This ad, a groundbreaking introduction to Apple, is their most famous commercial, and it aired just one time, during the 1984 Super Bowl.

It brilliantly introduced the world to Apple Computers.

18. Avis: We Try Harder

This campaign rocked the advertising world back in 1963 when it first appeared. Pointing out that they had to try harder because they were number two, Avis wasn't number two for long!

This classic campaign moved from print to TV, radio, and the internet.

19. BMW: The Hire

In 2001 and 2002, BMW created a classic online campaign that leveraged the power of the internet like no brand had before.

BMW films was a form of branded content that consisted of eight short films created by popular filmmakers from around the world and featured actors like Mickey Rourke, Forest Whitaker, Don Cheadle, and Madonna.

20. Aerie: #AerieREAL

Aerie's campaign to promote body positivity and celebrate women uniquely as they are has been a huge success for them.

With inspiring celebrity role models, the retail company is more focused on demolishing unrealistic beauty standards than pumping out sales. But they seem to be doing both just fine.

21. Target: #TargetTalent

Target recently started a new social media campaign with some of the top influencers in the game right now.

With the superstore expanding its catalog to be an all-in-one stop shop, their new friends are really boosting an already high brand awareness.

22. Coca-Cola: Share a Coke

This campaign has grown remarkably since its start in 2014. Consumers can buy Coke bottles with the name printed on the labels, which is cool enough. But the ads are endearing too.

Got a unique name? You can go online and order a custom case for yourself.

23. Bud Light: Dilly Dilly!

Bud Light may not have realized what was going to happen when they launched this campaign in 2017.

Featuring a medieval times set, the commercial quickly became viral and had customers cheers-ing with "dilly dilly" for a while. It boosted beer sales substantially for the brand.

24. Allstate: Mayhem

Started in 2010, fans have loved watching just what trouble Mayhem will start for unsuspecting Allstate customers.

It's a hilarious way of highlighting how you never know what disaster might come to ruin your day.

25. Twix: It's Time to DeSIDE

Twix renewed its appeal by creating a division among candy fans with a debate over which Twix is the better one: left or right?

The campaign evolved over time with the company creating a new product of "all lefts" and "all rights." Whether that's actually in the wrapper or not is also up for debate, but it did its job and brought Twix back to top of mind.

These 25 iconic marketing campaigns shaped the way we market today. There's a lot to learn from them, so be sure to study them and whatever new ideas take over the world.

They'll help you understand marketing best practices, regardless of changing mediums.

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General FAQ

What Is a Marketing Campaign?

A marketing campaign is an organized, strategized course of action created to promote your business's product or service. It is often targeted to reach a specific business goal and can include many marketing elements.

Why Are Marketing Campaigns Important?

Running a marketing campaign can help spread your brand name and reach your leads and customers. It is a great way to promote your business and incentive your audience to check out your business.

How Do You Run a Successful Marketing Campaign?

Here are the steps to running a successful marketing campaign:

  1. Define your objectives and goals.
  2. Set a budget.
  3. Define who your target audience is.
  4. Create and design your marketing content.
  5. Choose what channels/mediums you will run your campaign on.
  6. Launch the campaign, and keep a close eye on metrics.
  7. Analyze the results and make notes for future campaigns.

Micah Lally

Micah Lally

I’m a Content Writer at Bluleadz. I’m a big fan of books, movies, music, video games, and the ocean. It sounds impossible to do all of those at the same time, but you’d be surprised by the things I can accomplish.