Most innovative marketing campaigns

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Most innovative marketing campaigns

This report provides eight examples of highly innovative or impactful marketing campaigns across different industries. Included are two examples of restaurants (Chipotle and IHOP), one example of a major manufacturer (Proctor & Gamble), two examples of beverages (Coke and Red Bull), two examples of personal hygiene products (Old Spice and Always), and one example of a destination (Iceland). Full details on the associated campaigns and their impacts are provided below.

Chipotle's "Back to the Start" Resonates with Viewers

  • In 2011, Chipotle's first national TV spot, "Back to the Start", caused an unexpected reaction with viewers. The 2:15 video featured a computer-animated farmer experiencing a change of heart as he switches from industrialized farming practices to sustainable ones. In the background, Willie Nelson's cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist" plays.
  • Once the ad was uploaded to YouTube, Mark Crumpacker (Chipotle's chief marketing officer) started getting messages from friends and comments from viewers expressing their fondness for its tone and the topic it addressed.
  • Crumpacker bought spots in movie theaters for the ad to air, and audience were standing up and applauding when it did.
  • Chipotle made the song available on iTunes and encouraged downloads of it; proceeds went its charity, Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. This further increased the connection between the Chipotle brand and activism for sustainable farming practices.
  • Chipotle later won the first-ever branded content Grand Prix at Cannes.
  • The ad was embraced for the way it introduced viewers to food industry issues in such a hauntingly powerful way.
  • Chipotle continued its success with subsequent long-form videos that had a similar theme, including 2013's "The Scarecrow", which also won the Grand Prix at Cannes.
  • In 2014, Chipotle launched a four-part series, "Farmed and Dangerous", on Hulu. The series won the 2014 Clio Awards Bronze for branded content.

IHOP's Name-Change that Never Happened Quadruples Sales

Procter & Gamble's "Thank You, Mom" Campaign Touches Hearts

  • When Proctor & Gamble (P&G) had the opportunity to be sponsors for the 2010 Winter Olympics, they decided to run with the theme that was central to many of their products: mothers.
  • From its initial launch in 2010, P&G has been gaining more and more momentum with the tear-jerking, award-winning commercial campaign during each Olympic Games event.
  • In 2012, the campaign added $500,000 in sales to the company and won a Gold Effie as well as creative awards.
  • In 2014, as the campaign continued for the Winter Games in Russia, P&G landed the top four spots for best-scoring ads for consumer effectiveness from the 2014 games.
  • Between February 7 and 10, 2014, the videos had more than 25 million views, putting P&G more than four times ahead of the next six Olympic sponsors combined.
  • This campaign was effective because it unified P&G's primary customer base with a deeply personal theme of celebrating mothers.

Red Bull's Parachute-From-Space Event Captivates the Internet

  • In 2012, Red Bull's Stratos event drew the simultaneous attention of millions around the globe. It involved strapping a camera to Austria's Felix Baumgartner as he parachuted toward the earth from the edge of space.
  • More than just a publicity stunt, Red Bull coordinated the event to demonstrate human potential and provide valuable research data for the progression of science.
  • As millions watched, Baumgartner broke the sound barrier and two other world records.
  • Red Bull Stratos was one of the most live-streamed events ever to be seen on the internet. 8 million viewers watched the event live, dwarfing the previous record holder's 500,000 simultaneous viewers.
  • The event helped boost Red Bull's global sales by 13 percent that year.

"Share a Coke" Lends Personalized Touch to Products

  • Coca-Cola tapped into the viral potential of social media and the trend toward personalization with its 2011 Australian launch of the "Share a Coke" campaign.
  • The campaign was designed to connect with consumers at eye-level and promote grassroots support of the brand.
  • Cokes with the top 150 names in Australia were released, and consumers were encouraged to pick up Cokes with the names they were familiar with as gifts.
  • The launch was very well-received on social media and Coca-Cola let consumers vote on the next wave of names.
  • The 2014 launch in America was followed by Coca-Cola gaining 25 million new Facebook followers and 500,000 posts from consumers using the #ShareaCoke hashtag, all in the first year.
  • In 2015, Coca-Cola launched an eshop to let customers order personalized bottles of Coke online.

Old Spice Man Sets New Bar for Manliness

  • In 2010, Old Spice sought to depart its tired image of being associated with grandfatherly men with its Old Spice Man series of commercials.
  • Beginning with a spot during the 2010 Super Bowl, Old Spice Man thrilled viewers with his masculinity paired with the commercial's dry humor.
  • The commercial gained more than 40 million views on YouTube in the first 30 days of its launch on the platform.
  • In the first 30 days, sales of Old Spice body wash increased by 107 percent.
  • Rather than aiming at male viewers, the commercials ostensibly were targeted at females, letting them know that their man could smell like Old Spice Man.
  • 70 percent of toiletries are purchased by women, which helped to drive sales.
  • This campaign succeeded because it successfully targeted its demographic of young men and women with a humorous, sexy campaign.

Iceland Gets Its Groove Back - and Keeps Going

  • Iceland experienced a 22 percent drop in tourism following the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
  • To help draw visitors back to the island nation, it launched "Inspired by Iceland", a multi-faceted campaign designed to help increase Iceland's appeal to global tourists.
  • The campaign engaged the residents of Iceland to go online during "Iceland Hour" and send messages about their favorite things about Iceland to their friends and family members around the globe.
  • In the first three weeks, 2.2 million contributions were generated by users for the campaign.
  • The ensuing videos, live webcasts, documentary shorts, Facebook posts and pages and Twitter feeds were all promoted through print and TV advertising aired around the world.
  • As a result, the number of tourists increased from 500,000 in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2016.
  • Tourism is now one of the most important industries in Iceland, generating more foreign revenue than any other.
  • This campaign was successful in part because it utilized freely-given user-generated content. 85 percent of users respond better to user-generated content than traditional marketing.

Always Changes the Meaning of "Like a Girl"

  • Always confronted both its dismal social media presence and a major social issue when it launched its "Like a Girl" ad campaign challenging what the phrase means.
  • Older women and men were asked what it meant to do things "Like a Girl" in the ad, followed by younger girls, who responded in an entirely different, less-mocking way. This forced viewers to confront how their own perceptions have changed over time.
  • The 2015 Super Bowl ad aired in tandem with a robust social media launch paired with #LikeAGirl, causing the ad to go viral and conversations to be sparked across social media.
  • The video gained over 90 million views, and became the second-most viral video in the world.
  • The number of followers on Twitter for Always tripled in the first three months after the ad aired, and the number of YouTube subscribers grew by 4339 percent.
  • Claimed purchase intent increased by 50 percent in the target demographic.
  • 70 percent of women and 60 percent of men responded that their perception of the phrase "like a girl" had changed after viewing the video.
  • The campaign was successful because it utilized data that young women have a drop in self-esteem when they hit puberty and spoke to that experience.


  • "“It was never intended to be an ad,” said Chipotle chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker. Maybe not, but it was the chain’s first national TV spot, and it made a massive splash. The video ended up airing in full—more than two minutes long—during the Grammys in 2012. The animated video, created by CAA, featured Willie Nelson’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” and took viewers through one farmer’s change of heart, from running a huge industrialized farming compound to one with more sustainable and humane practices. Chipotle encouraged viewers to download the song at iTunes, with proceeds going to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation."
  • "Willie Nelson, Coldplay, Chipotle and director Johnny Kelly have made a creative alliance with the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation to create BACK TO THE START, a short animated film highlighting the issue of sustainable farming. Chipotle founder Steve Ells met with Johnny Kelly in London to talk about his passionate efforts to source food on a more sustainable and ethical basis. Music legend Willie Nelson, well known for his support of family farmers, was a perfect collaborator for the music."
  • "This 2014 Clio Awards Bronze winning entry is titled 'Farmed and Dangerous' . The piece was submitted to the medium: Integrated Campaign within the entry type: Product/Service and the category: Integrated Campaign."
  • "There was some skepticism that IHOP could translate the 1.2 million tweets about the campaign in the first 10 days into sales. But it looks like the stunt has paid off. At its peak, the company was selling 500,000 burgers per week, Haley said."
  • "On October 14, 2012, Austria’s Felix Baumgartner astonished millions watching live around the world with a parachute jump from the edge of space. That galvanizing moment was the culmination of years of work by an elite team determined to find ways to improve aerospace safety, and the mission’s legacy lives on."
  • "Red Bull Stratos sought to surpass human limits and advance scientific discoveries for the benefit of humankind. The successful mission broke World Records and provided valuable medical and scientific data for future pioneers."
  • "YouTube’s live stream of the event racked up over 8 million viewers just before Baumgartner took his death-defying plunge. According to AllThingsD, “The previous record for a single Web video service: Around 500,000 concurrent streams, which Google served up during the Olympics this summer.”"
  • "According to the private company, it sold 5.2 billion cans worldwide last year, a 13% increase over the year prior. In the U.S., sales jumped 17%, while markets as varied as South Africa, Japan, Saudi Arabia, France and Germany also saw double-digit sales gains."
  • "LA: Our research showed that while teens and young adults loved that Coca-Cola was big and iconic, many felt we were not talking to them at eye level. Australians are extremely egalitarian. There’s a phrase called “tall poppy syndrome.” If anyone gets too big for their boots, they get cut down like a tall poppy. By putting first names on the packs, we were speaking to our fans at eye level."
  • "Consequently, consumers shared more than 500,000 photos via the #ShareaCoke hashtag, within the first year alone. Coca-Cola gained roughly 25 million new Facebook followers that same year."
  • "After realizing the need to increase market share, Old Spice launched a marketing campaign in 2010 directed towards the younger generation and the response was tremendous. Old Spice showed an attractive man telling the female audience that their man could smell like him if he uses Old Spice. Within 30 days of the launch of the campaign, Old Spice saw over 40 million views on YouTube, and a 107% increase in body wash sales."
  • "In 2010, the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull threatened to lead to a projected 22 per cent decline in visitor numbers. The PR-led ‘Inspired by Iceland’ campaign helped to change global perceptions and resulted in a 27 per cent rise in tourism."
  • "Iceland’s growth strategy in the tourism industry has become a benchmark for the global tourism industry. It reflects, amongst other things, the results of Iceland utilizing the opportunity that presented itself through the unexpected volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 that “shut down” Europe and Iceland for days. The tourism industry used the volcanic eruptions as an opportunity to create a global campaign called “Inspired by Iceland” that boosted the inflow of tourists, now estimated to reach 1.7 million this year, up from 500 thousand in 2010. Tourism has grown to be one of the most important industry in Iceland, generating more foreign revenue than any other industry."
  • "UGC is free and depends entirely on the user promoting content on their social media and other online platforms. It is an effective strategy to build deeper emotional connections with your audience. As reported by AdWeek, 85% of users say visual UGC is more influential in their decisions than brand-generated photos or videos."
  • "The Always brand hit a home run with this advertisement, not because it went viral after the commercial ran in the 2015 Super Bowl, but because it was a groundbreaking message that hundreds of millions of people repeated long after the campaign was over."
  • "The result was that Always lost relevance with the 16- to 24-year-old age group. This was a big issue in a category where, research shows, women tend to stay very loyal once they find a brand they like. To reconnect with its young consumer base Always had to stand for more than just protection. Product communication simply would not do."
  • "The idea for the touchy-feely ad campaign came from a common business exercise: analyzing consumer research. Fama Francisco, vice president of Global Always, and her colleagues looked closely at the data and found that girls experience a significant drop in self-confidence when they hit puberty. "