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8 Best Marketing Campaigns of all time

Aug 24, 2014

Advertising in business is a form of marketing communication used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to take or continue to take some action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common. This type of work belongs to a category called effective labor.

The catchiest slogans have a way of sticking in your mind, or perhaps even challenging the way you view the product being advertised. This is certainly the ultimate goal of marketers when they develop their advertising campaigns. Not all campaigns are created equal, but the best of the best illustrate how these slogans are an integral part of brand recognition.

Why are these 8 marketing campaigns the best of all time? Because of the impact they had on the growth of the brand, and because they manage to hit on some universal truth that allows us to remember these campaigns years after they first began. In fact, many of us (myself included) might not have even been alive when these campaigns first aired! So here they are, in no particular order (rest assured, you can nominate your favorites in the comments) -- the best marketing and advertising campaigns of all time, and the lessons we can learn from them! 

Nike: Just Do It.

Nike: Just Do It.

Did you know that there was a time Nike's product catered almost exclusively to the marathon runner? But they saw a fitness craze emerge, and knew they needed to get past their main competitor, Reebok. And yes, there was a time in our history when Reebok sold more shoes than Nike. But to succeed, they needed a new campaign -- they needed the "Just Do It." campaign.

The campaign was a hit. In 1988, Nike sales were at a measly (hah) $800 million; by 1998, sales exceeded $9.2 billion. "Just Do It." was short and sweet, yet encapsulated everything people felt when they were exercising -- and that feeling remains the same today. Don’t want to run 5 miles? Just Do It. Don’t want walk up 4 flights of stairs? Just Do It. It's a human truth we all could relate to, that drive to push yourself further. So when you're trying to decide the best way to present your brand, ask yourself what problem are you solving for your customers. What solution does your product or service provide? By hitting on that core issue in all of your marketing messaging, you will connect with consumers on an emotional level that is hard to ignore.

De Beers: A Diamond is Forever

De Beers: A Diamond is Forever 

Not only was De Beers' "A Diamond is Forever" campaign a success -- in 1999 AdAge declared it the most memorable slogan of the 20th century -- the campaign proposed (pun intended) the idea that no marriage would be complete without a diamond ring sealing the deal. They created the idea that a diamond ring was a necessary luxury. The lesson here is to use your marketing to convince your consumers that life without your product would be an incomplete existence.

The truth is, diamonds are intrinsically worthless and have no value. With that being said, De Beers has a global monopoly on diamonds and every year creates artificial demand for diamonds by only selling a predetermined amount in order to maintain the high price. In effect, De Beers controls both the supply and demand of the global diamond market.

Thanks to success of ad campaigns De Beers has been able to create a market for wedding anniversary gifts in addition to engagement rings.

Apple: Get a Mac

Apple: Get a Mac

While there have been many great Apple campaigns, this one made the list above all others because no campaign has captured a consumer group's persona quite like "I’m a Mac." You know that guy; you know exactly who they were talking about as soon as they came on the screen; you wanted to be the Mac.

The Mac/PC debate ended up being one of the most successful campaigns ever for Apple, and they experienced 42% market share growth in its first year according to Softpedia. The campaign told you everything you needed to know about their product without being overt, and did it in a clever way. In other words, just because your product does some pretty amazing things doesn’t mean you need to hit your audience over the head with it. Instead, explain your product’s benefits in a relatable way so consumers are able to see themselves using it.

Pears Soap Advertisement

Pears Soap

Pears transparent soap is a brand of soap first produced and sold in 1807 by Andrew Pears at a factory just off Oxford Street in London, England. It was the world's first mass-market transparent soap. Under the stewardship of Thomas J. Barratt, A. & F. Pears initiated a number of innovations in sales and marketing. According to Unilever records, Pears Soap was the world's first registered brand and is therefore the world's oldest continuously existing brand.

From the late 19th century, Pears soap was famous for its marketing, masterminded by Barratt. Its campaign using Millais's painting Bubbles continued over many decades. As with many other brands at the time, at the beginning of the 20th century Pears also used their product as a sign of the prevailing European concept of the "civilizing mission" of empire and trade, in which the soap stands for progress.

In the late 19th century, Pears used coins countermarked with "Pears Soap" as a way of advertising its soap. The coins used were French, imported by Pears. About the same size and shape as the British pennies at the time, these French coins were generally accepted as pennies in Britain.

Lillie Langtry's famous ivory complexion brought her income as the first woman to endorse a commercial product, advertising Pears Soap. Her fee was allied to her weight so she was paid 'pound for pound'.

Coca Cola Open Happiness

Coca Cola

Coca-Cola's advertising has significantly affected American culture, and it is frequently credited with inventing the modern image of Santa Claus as an old man in a red-and-white suit.

Coca-Cola has gone through a number of different advertising slogans in its long history, including "The pause that refreshes," "I'd like to buy the world a Coke," and "Coke is it."

Coca-Cola has been prominently featured in countless films and television programs. Since its creation, it remains as one of the most important elements of the popular culture. It was a major plot element in films such as One, Two, Three, The Coca-Cola Kid, and The Gods Must Be Crazy among many others. It provides a setting for comical corporate shenanigans in the novel Syrup by Maxx Barry. And in music, in The Beatles' song, "Come Together", the lyrics said, "He shoot Coca-Cola, he say...". The Beach Boys also referenced Coca-Cola in their 1964 song "All Summer Long" (i.e. 'Member when you spilled Coke all over your blouse?)

California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?

California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?

This long-running slogan was first launched in 1993 to encourage consumers to drink more milk. Because of this campaign, milk sales in California rose 7% in just one year and to this day you still can't escape the millions of “Got” parodies. The lesson here is that G, S & P didn’t focus on people who weren’t drinking milk, but on the set of consumers who already were. Sometimes it’s not always about getting new people to use your products, but to get your current set of customers to appreciate your product more. Use your marketing and communications to tell your audience why they should appreciate the product or service you are already providing for them.

McDonald's I'm Loving' it


McDonald's is another company that has come up with a phenomenal number of catchy slogans over the years. In 1995, McDonald's asked consumers a simple question in their advertisements: "Have You Had Your Break Today?" This catchy slogan provided a revamp to the successful 1980 slogan, "You Deserve a Break Today." Other popular slogans that McDonald's has used over the years include, "Do You Believe in Magic" from 1993, "What You Want is What You Get" in 1992, "It's Mac Tonight" from 1985 and "I'm Lovin' It" in 2003 that featured a song by Justin Timberlake, in an attempt to use his star power to get customers into their restaurants. McDonald's current slogan is "There's something for everyone to love at McDonald's" since 2013–present.

Marlboro: Marlboro Man Poster

Marlboro: Marlboro Man

The Marlboro Man ads were the epitome of what a brand could do if it created a lifestyle around its product. You want to be free. You want to be a man. You want to be on the open range. Well, that’s a Marlboro Man. The ads were effective because they captured that dream lifestyle that we all wish we could escape to someday.

So what's the lesson? It's not to have an addicting product. But when you are creating content for your product, remember that it must fit into a person’s lifestyle, even if it's an idealized lifestyle. As cigarettes themselves have proved, it's easier to create a lifestyle than to change one.

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