We love nerding out over content marketing campaigns. With the rise of social media, technology, and various topics gaining traction, we’ve seen some brilliant campaigns arise over the last few years.
A great campaign is thought-provoking, relatable and engaging; it elicits a reaction from its audience. It makes you feel something. We’ve compiled a list of 10 inspiring content marketing campaigns that do all of this and more.
1. Pretty Curious – EDF Energy
Pretty Curious is a campaign that hit home for us. Having known and worked with some fantastic women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), we really appreciate the message that EDF Energy put out with this campaign.
The aim of Pretty Curious is to encourage more girls to get into STEM. EDF states that one-third of girls think they’re not clever enough to go into science, and they’re ‘pretty serious’ about changing that.
The video used to promote the campaign shows shots that focus on multiple young girls, with the text ‘I’m pretty’ appearing on each one. As the video progresses, we see each of the girls working on a science or engineering related project. A new word is added to the text that accompanies each shot, transforming it into statements like ‘I’m pretty inventive’. This campaign is a brilliant example of how to subtly flip gender bias on its head.
View this post on Instagram
Our #PrettyCurious Studio volunteers 🙋 are ready to #STEM-spire over 1,000 teens 👩🎓 in #Harrogate #Maidstone and #Exeter this month with @littleBits Droid Inventor kits 🤖 . . . . . #STEM #inventorswanted #classroom #teaching #littlebits #droid #robotics #electronics #science #technology #engineering #maths #scienceinanewlight #lookagain #event #jobs #school #teen
TOP TAKEAWAY: Subverting expectations is an effective tool to generate curiosity.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: How the text and visuals tell the story without any need for dialogue.
2. Make Room – Netflix
Make Room is a campaign lead by Netflix that aims to highlight the need for more inclusivity in entertainment.
The promotional video follows actress Uzo Aduba across various environments taken from shows in the Netflix universe. The campaign illustrates how Netflix is making room for diverse characters and their stories, representing them in a way that hasn’t been done enough before. Make Room tells the entertainment industry that diversity is nothing but a positive thing – with Netflix leading by example.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Your company values can inform the type of content you make. Authenticity is the best version of self-promotion.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The story is told through someone very relevant to the campaign, resonating with its target audience.
3. Lessons in Herstory
Lessons in Herstory is an innovative app that utilises augmented reality to tell stories of influential women throughout history. It comes as no surprise to us that the achievements of women are continuously overlooked. As stated in the campaign video, ‘History has absolutely been ‘his-story’.
The video begins with children being asked to name significant historical figures, to which the children respond with a list of men. The app is then shown to bring old textbooks to life, updating them with the dynamic stories of women from the past. The inspiring end quote of the video reads ‘When they see themselves in the pages of yesterday, they can truly aspire to be the leaders of tomorrow’.
(Photo credit to Lessons In Herstory)
TOP TAKEAWAY: Use your campaign as a voice to explain how your product or service will benefit your ideal target audience.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The campaign video clearly shows how the app works.
4. Dollar Shave Club
It’s safe to say that this is one of our favourite campaigns of all time. The simplicity and silliness blend together seamlessly to create a unique advert that sets Dollar Shave Club apart from its competitors.
One of the reasons why this ad works is because it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles. It simply explains what the business does and how it can help its audience in an engaging and fresh way.
TOP TAKEAWAY: A simple format for a promotional video can be just as effective as a large scale one.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The humorous tone of voice.
5. World Record Egg
The infamous World Record Egg seemed to come out of nowhere. At first, it didn’t appear as a marketing move; it seemed to be more of a meme. In just nine days the egg became the most liked photo on Instagram and has now accumulated over. 53 million likes.
After the initial photo, the account posted a series of pictures showing the egg gradually cracking. It was eventually revealed that the egg was a campaign all along. The purpose of the campaign was to spread awareness of mental health; the egg was symbolism for someone ‘cracking’ under the pressure of social media.
The anonymity behind the campaign is part of the reason that it was so successful, giving it a Banksy-esque feel. People wanted to know who was behind the egg, why they posted it and what it meant.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Campaigns that are structured as a series of posts are great at building anticipation and curiosity for the audience.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The clever use of symbolism.
6. Project #ShowUs – Dove
Dove is a tricky brand when it comes to campaigns. In the past, they’ve had the occasional oops. Their 2017 campaign that featured moisturiser bottles modelled after six different body types faced significant backlash. But sometimes, Dove manages to hit the nail on the head.
Their #ShowUs campaign highlights the broad diversity of beauty and how it fails to be represented in the media.
The campaign is essentially acting as a voice for the 70% of women who feel as though they don’t see themselves represented in the media. It’s reaching out to other brands, asking them to show us ourselves.
View this post on Instagram
For too long the media has failed to reflect what we see in the mirror, and @stylistmagazine are with us in promising to change that 💙 Featuring photos from our #ShowUs library (shout out to @girlgaze and @gettyimages) their #LoveWomen initiative shows us a more inclusive and diverse vision of beauty 🙌 We want to see wrinkles and scars. We want to see all bodies, all hair and all skin tones. We want to see you represented in the media – and Stylist Magazine do too 👀 #Dove #DoveLoves #RealBeauty #Stylist #LoveWomen #ShowUs #Unstereotype #AllWomen #AllBodiesAreBeautiful #AllWomen #RepresentationMatters #Girlgaze #GettyImages
For the longest time, brands have pushed an unrealistic standard on to women. It’s almost like these brands hope they can convince women that their products will help them reach this idealistic type of beauty. Dove challenges this idea, alternately suggesting that women would be more likely to engage with brands if they saw where they could fit in. We’re sure this compelling campaign is one that almost every woman can relate to in some way.
TOP TAKEAWAY: It’s likely that your audience will consist of multiple demographics; represent as many as you can.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The high production quality of the promotional video.
7. Rang-tan – Iceland and Greenpeace
Despite getting banned from being shown on TV due to coming across as ‘too political’, the campaign went viral thanks to social media.
Following the success of the initial campaign, Iceland brought out cuddly toys to help promote and support the cause.
(Photo credit to Iceland)
Rang-tan successfully raised awareness to the problems caused by the palm oil industry; particularly highlighting the danger of orangutans becoming endangered because of it. It’s admirable the purpose of this particular campaign was to spread a message and do good, rather than sell a product.
TOP TAKEAWAY: When you build a strong community on social media, your audience promotes your campaign for you.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The charming animation style.
8. Like A Girl – Always
We’re all tired of seeing campaigns for period products that involve women jumping out of planes or running a marathon. This campaign moves away from those outdated advertising approaches and instead focuses on spreading a message that we should all be aware of. In the campaign video, several women and girls are asked what it means to do various activities ‘like a girl’.
Whilst the older girls and women described that ‘like a girl’ is a negative thing, the youngest participants saw nothing but positivity in the phrase; with one girl describing that running like a girl is ‘running as fast as you can’. The difference in responses shows how our gender bias is learned and seems to get worse with age.
Always then went on to create a #LikeAGirl podcast and emojis, as well as taking their campaign into schools; using it to encourage girls to get into sports.
TOP TAKEAWAY: If your particular product or service has always been advertised in a similar way, don’t be afraid to go for a completely new approach.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The decision to create the brand hashtag #LikeAGirl to help the campaign’s social media presence.
9. The indoor generation – Velux
The campaign video titled ‘Let nature back into your home’ shows how the children of today seem to be trapped indoors the majority of the time, and will go on to spend even more time inside as an adult.
We think this campaign raises an important message, inspiring more of us to go back to our roots and spend more time in nature. It’s a fantastic example of selling a brand rather than selling a product.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Campaigns that avoid going for a hard sell tend to be more effective.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The subject is relatable to most people in some way.
10. Look At Me – Women’s Aid
The billboard used cutting-edge facial recognition technology to track how many people looked at the image displayed. The more people that looked at the image, the more the woman’s bruises would disappear.
Creativity combined with technology has proven itself to be a fantastic model for a campaign, as Look At Me went on to win a multitude of awards. Not only did this campaign highlight impressive technology, but it also was successful in raising awareness for domestic violence; reaching a total of 326.9 million people throughout its run.
TOP TAKEAWAY: You can blend old methods of advertising with new technology to create a unique and innovative campaign.
OUR FAVOURITE PART: The strong visuals don’t shy away from portraying the seriousness of the issue.
What we can learn
As we said at the start of this post, the best campaigns are the ones that make you feel something. Each of these campaigns will elicit a different response – laughter, outrage, inspiration, curiosity.
We picked a diverse bunch for a reason; there’s no set formula to achieve a successful campaign. Although, one thing each campaign has in common is that none of them try to push a product on you with a hard sell. They sell a story rather than a product. In its simplest form, content marketing is storytelling. So, when you’re creating your next campaign, think about what story you want to tell rather than the product you’re trying to sell.
Get more content marketing inspo
We hope you enjoyed reading about some awesome campaigns. Why not check out our recommended reads on all things content marketing. Or, if you feel inspired to create a campaign of your own, have a read of this infographic on the 7 trends you need to know for a successful content marketing campaign.