The 5 Best Marketing Campaigns We’ve Ever Seen (& How to DIY)
As consumers, we are inundated by targeted marketing campaigns all day, every day.
But the thing is, there are marketing campaigns—promo codes, marketing emails, social posts, search ads, and more—and then there are MARKETING. CAMPAIGNS. The ones you talk about or share with others. The ones that make you see a brand in an entirely different way. The ones you remember.
Now, not everyone is Spotify or has a billboard-sized budget—but we can learn a lot by looking at some of the best marketing campaigns out there. So today, we're going to cover:
- What exactly a marketing campaign is.
- The different types of marketing campaigns and requirements.
- Five examples of the best marketing campaigns we've ever seen.
Each will come with takeaway tips so you can emulate, duplicate, and iterate on each of these examples.
What is a marketing campaign?
The term "marketing campaign" is quite broad and can mean many things. I've defined it here as a project executed to drive a specific action and carried out through one or a variety of channels. For example, you might be run a giveaway marketing campaign and carry it all out on social media. Or you might send out emails about it, write blog posts on it, have an influencer get the word out, and so on.
Marketing campaigns are designed to drive a specific goal, like increasing website traffic, boosting sales on a particular product or service, or getting more people to try out a free tool. They also typically have specific time frames assigned to them in order to accurately test, analyze, and optimize.
There's a lot that goes into a successful marketing campaign:
- Who: Which audience segments are you targeting? New customers? Dormant customers? Users of a particular service you offer?
- What: What are you promoting, and what are the assets needed for the campaign?
- Where: Where will you be carrying out the campaign? Social, email, website, offline?
- When: When do you plan to launch, run, and close the campaign?
- Why: Why are you running the campaign? What short and long-term goals does it target?
- How: How will each piece of content work together to maximize the campaign's success?
Types of marketing campaigns
There are plenty of ways to leverage marketing campaigns to drive your marketing objectives. Let's take a look at some types of marketing campaigns you can run.
1. Launch campaigns
For those of us who like to work for startups, you’re probably familiar with the hustle of trying to get brand new launches in front of an audience—whether for a new product, service, or feature.
This is the perfect opportunity for a marketing campaign! Depending on the size of your launch, you may want a full-court press on all your marketing platforms. For launches in particular, think about including:
- Press release
- Press features or sponsorships
- Blog post written by stakeholders
- Syndicated content on LinkedIn or Medium
- Advertising campaigns on social platforms
- Influencer or network support
The iPod launch campaign did so well, Apple still uses this type of imagery and copy for their wearables.
For tips on this campaign type, check out 12 Ways to Effectively Promote a New Product or Service.
2. Sales promotion campaigns
Thinking about reducing the price of a service for a limited time only? Upgrading your bread-and-butter product? Sounds like a great time to market that through a time-limited marketing campaign.
You’ll need to communicate with your existing customers to update them about the discount or new UX, and you can try to leverage them to spread the word.
- Email communication (promotional email examples here).
- Blog post (depending on the duration of the campaign).
- Network support
- Shareable social media assets
Here's a list of sales promotions you might use for a campaign like this.
3. Event marketing campaigns
Conferences are finally making a comeback! This hits close to home, as I am neck-deep in planning conference sponsorships, speaking sessions, and booth designs. Not to mention attending webinar after webinar on “how to” this and “how to” that.
To make sure people attend your webinar, show up to your workshop, or buy tickets to the conference you’re holding, include some of these materials:
- Drip emails
- One-to-one outreach
- Landing page with registration form
- Shareable social assets
A blast from the ol' WordStream past.
Need some event marketing ideas? Look no further than these 11 Brand-building Event Marketing Ideas.
4. Lots of other marketing campaigns
Those are just three of the many types of marketing campaigns. The list goes on and on, depending on your goals, business circumstances, and what you define as a marketing campaign.
For example, here are some more to consider:
- Reengagement marketing campaigns: to get dormant or former customers to come back.
- Product or service-specifc marketing campaigns: to promote an existing product or service that needs some extra love.
- Rebranding marketing campaigns: Nothin' like showing your new makeover to the world.
Without further ado, let’s get into some examples! You can use these to inspire your next marketing campaign, spark some creativity for the current one, or help you plan a roadmap.
The best marketing campaigns we've seen and what we can learn from them
Below are five great examples of marketing campaigns done right. I'll also talk about how you can apply them to your own campaigns.
1. Two kinds of people (Apple)
Way back before the Mac was a "book" and when personal computers were a luxury, Apple launched the Lisa—the first ever computer with a mouse. Their launch campaign included a TV commercial starring Kevin Costner.
No, this was not the first influencer marketing campaign. In fact, this was a pre-fame Kev.
And no, the Lisa never took off.
It's the script of this commercial that makes it such a hallmark campaign: "That's why we make the most advanced personal computers in the world. And why soon, there may be two kinds of people: those who use computers and those who use Apples."
Takeaway: stay committed to your brand voice
As you can see, "Think different" may be Apple's current marketing slogan but this has been their messaging since the 80s. encompasses the history of their brand messaging. You can't truly brand your business without consistency, and Apple has done their due diligence in this arena for the past three decades.
2. Operation Santa (USPS)
I am fascinated by USPS. I mean, how absolutely mind-boggling amazing is it that you can put a cheap, sticky paper onto an envelope, put it in a box outside your house, and it will MAGICALLY end up thousands of miles away?!
But I digress. With Operation Santa, USPS encourages children to write letters to the "North Pole," aka a collection center that posts pictures of the letters online. Participants can then read these letters and answer one or many of the requests in the letter by mailing the child a package.
So while this marketing campaign helped to drive more business to USPS, it was in a charitable manner that made everyone feel good.
Takeaway: involve a third benefactor with your campaign
All marketing campaigns are technically a win-win: your customers get the valuable offer you're promoting, and you get their business. But with a charitable marketing campaign, you can go for a win-win-win. The third benefactor here—children of underserved communities—gives both USPS and its customers incentive to make the best of this marketing campaign. We all love buying products that also have a positive impact on our society.
3. What Agnes Saw (Tokyo Olympic Games)
This inspiring commercial features the oldest living Olympian (Agnes Keleti) as well as several incredible Olympics moments that have occurred over her lifetime. "What Agnes Saw" represents her seeing the torch light and the thousands of athletes just like her.
If this doesn’t tug at your heart strings or make you want to get up and do something, you might not have a heart. I’m going to be honest, I had no plans on watching the Olympic games this year. Mostly because I don’t have cable TV (as opposed to OTT). But after I stumbled upon Agnes’s sweet memories, I stole a login to my parents’ cable plan.
Takeaway: try a "look back" campaign that shows your achievements, challenges, or even mistakes
The Olympics are an event unlike any other. And each year they are held is so different than the last; locations, cultures, geopolitical events, and athletes all influence the make-up of the games.
What this marketing campaign from the Olympics shows us is how to embrace the different challenges and achievements. Don’t shy away from where you’ve been and celebrate where you’re going.
In practice, that means apologizing for any wrong doing and showing your customers how you are correcting it (acknowledging your mistakes has its benefits, you know). Or maybe it is best illustrated in showing the generations of family that have worked to develop the perfect formula for your business.
4. Prime Day (Amazon)
In 2015, Amazon had their first Prime Day as a campaign to get more Amazon Prime subscribers. And oh boy, did it work. So well that they’re still holding multiple days of Prime Day six years later.
Takeaway: offer a little something extra for loyalty
If you are a subscription-based business, take a page out of Amazon’s book and offer your subscribers a little something extra for their loyalty. Something that will make their friends and family so jealous, they’ll want to subscribe to your service as soon as they can.
I always suggest free stuff, because people love free stuff. In fact, the gym I go to recently had a “Member’s Day” that focused on fun games and giveaways for their members. They even brewed a signature beer for the event!
5. Where are my Quays?
How could we not include an influencer marketing campaign in here? And no, I’m not going to mention a certain weight-loss gummy/tea/supplement…
Where are my Quays is the ultimate influencer campaign. Does anyone remember when Chrissy Teigen absolutely blew up Quay sunglasses in 2019?
Everyone *had to have* a pair of these gigantic sunglasses after the comedian/model/John Legend’s baby mama endorsed them through a series of commercials and social media plugs.
Great move, Quay. Although my child-sized face was unfortunately too small for any of their products, I too fell victim to the campaign. You can find my sunglasses on Poshmark, please take them off my hands.
Takeaway: seek out genuine endorsement
First of all, know your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Who is in their sphere of influence? And how can you match the person within their sphere of influence with your product?
Working with influencers isn’t easy. But, in my experience, sometimes the right influencer will fall in your lap (aka send you an email pitch). You want someone who loves your product as much as you do, because genuine endorsement can’t be faked.
What are the best marketing campaigns you've seen?
While these are just some of my favorite marketing campaigns, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. And you crazy marketers just keep coming up with creative ideas. So send us your favorites and we just may add it to the list!