From a stand against racism and the fight against plastic, to brands levelling the playing field for women, here’s a low down of the best ads in 2018.
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Nike’s controversial yet brave decision to kick off the 30th anniversary of the tagline “Just Do It” with an ad featuring NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sent shock waves across many cultures. Supporters of Kaepernick and other players who knelt during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice against black Americans instantly rallied behind the ad. His inclusion has split opinion with as many supporting his decision as criticising it. Nike’s CEO Mark Parker has stuck to his guns crediting the ad campaign with an uplift in engagement and sales that has reportedly added 6 billion to Nike’s valuation.
“Don’t suck the life out of our oceans.”
A powerful and hard hitting series of images to highlight the destructive role of single-use plastics on our ocean life. 2018 was undoubtedly the year that consumers were made aware of the damage caused by plastic waste thrust into the spotlight by David Attenborough’s BBC Documentary Blue Planet II. The urgency to help sparked a change with brands big and small scrambling to help join the fight against the war on waste, with major brands including Starbucks pledging to phase out plastic straws.
“Highlight the remarkable”
Highlighter brand Stabilo caught the imagination of the industry with its ‘Highlight the Remarkable’ ad campaign featuring historical black and white photos with a yellow highlighter pulling out of the “remarkable” women in the picture and their accomplishments. Women featured include NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson who was responsible for calculating Apollo 11’s safe route back to earth. Edith Wilson, the US First lady who took on her husbands Woodrow Wilson’s US President responsibilities after he suffered a stroke and Physicist Lise Meitner, who discovered nuclear fission, yet her male partner was awarded the Noble prize.
When KFC faced disaster after being forced to shut hundreds of restaurants temporarily because it had run out of chicken the brand chose wit to respond by rearranging its letters to spell FCK to apologise to its customers. KFC UK’s CMO Meghan Farren admits that it was risk turning the brand name into what was effectively a swear word. But it thankfully paid off, helping to turn a potential PR disaster into a coup. Proving that an apology can be humble yet humorous if you find the right tone of voice.
Ikea’s “Peeing on this ad may change you life” was one of the most unexpected ad headlines of 2018. The ad doubled up as a pregnancy test by changing colour if your urine contained pregnancy hormones. The innovative and clever ad stopped everyone in its tracks revealing a discount code on Ikea cribs, because who wouldn’t want to redeem a voucher that they had just peed on? Now that’s what we call engagement!