What a great year it’s been for digital marketing.

As many brand focus more and more on their digital drive, we’ve seen some mesmerising campaigns this year, with companies taking their first steps into the metaverse, immersive in-app experiences, good old fashioned viral hashtags and more.

Here, we take a look at some of the best digital campaigns of 2021…

Tinder: ‘It’s All Worth Finding’

Image source: https://www.thedrum.com/creative-works/project/tinder-its-all-worth-finding 

 

Dating apps like Tinder have, perhaps surprisingly, continued to grow across every metric since 2020, with new features like video chat helping keep them resilient. Having identified adults under 25 as a target demographic, Tinder created ‘It’s All Worth Finding’. The digital campaign was centred around TikTok but deployed across social media.

Tinder’s research showed that, recently, many users were talking about TikTok with their matches. Realising this demographic crossover, Tinder set out to target the TikTok crowd. The campaign sought to raise awareness and show that there are interesting people on their app, like the colourful cast of influencers and micro-influencers they featured.

The bulk of the campaign was made up of  dozens of British TikTok stars miming and performing along in the trademark style of the app. Tinder also followed through by sponsoring TikTok videos by the creators from the main campaign, capitalising on their large followings. Many of the creators made content about filming the advert in a vlog, reinforcing the organic, collaborative vibe. As well as a dedicated hashtag, creators also used existing hashtags such as the extremely popular #TinderTok. This helped to keep Tinder a part of the conversation on the platform, outside of the campaign.

‘It’s All Worth Finding’ is made for mobile, with an aspect ratio suited to phones. The lack of dialogue and use of text on screen means it can be viewed with or without sound. This makes it effective on mobile both when users are casually scrolling with no audio, or focused on their phones with their headphones in.

An honourable mention also goes out to Tinder’s collaboration with Deliveroo. This Valentine’s Day, they teamed up to become the nations ‘wingman’, delivering chicken wings with Tinder profiles on the packaging. You could scan these to match with the relevant profiles in the app. What a time to be alive!

BMW: 4 Series ‘Virtual Test Drive’ on Pinterest

Image source: https://adsofbrands.net/en/news/bmw-team-up-with-pinterest-to-offer-car-buyers-immersive-360-viewing-experience/1722 

 

Pinterest is still something of a dark horse when it comes to digital marketing and the platform has been making moves recently to provide higher quality of advertising options, and this campaign is a great example. 

Early this year, BMW took to the social media platform to deliver a slick, interactive campaign in support of their 4 Series Coupe. Users had something of a virtual showroom experience: 360 degree views of the car from the inside and outside, with annotations providing details on the car’s exciting features. 

BMW represents the first car company to use Pinterest’s new and improved sponsored pins. The Pin Extension addition enables advertisers to provide a custom, immersive experience within the Pinterest app. An intuitive feature, this uses the swipe up action that users may be familiar with from other apps.

The campaign is part of a trend of companies seeking to provide an in-person experience digitally. Marketing managers at BMW expressed a desire for this to be the next best thing to a test drive, at a time when test drives were not feasible. Pinterest, as well as being a popular site for recipes and home decor inspiration, is also somewhere consumers look for inspiration before making all kinds of purchases. BMW shrewdly drew on research suggesting that car enthusiasts, in particular, like to use the platform to inform their decisions.

Spotify: ‘Only You’

Image source: https://twistarticle.com/spotify-launches-wrapped-like-audio-birth-chart-experience-with-only-you

 

No one does user data quite like Spotify. They famously tapped into specific user’s listening habits back in 2016 and then in June 2021 revisited this theme with a crowd-sourced version.

The ‘Only You’ in-app experience is a made for mobile audio-visual slideshow, taking users on a journey of their standout listening moments on the app. It provides shareable graphics detailing the user’s unique listening behaviour. This included unusual artist combinations, niche genres, varied time periods and songs they listened to on repeat at specific times. It even provided a musical ‘birth chart’ for users, with musicians in place of zodiac signs.

This campaign created a bridge between the app and social media. Users and non-users alike saw their friends share their quirky musical snapshots online and could turn to the in-app experience to uncover their own unusual listens. They could then choose to share this, with the campaign optimised for sharing on Instagram stories. If their listens were as embarrassing as mine, users could skip the share stage and still listen to custom playlists based on these musical revelations, driving people to spend more time on the app.  

Alongside the in-app experience and user generated content, Spotify also took the opportunity to create a series of promotional videos and social media graphics. The shorts highlighted a unique listening story for three popular artists, and the graphics similarly looked at what sets apart the fans of a certain artist.

The O2 in Fortnite

Image source: https://priority.o2.co.uk/offers/60c77b7c4abe12062f3ffad3/fortnite-the-o2-in-the-worlds-biggest-game-fortnite

 

The smash hit video game, Fortnite, was responsible for a shift in the way that customers see in-game advertising. No longer are they an immersion-shattering intrusion into gameplay. Rather, games are starting to create ads that are exciting collaborations which players don’t want to miss, seamlessly integrated into the game world. 

With this in mind, the O2 seized the opportunity to bring their iconic London venue to the millions of users that play the game daily. For a week in June, players could visit the venue within Fortnite Creative and watch an immersive concert by emerging artists Easy Life, ahead of their tour of O2 venues later in the year. Players could also get exclusive in-game items, play mini-games and unlock a lobby song by the featured artists. 

This campaign promotes both the flagship venue and O2’s priority app, with rewards in the app for those who visit the O2 in-game. As we approach a critical time in the recovery of the live music sector, O2 venues are keeping themselves relevant in the minds of a key younger demographic.

The campaign also used the hashtag #TheO2inFortnite, with players prompted from within the game to share their enjoyment of the collaboration. The hashtag was highly active and user feedback was very positive.

Estee Lauder: Snapchat Virtual Try-On

Image source: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2021/04/20/has-snap-laid-the-foundations-ar-be-taken-seriously

 

In an excellent use of Snapchat, makeup brand Estée Lauder partnered with the social media giant to produce a series of lenses – dynamic, augmented reality filters. Allowing users to try on their makeup virtually, this campaign neatly and innovatively fills the gap created by the pandemic’s impact on in-store makeup counters. 

These shoppable lenses also create an easy, user-friendly path to purchase. There are links to buy the specific shade users have just been trying on, without having to leave the app. The campaign also hoped to integrate with the social side of Snapchat, allowing users to share pictures of themselves ‘wearing’ the cosmetics in question and getting advice from friends on what suits them. 

Estée Lauder collaborated with a leading augmented reality and artificial intelligence company, who specialise in applying this technology to the beauty industry. This provides extremely realistic, high quality images that allow customers to make informed decisions. No Photoshop fails here! Like many companies, Estée Lauder are looking to the future and creating campaigns that feel intuitive for digital natives.

Starling Bank: ‘Break up with your bank’

Image source: https://www.starlingbank.com/blog/why-we-switched-to-starling

 

British fintech challenger Starling have had a big year, becoming a unicorn with a billion pound valuation not long after the launch of their ‘#BreakUpWithYourBank’ campaign. We can’t say whether the campaign directly led to their billion pound valuation, but the well executed digital push can’t have hurt! Centred around a crystal clear call to action that still managed to be playful, Starling backed up the provocative slogan with reasoning that reinforced their USP’s. 

The banking app put together a bold campaign of graphics and videos, rolled out across social media and online. Using a lighthearted anti-romantic theme, the campaign compared switching banks to ending a romantic relationship that has run its course. Oh, and it was launched early this year, with a fresh push just before Valentine’s Day. 

Starling used their distinctive visual branding throughout. Simple, fresh graphics for a simple, fresh message to suit their brand. The bold imagery works well on all devices.

The banking sector is in the midst of an account switching war, prompted in part by established banks struggling to stay competitive with new banks like Starling. With this campaign, Starling are seeking to pull even further ahead in a battle they are already winning. The online-only bank consistently ranks in the top two most switched to banks in the country.

A gold star for Starling!

Aldi: #FreeCuthbert

Image source: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/aldi-addresses-case-missing-cuthbert-5309722

 

When M&S gives you lemons… 

The perfect publicity storm culminated in a delightfully devilish social media campaign from Aldi. Featuring the nation’s favourite identity thief, Cuthbert the caterpillar cake!

In spring, M&S announced they were taking legal action against Aldi for similarities between their two caterpillar cakes, Colin and Cuthbert. There was just something inherently funny about the seriousness of the legal proceedings and the silliness of the cake. This created a wealth of organic social media posts and memes posted by the general public. Stoking this fire was Aldi’s own Twitter account, which posted a series of hilarious tweets making light of the situation, and generating immense engagement. 

While M&S briefly referenced the social media storm on their own Twitter, Aldi were the ones to turn it into a fully-fledged campaign. The associated hashtag #FreeCuthbert was trending and became a phenomenon across the country. Aldi extended the amount of time Cuthbert had in the limelight, pulling the cake and having him dramatically skydive back into stores, new and improved. The new Cuthbert’s sales proceeds went to charity, providing positive brand associations and another incentive for customers to visit their local store.

Aldi also used the popularity of Cuthbert to subtly cross-promote, editing his face onto images featuring their other products. Altogether an extremely memorable, and likely very cost-effective campaign. Even taking into account legal fees…

UK Universities X Aardman X the Mental Health Foundation: ‘What’s Up With Everyone?’

Image source: https://downthetubes.net/?p=124995

 

Young adulthood can be a strain on mental health at the best of times. And the current crop of youngsters have had an even tougher time of it than most. With that in mind, a group of UK Universities teamed up with Claymation studio Aardman (legendary creators of Wallace and Gromit) and the Mental Health Foundation. Together they produced ‘What’s Up With Everyone?’, a digital campaign to support the mental health of young people.

Centred around a set of videos, a crisp website and dedicated social media accounts, this was one of the most visually striking offerings of the year. The classic Aardman clay figures were the focus in an otherwise 2D animated world. Alongside relatable and occasionally humorous narratives was a serious message. Across platforms, the campaign provided practical steps for consumers to follow up with, and links to further resources. 

Produced in collaboration with young people and mental health experts, this campaign took no chances when it came to whether or not it would resonate with its target audience. ‘What’s Up With Everyone?’ focused on real-life situations that young people may find themselves in. These were then used as a starting point to discuss broader feelings and mental health issues.

A genuinely impactful digital campaign, with the added benefit of helping the universities and charities involved by building brand recognition and credibility. As many universities focus on selling their student experience, these universities can set themselves apart in this regard. Many students will be more drawn to a university that values their mental health, and leads the national conversation around it.

BT: Hope United

Image source: https://www.thedrum.com/creative-works/project/saatchi-saatchi-bt-hope-united

 

This summer, BT created an excellent campaign with Hope United. They put a cause first and let their brand take something of a backseat. Coinciding with the postponed Euros, BT captured the imagination of fans with an integrated, social media centred campaign backed by the biggest names in football. 

Hope United lends its name to a team of footballers at the centre of the campaign, made up of some of the biggest players  in the UK. The combined following of these players is in the high tens of millions. Many of them chose to post about the campaign, giving it tremendous reach on social media. The team was complete with an eye-catching (and very quickly sold out) kit, branded with BT’s logo.

The team’s goals are to tackle online harassment. Fans can download or share a branded ‘pledge’ made for social media, vowing not to tolerate online harassment. The campaign has been responsive and engaged throughout the summer of football. Following racist harassment of England players, BT were able to take a stand in a way that felt authentic. And the hashtag #HopeUnited was filled with football fans sharing their own commitment to the campaign’s pledge.

A great campaign that took an important stand, while helping BT add a sense of principle to their brand.

 

That’s your lot! It’s been another strong year for digital, as the tools at our disposal continue to evolve and brands continue to take exciting risks. The coming months and years are sure to bring even more inspiring digital campaigns, and we can’t wait to tell you all about them when they do.