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2021's Most Effective Marketing Campaigns That Still Inspire Us

Don't you think 'social media' was an intense playground for major brands last year with so many remarkable marketing campaigns rolling out?

Here are some of the brand movements that were truly in a league of their own in 2021!

1. Reddit's daring stunt during Super Bowl

What looked to be a technical issue during the Super Bowl in 2021 turned out to be an ingenious marketing initiative. During the big game, Reddit ran a five-second GIF commercial that began with some generic automobile video before glitching out and showing a message in the manner of a Reddit post.

Despite the fact that the message didn't stay on screen long enough for anybody to read it, fans raced to social media for additional information, and the commercial became the game's most viral campaign.

The statement turned out to be a reference to a sequence of recent events involving a group of Redditors who orchestrated a short squeeze on Gamestop stock, which sent shock waves across Wall Street. The commercial emphasized the strength of devoted individuals working toward a shared objective, while also implying that users may use Reddit to connect with people who share their interests.

Well, if something like that pops up on my screen during the Super Bowl, I'll be sure check out Reddit just for pulling off such a clever move! Won't you?

The campaign is an excellent example of how to get the attention of customers by doing something unexpected and different. To reach their target demographic, brands should be prepared to take chances and utilize innovative techniques.

2. American Eagle's 'Back to School' campaign

"Future Together Jeans Forever," a back-to-school 2021 ad from American Eagle Outfitters, featured new designs for youths. With a chat on Clubhouse, actors Caleb McLaughlin, Jenna Ortega, Addison Rae, Chase Stokes, and Madison Bailey kicked off the campaign.

But what was the most attractive part of the campaign was the company's partnership with Snapchat and Bitmoji. Snapchat unveiled the 'Dress Yourself' augmented reality experience, a first-of-its-kind experience that allowed users to try on and buy chosen styles from the AE back-to-school collection using the self-facing camera.

With the aid of its back-to-school cast, American Eagle debuted its first-ever digital apparel collection alongside Bitmoji. On Snapchat and the Bitmoji app, users could see Addison, Chase, Caleb, Jenna, and Madison's unique Bitmoji avatars dressed in campaign styles and dress their own Bitmoji in the AE x Bitmoji Collection.

Who could've thought going back to school would be this much more exciting because of a fashion brand's brilliant innovative marketing campaign?

3. Uber's eye-catching GIF newsletters

To capture their readers' attention, businesses are including minor elements of animation in their newsletters.

Uber's Halloween campaign, for example, contained only a few simple animations - such as bats flying over a full moon and a car's headlights lighting a black cat – but they were highly effective in catching people's attention. Meanwhile, animated backgrounds enclosed the full email text within the animation itself in its Christmas animated email, which featured dancing festive backdrop symbols.

Animation is increasingly permeating email marketing, and it's one of the main video and web design trends for 2021. It's now really simple to design a truly moving email campaign thanks to the addition of GIFs, animated backdrops, animated icons and typography, and CSS animation. And you need to go no further than Uber's newsletters to get some inspiration to do the same!

4. Pinterest's new launch of Idea Pins

Pinterest is extending its creator community even further with the debut of "Idea Pins," a video-first feature geared for artists who want to express their tales through video, music, creative editing tools, and more in 2021.

The new Pins feature seems a lot like Pinterest's own TikTok mashup with Stories, as it allows artists to create and edit creative films with up to 20 pages of material, utilizing capabilities like voiceover recording, background music, transitions, and other interactive components.

Idea Pins have a lot of elements that encourage conversation media formats, such as stickers and the ability to tag other authors with a @username. Pinterest has launched over 100 stickers with hand-drawn pictures that concentrate on the top categories and behaviors it expects to see, such as food-themed graphics, before-and-after stickers, seasonal events, and more.

When comparing Idea Pins to ordinary Pins, Pinterest claims that Idea Pins have received 9x the average comment rate. "On Pinterest, we have creators with incredible ideas, and Idea Pins allow artists to express their interests and encourage their audiences," Evan Sharp, co-founder of Pinterest and Chief Design & Creative Officer said. It certainly compels a common user to engage with Pinterest, don't you think?

5. The UN's climate action campaign across social media

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has started a new social media campaign across most major platforms to help put the consequences of climate change on our world into focus and to educate its followers about past and forthcoming global conferences such as COP26.

"Tell us how the climate issue affects your life by joining UN Climate Change's appeal for #ClimateAction and an ambitious outcome at COP26," TikTok writes on the campaign's Discover page. On the short-form video app alone, the hashtag had accumulated 82 million views.

UN Climate Change launched the campaign with a video featuring UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Emtithal Mahmood, who discusses why she is worried about the climate catastrophe and urges other people to Stitch the video with their own perspectives.

Meanwhile, the organization is sharing a series of infographics, images, stickers and short, looping GIFs addressing critical information like global warming, dwindling biodiversity, and the rising frequency of natural disasters on other applications like Instagram and Facebook. Sounds like excellent engagement on a major social issue, doesn't it?

6. Instagram's inspiring cultural campaign

In August 2021, Instagram launched a new campaign that 'denounces returning back to normal, because normal was never good enough', honoring creators who are 'changing the status quo.'

Popular photographer Bella Newman was commissioned by Instagram to shoot photos of some of the platform's most 'culture-defining' artists, which were then turned into entertaining, animated GIFs. Instagram's content aimed to urge its younger users to express their most real selves on the network as they select who they want to become in the future under the marketing tagline, 'Who we become is yours to make.'

7. Pandora's promotional campaign for new products

To commemorate the debut of the Pandora ME line, the jewelry behemoth launched a digital campaign aimed at a new generation of Gen Z buyers just in time for the holidays in September 2021.

The activity was led by a new set of celebrity brand ambassadors that were hand-picked to appeal to a younger audience. Addison Rae, Charli XCX, Donté Colley, and others were among the well-known names.

Several well-executed videos, Reels and looping GIFs on Instagram, in-store graphics and POS, and more innovative thinking in the shape of an Animal Crossing Pandora Island were used to promote Pandora ME (accessible in-game from 29th September).

In addition to all of this, Pandora developed a TikTok challenge called #123PandoraMe, which urged users to show three distinct aspects of themselves in order to mimic the company's motto, "For Every Me." Did you also participate in it? We sure did!

8. Snapchat's clever election-themed launch

Snap and ad agency VMLY&R collaborated last year to build a new AR lens for the Snapchat platform, allowing Gen Z to express their political opinions ahead of the UK's local and mayoral elections.

The 'Speech to Street' initiative aimed to get young people excited about local politics, talk about the topics that matter to them with their friends on the app, and then turn out in greater numbers at the polls. Prior to the elections, findings from previous research revealed that themes including mental health, the NHS, and salaries were most frequently mentioned by young people.

These major themes were then turned into a series of animated AR stickers that provided as vibrant backdrops for Snapchat users who wished to express themselves. Interesting way to get young strong-minded people into the user base of your app!

With all the fantastic initiatives that were released last year, marketers sure have their job cut out for them when it comes to establishing a mark and making an impression in 2022.

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