Ad Campaign

The success of an advertising campaign can be judged using the following metric: what was its impact on the growth of the brand? And which immutable, universal truth did the campaign manage to convey or have us acknowledge that made a lasting impact? Very few advertising campaigns manage to do this, but the ones that do, tend to achieve immortality. Here are five of the most successful advertising campaigns in marketing history.

  1. Nike’s “Just do it.”
  2. “Just do it” originated in the 80s during the fitness craze, sweeping the United States. Nike knew that it needed to do something to overtake its main competitor, Reebok, in sales. “Just do it” was born and it helped skyrocket Nike’s sales from $800 million in 1988, to nearly $9.2 billion in 1998. Just do it was short, to the point, and easy to digest. It managed to perfectly encapsulate the mantra most people felt they lived by when exercising.

  3. Volkswagon’s “Think Small.”
  4. Recognized in the advertising world as the gold standard, the iconic “Think Small” campaign was revolutionary as far as American Advertising went, because it originated during the 60s when the urge and desire to buy American was at it’s height, not to mention the leftover ill will from the second world war, which meant people were still very reluctant to buy German automobiles. Volkswagon traded on what it knew and did best: built small cars. Americans were used to large, American cars and rather than try and compete with companies already providing that product, Volkswagen only ever attempted to sell what it actually did, thereby illustrating one of the primary advertising principles: don’t sell what you aren’t.

  5. The Marlboro Man
  6. The Marlboro man originated in the 50s and was a perfect demonstration of what can happen to a product when you advertise the lifestyle around a product. The Marlboro man was free, masculine, in control of his own destiny, and displayed a lifestyle many men at the time were searching and nostalgic for.

  7. California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk.”
  8. After the launch of this campaign, milk sales in the state of California rose 7% in just one calendar year. But the reverberations of the “Got Milk” campaign did not stop there. To this day, around the world, the cultural impact of this advertising campaign (for milk!) of all things, can be felt in the hundreds of “got X” parodies and knockoffs present across industries and the media. “Got Milk” did not attempt to attract new customers with its message, but rather sought to make existing milk drinkers more appreciative of a product they already consumed, and were familiar with. Sometimes it makes more marketing sense to reinvigorate your existing audience than to try and capture a new one.

  9. Dove’s “Real Beauty.”
  10. This campaign was as effective as it was, because it created a campaign around a sensitive subject that it knew was important to its audience. Dove used real statistics and hard facts about beauty and women’s perceptions of themselves around the world to drive home a message that resonated with viewers and helped brand Dove as a product that cared about women’s issues and was on the side of women.

A memorable advertising campaign survives the test of time. The impact that it makes is not temporary because the message delivered behind the product is timeless, and the imagery and iconography used to sell the product, universal. Knowing how to really convey a human truth and do it genuinely and sincerely is the key to monumental advertising campaigns. All it takes is one good idea and the words to project it.

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