Today, with technology present in virtually every aspect of daily life, it’s fairly easy for ad campaigns to go viral overnight. With social media allowing consumers to ‘share’ pretty much anything they please, many campaigns with high shareability (or ads that flop) are quickly spread through these platforms. Here, we reminisce about some of the most talked-about ad campaigns in recent years, whether they were huge successes or massive failures.
1.) Purple Mattress’ “How to Use a Raw Egg to Determine if Your Mattress is Awful – Purple Mattress”: Mattress commercials aren’t exactly a hot topic, but Purple Mattress changed that with their video ads, which aired on television as well as on YouTube. Their Goldilocks-themed ad now has 169 million views on YouTube, and 33 of their 70 total videos have at least 1 million views. Their raw egg test video shows Goldilocks trying out hard, medium, soft, and remote-controlled beds, pointing out their flaws and testing them by dropping four eggs affixed to a 330-lb pane of tempered glass onto the mattresses. Between Goldilocks’ dry humor and an interesting experiment, this video was a surefire hit, and Purple claims that this ad campaign helped drive $75 million in online sales in 2016. The brand initially launched their Kickstarter campaign with a video, and they haven’t stopped creating video content since. But the ads didn’t go viral on their own; CMO Alex McArthur said that while their videos have a viral nature to them, they are being pushed out in front of consumers through sponsored social media ads, and that’s what ultimately helped them gain such popularity.
2.) Procter & Gamble’s “Thanks, Mom”: While Purple mattress used humor, P&G’s ongoing Olympic-themed ad campaign tugged on viewers’ heartstrings. Beginning in 2010, P&G launched a series of commercials featuring moms and their Olympic children in several different ways, and whether they were comforting the athletes as children or the Olympians were replaced with kid versions of themselves, the ads acknowledged the role that mothers play in their children’s’ lives, especially when supporting a dream as big as being in the Olympics. This is an example of an ad that plays on emotion while also connecting with a specific target audience: mothers. Many of P&G’s products are marketed to mothers, so this type of advertising was extremely effective in building brand.
3.) Nike’s “Dream Crazier”: Nike recently released a couple of ads that acknowledge the adversities athletes face while training. In September of 2018, Nike released an ad featuring athletes of color and disabled athletes, and was narrated by controversial figure, Colin Kaepernick. The ad blew up. The message it sent was inspirational and encouraged athletes to pursue even the craziest of dreams, but many people boycotted Nike and even went as far as destroying products they already owned in protest. Kaepernick became a hot topic when he began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL football games, so Nike was taking a clear political stance by featuring him in the ad. After the ad’s release, stock prices rose up to $83.83, and Nike’s online sales were directly affected. From September 2nd to September 4th, sales jumped 31 percent, or double what they were during the same period the previous year. The ad was well-received overall, and Nike ultimately ended up benefiting from it, even if a lot of people were unhappy over the brand’s political stance.
4.) Pepsi’s “Live for Now”: In April 2017, Pepsi released its “Live for Now” ad, which addressed political protests across the nation. The ad featured Kendall Jenner approaching a protest and handing a police officer a cold can of Pepsi after which the protest dissolves. Unfortunately, the commercial came off as being insensitive to this racially charged issue, and viewers did not like it. The imagery used in the commercial seemed to allude to a photo of Ieshia Evans approaching a police offer while protesting the deaths of two people of color in Baton Rouge. The ad was in poor taste and received a lot of backlash, and Pepsi ultimately pulled the ad the next day. They also released a statement in which they apologized and explained that they were trying to promote global unity and had no intention of making light of a serious issue. Though a spokesperson from Pepsi hasn’t commented on the amount of money lost after pulling the campaign, industry experts said in an interview with People that the campaign’s cost must have been well into the millions. The company’s stock wasn’t affected much by the advertising disaster, but the company took nine months to recover its reputation, according to YouGov.com. After the ad, brand perception had dipped to its lowest point in eight years. Now, millennials are only 23 percent likely to buy a Pepsi, a drop from 33 percent in 2014.
5.) Gillette’s “The Best a Man Can Be”: The popular razor brand recently released an ad addressing toxic masculinity and promoted the idea of men calling out other men when their behavior was deemed inappropriate – like when two boys are wrestling or a man catcalls a woman. Released amidst the #MeToo movement, the ad was praised by women, but a lot of men were outraged. Piers Morgan even tweeted that Gillette “now wants every man to take one of their razors & cut off his testicles”. Clearly people agree with Morgan; the ad has 1.4 million dislikes on YouTube, which dwarfs the 783,000 likes on the video. Following the ad, Gillette’s sales remained the same. Despite the backlash, the company is satisfied with its ad, according to CNN. Procter & Gamble’s CFO, Jon Moeller, said sales were “in line with pre-campaign levels” and that the subscription service, Gillette Shave Club, has continued to grow and add new subscribers despite the demand from the public to boycott the company.
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