Your campaigns need to blow everyone’s minds.
And even more so in a fast-paced and highly competitive space like the CPG industry.
It’s “go big” or “go home” in this field.
Do a great campaign, and consumers will reward you with lots of love, buzz, and whatever they’ve got in their wallets. A terrible campaign will get you quite the opposite.
No wonder 2019 was an interesting year for many CPG companies.
They ran campaigns that swept millions of consumers off their feet.
And we want to highlight a few of them, so you can apply some of their strategies to your upcoming campaigns.
Without further ado, here are six CPG marketing campaigns that rocked the hearts of consumers over the last year:
1. Oreo x Game of Thrones (GoT) title sequence campaign
When Oreo overhauled its marketing strategy in 2013, the 106-year-old brand found a new voice. And since then, they’ve been crushing it.
The Game of Thrones campaign is the latest example of Oreo’s marketing prowess.
In collaboration with HBO in 2019, Oreo created a multi-faceted marketing campaign that “reflected the spirit of both brands.”
Justin Parnell, the senior director of Oreo at Mondelez, revealed early on that the partnership between Oreo and GoT would be “more than a branded cookie and will also help fans pledge their loyalty to the throne.”
In case you missed the ominous black packaging among the familiar blue in the cookie aisle last year, the branded cookies were embossed to represent the remaining players in the GoT final season: The Night King, House Lannister, House Targaryen, and House Stark.
True to Parnell’s word, fans could pledge their loyalty by using the hashtag #GameofCookies or #ForTheThrone, capturing the essence of the show and thrusting Oreo into the cultural conversation.
The final piece of the puzzle was a spectacular 50-second ad that used 2,750 Oreo cookies to replicate the actual GoT title sequence.
To pull this off, Oreo’s marketing agency used the same production company that created the original GoT title sequence.
And to date, this share-worthy video has over 500,000 views on Instagram and 1 million views on YouTube. Not surprisingly, Kamila De Maria, brand manager at Oreo, said that the GoT cookies were one of their fastest-selling products.
Key takeaways for CPG marketers:
- Taking advantage of current trends is almost always a powerful strategy.
- Authenticity matters. If you’re going to align your brand with a trend, it needs to make sense. Don’t go jumping on the bandwagon for every little trend that pops up. Wait for a big one and wait for it to be a good fit (you know... like the Oreo one in our example).
- You need a comprehensive strategy to fully take advantage of the moment. For example, if Oreo had done the ad alone and left out the themed cookies or the voting, it probably wouldn’t have been as successful.
- All these parts worked together to create a feeling of being part of the event. And when your campaign reaches this level of connection with an ongoing trend, your brand and product become part of the conversation.
The Oreo campaign generated over 2,000 media placements and was even mentioned on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Seth Myers.
2. Nestle’s Acqua Panna campaign
The still-water market is booming and is expected to grow by $1 billion in the next three years.
And to take advantage of this, Nestle decided to move its product, Acqua Panna, beyond the restaurant scene and directly into the hands of consumers.
Even though the Tuscan spring water had dominated the restaurant industry for decades, Acqua Panna was a new product in the consumer packaged goods industry. So Nestle needed to build brand awareness while also establishing new distribution channels and retail partners.
To accomplish these marketing strategies simultaneously, Nestle partnered with Koupon (yep, that’s us) to launch a targeted convenience store campaign.
First, we designed a one-month mobile offer campaign using retailer-owned digital channels to target loyal convenience store customers.
These channels included loyalty apps, text messages, social media feeds, and in-store signage.
We also ran a robust digital marketing campaign with targeted ads on Facebook and other sites. These strategies combined to reach over 1 million impressions, plus those from in-app and in-store signage.
As for the second task, we secured national distribution for the promotion across 16 different retailer accounts that totaled over 10,000 convenience store locations. At the end of the campaign, Acqua Panna sales increased by 7.3%.
Key takeaways for CPG marketers:
- No need to do it alone. By leveraging Koupon’s existing network of convenience retailers, Nestle eliminated tons of legwork. Plus, we were able to provide retailer-owned loyalty apps and social media channels to help Nestle tap into an already existing market.
- Avoid jumping on just any trend. Instead, look out for profitable trends and put your brand in the position to take advantage. Remember the $1 billion growth expected in the still-water market? Nestle sure does.
3. Red Bull’s new flavor campaign
Red Bull has dominated the energy drink category for decades, saturating their target market of young, active males.
But still, Red Bull is not the type to rest on its laurels.
The company embodies action and growth. So, true to form, Red Bull launched a new product line in 2013 called Red Bull Editions. This time, with an entirely new target market — women and health-conscious consumers.
And in 2019, they added two new flavors to the Editions line, Peach and Pear. They introduced them just before Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day, as they were sure to mention to their new market.)
They even floated the playful Valentine-card inspired slogan, “You’re a peach, who’s your pear?” and created Instagram-worthy mocktail recipes for each flavor.
Key takeaways for marketing consumer goods:
- Red Bull didn’t just capitalize on trends, they identified multiple trends they could capitalize on with authenticity. Like the shift to healthy living, the rise of the mocktail, and the Instagram foodie craze.
- What’s more, the Editions worked well with these three trends simultaneously. The fruity flavors and sugar-free options blend naturally with the health movement.
And the pretty, colorful designs of the cans are Instagram-worthy, as you can see in the picture above.
- As for the mocktails, Red Bull and vodka had been a go-to for its original target market (college guys) for decades. But women and older professionals often want something a bit more classy.
Paste Magazine summed up the appeal of the Editions for this new market:
“There’s something to be said for having a drink or two with a little caffeine in it, and the flavored Red Bull lets you make something that tastes a little closer to an adult craft cocktail than something a college kid would drink.”
- Bottom line: capitalizing on trends is a rock-solid strategy. Focus on authenticity and a multi-faceted approach and you’ll be golden.
4. Coca Cola’s “Holidays Are Coming” campaign
Coca Cola struck an emotional chord with its “Holidays Are Coming” campaign in the 1990s. The ads featured classic Christmas imagery and festive holiday music.
In the UK, Coca Cola trucks decked out in Christmas lights visited towns, doling out free samples and unlimited holiday spirit.
After cruising on autopilot for a while, Coca Cola revitalized the campaign in 2019.
As marketing director Kris Robbens said: “We’ve taken the iconic and much-loved campaign and made it the biggest yet by bringing back the elements people love and adding new partnerships, activity and special moments to bring it to life in even more ways that we hope our existing fans and new ones will love.”
New elements of the campaign included:
- Karaoke takeovers of Piccadilly Lights
- A dedicated Snapchat lens
- A partnership with Waze to have directions voiced by Santa
- The release of limited-edition Coke Zero Cinnamon
- A global ad with the theme, “more unites us than divides us”
- Truck tours to 19 cities with free samples and donations made to a homeless charity
Key takeaways for marketing CPG products:
- Emotional and nostalgic ads work well when they’re not about the product itself. Think about it, this campaign isn’t selling Coke. It’s selling Christmas. Coke just happens to be driving the truck (so to speak).
- By associating your brand with something people love, it elevates your brand into another space. Your brand becomes more than just the product, it becomes a symbol. And symbols are often what inspire brand loyalty.
- The changes that Coke implemented in 2019 follow the industry trend towards adopting strategic, multi-faceted campaigns.
5. Halo’s “Ice Cream For Adults” campaign
You know the old saying about it being harder to stay on top than it is to get there?
Well, after Halo’s meteoric rise to become the #1 selling pint in America, the ice cream startup started feeling the proverbial pain.
In the beginning, Halo Top avoided traditional advertising, opting instead for a grassroots digital strategy. They ran highly targeted Facebook ads and enlisted droves of small influencers on Instagram.
Word of mouth spread like wildfire about this new “healthy ice cream.” Shoppers were buying a pint for every night of the week instead of every once in a while.
Essentially, the underdog ice cream brand started to change established consumer behavior.
But after becoming #1 in 2017, their competition started coming out of the woodwork. Big names like Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Daz launched similar products to compete directly with Halo Top for shelf space in grocery stores.
In response, Halo began using traditional advertising to reach a larger audience. One such example is their ‘Ice Cream for Adults’ television campaign, featuring a deadpan ice cream truck driver who won’t give kids any ice cream because the adults need it more.
Key takeaways for marketing CPG products:
- Halo’s position as the healthier choice is clear in everything they do. From the prominent nutrition info on the packaging to the many slogans embracing a no-guilt attitude. When they made the move into advertising, they reinforced this positioning with strong, clear messaging.
- Since the beginning, Halo has spoken to customers in a unique and consistent brand voice. According to Woolverton, “the goal always was to talk to people the way we talk to our friends.” This brand voice carried over into their advertisements, making it feel authentic.
- Halo stuck with what worked for them. Their original success was largely due to word of mouth via social media. So while traditional ads were a new medium for Halo, getting people to talk about them was old hat. Woolverton embraced this philosophy saying, “you have to be willing to make yourself part of the cultural conversation, good or bad. (...) The riskiest thing you can do is play it vanilla.”
- Don’t forget the trends. A large factor in Halo’s success is that they’re on trend with both their product and their marketing. Health-conscious product and Instagram-worthy packaging? Well played Halo Top, well played.
6. Gillette “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” Campaign
Image source: Gillette
To take a stand or not to take a stand?
In today’s polarizing times, this question looms large in the minds of marketing execs at companies big and small.
“How will standing with or going against this current event affect our bottom line?”
“Would we alienate customers if we do? Would we lose a competitive advantage if we don’t?”
These are big questions, and the answers are changing rapidly with the times. New evidence suggests that the majority of people, from Gen Z to Boomers, now expect brands to take a stand on important societal issues.
In this interview with Business Insider, Marc Pritchard of Proctor and Gamble reiterates this evidence, saying that “9 out of 10 people feel better about a brand when it takes a social or environmental stand.”
Proctor and Gamble’s Gillette took the social plunge in 2019, confronting toxic masculinity and its own “The Best a Man Can Get” slogan with its “We Believe” campaign.
The two-minute film features kids being bullied, men cat-calling and harassing women, and suburban dads brushing off fighting as “boys will be boys.”
Then the film pivots, showing men stepping up in toxic situations, setting the example for the “boys watching today who will become the men of tomorrow.”
The film went viral immediately, amassing 4 million views within 48 hours and over 12 million within 3 days (today it stands at 35 million). And with our society at large, the response was extremely polarized.
As CMO.com reported, “everyone and their horse has had something to say about the ad, whether its women’s rights activist, Clementine Ford (for), media commentator, Miranda Devine (against), TV presenter, Piers Morgan (against), Mark Ritson (for the strategy but against the execution), and even Amnesty International (for).”
Those against it claimed it was anti-male because it lumped all men into the same category. People posted videos of themselves flushing razors down the toilet.
At the same time, parents were sharing the video en masse on social media, many saying the ad brought them to tears, in a good way.
Key takeaways for marketing consumer goods:
- While there was an initial backlash, many agree that Gillette will end up on top in the long term. The ad played well to younger millennials and also to women. And even though women aren’t the target market, they still do a majority of the shopping for their sons and husbands.
- Harvard Business Review conducted a recent study to determine how consumers feel when companies get political. And it turns out, participants viewed liberal advocacy as neither good nor bad, but merely as normal business.
- So, if you’re able to link a point of view to your brand’s positioning, as Burger King’s Global CMO Fernando Machado advocates, the trend is moving in your favor.
Well, there you go. Six CPG brand campaigns that crushed it last year.
In case you didn’t notice, the common thread among all of them was trends. Trends in consumer behavior, trends in marketing tools, and trends in product demand.
So keep your ear to the ground.
Which trends will you take advantage of this year?