Decoding success: The secrets behind great advertising campaigns

Decoding success: The secrets behind great advertising campaigns

Digital marketing has revolutionized the advertising landscape worldwide. Over the years, we have witnessed campaigns that, beyond promoting a product or service, have left a mark on consumers' minds. But what really makes a campaign stand out from the rest and become an icon? Let's look at some of the secrets behind several memorable campaigns.

1) Nike – "Just Do It"

Secret: Emotion and motivation.

Nike's famous slogan doesn't focus on its sports footwear product but on drive and determination. This campaign connects with the inner spirit of improvement, making the audience feel that anything is possible. By appealing to deep emotions, Nike made this concept resonate generation after generation. But what is the real meaning of this concept? The creator of the slogan, Dan Wieden, commented in an interview that it originated from the last words of a man who was sentenced to death in 1977 in Utah (USA), after committing two murders, during a time when the death penalty existed, and he was given the choice of how he would die. On the day of his death, when asked if he had anything more to say before dying, he replied “Just do it.”

Regardless of its history, Nike achieved its purpose by providing a sense of motivation to its audience.

2) Apple – "1984"

Secret: Breaking conventional approach.

 The commercial released during the 1984 Super Bowl introduced Apple's Macintosh as a tool of liberation against conformity and became a masterpiece of advertising. Inspired by the dystopia presented by George Orwell in his novel "1984", the ad showed a world controlled by "Big Blue" (a representation of IBM) and how an athlete, symbolizing Apple, broke that control. The impact was immediate: Apple sold 72,000 computers in just 100 days after the commercial aired, exceeding all expectations. This commercial was not only acclaimed for its creativity but also considered one of the best of all time.

 On the other hand, the "Think Different" campaign, launched in 1997, sought to restore the brand's image. Through black and white images of iconic figures like Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr., Apple celebrated those who dared to think differently and change the world. This campaign was not only internationally acclaimed, but also helped Apple regain its prestige and triple its shares in a year.

3) Dove – "Real Beauty"

Secret: Authenticity and representation.

In an industry plagued by unattainable ideals, Dove chose to show real beauty. In 2004, Dove burst onto the advertising scene with a campaign that would become one of the most iconic: "Real Beauty". This initiative was memorable not only for its audacity but also for how it challenged and transformed traditional beauty stereotypes, celebrating female beauty diversity instead.

The main challenge Dove took on was to revolutionize the conversation around beauty. The brand decided to deviate from the norm of using digitally retouched models fitting a specific aesthetic ideal and opted to present real women. These women, encompassing all ages, sizes, shapes, and races, became the face of a new definition of beauty.

One of the main lessons this campaign taught us is the transformative power of breaking stereotypes and communicating authentically with consumers. This campaign demonstrated that brands have the potential to be agents of positive change, influencing how people perceive themselves and the world around them. From this, the brand also used social media to amplify its message, with other viral campaigns like "Dove Real Beauty Sketches", which showed how women often see their beauty more critically than others.

4) Old Spice – "The man your man could smell like"

Secret: Humor and innovation.

Despite being an established brand, Old Spice worked on its image to make it young with a fun and surprising campaign. The mix of humor with a creative and unexpected format generated conversation, memes, and a high level of engagement on social media.

In 2010, Old Spice burst onto social media with one of the most memorable campaigns, where they not only presented viral videos that captured the public's attention but also offered a unique proposal: the possibility for the iconic "Old Spice guy" to create personalized videos for fans and bloggers. More than 180 videos were made, with over 23,000 comments, and the original video currently has over 60 million views on Youtube. For this campaign, they used important profiles like Ryan Seacrest and Perez Hilton, which made it go viral.

5) Coca-Cola – "Share a Coke"

Secret: Personalization and community.

By replacing its iconic logo with common names, Coca-Cola invited consumers to find and share bottles with their loved ones. This massive personalization created a sense of community and belonging, encouraging interaction and purchase.

With a clear vision of the market, the campaign was designed with the millennial generation in mind. Coca-Cola used their inclination towards social media and was able to establish a deeper connection with this demographic. The campaign greatly benefited from a data-driven approach. With clear objectives, such as increasing sales in Australia and establishing a direct link with its consumers, Coca-Cola was able to chart a clear path to success.

What do these examples tell us?

Advertising success is not simply about having a quality product or a large budget. The most iconic campaigns are those that manage to connect emotionally, break paradigms, and understand the values and desires of their audience.

If we look closely, we can identify patterns and strategies that these brands used to stand out.

  • Emotional connection: Campaigns that create deep emotional connections are more likely to connect with their audience. Nike and Dove are clear examples of how brands can make a bond with their audience and create a successful campaign.
  • Creative courage: Apple was not afraid to break the rules and present something completely new, proving that audacity well executed, can completely change the game.
  • Interaction and participation: Campaigns that invite the public to interact and participate directly tend to have a greater impact. Coca-Cola did this with its consumers, creating a sense of community and belonging.
  • Reinvention and adaptation: Established brands should not fear reinventing themselves. Old Spice, despite being a brand with history, showed that adapting and changing its image can be key to connecting with new generations.
  • Deep understanding of the audience: Beyond selling a product or service, successful brands connect with their audience, their aspirations, desires, and fears. By reflecting this in their campaigns, they are showing empathy and generating loyalty.

When designing a campaign, it is essential not only to think about 'what' is being promoted but also 'why' and 'how'. Emotions, originality, and genuine connection are necessary in modern marketing, those brands that understand and apply these principles are more likely to create campaigns that become history.