2016 — what can we say? It was a year of unexpected twists and turns. Come on — I can’t be the only one shocked that a hip-hop musical about the founding of America was one of the most talked about trends of the year. Or that an animal-print-clad dude singing “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen” over a techno track would be something local DJs would chat about on my morning drive into work.
Likewise, when it comes to the marketing industry in 2016, the best (unexpected) campaigns and ads don’t disappoint. From Star Wars to search engines to Snapchat Spectacles, here’s a look back at last year’s bizarre and brilliant marketing wins.
This foulmouthed, raunch-tastic antihero holds a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, with Ryan Reynolds ranking high on that list. But beyond my personal affinity for the sarcastic heartthrob, the movie’s marketing was brilliant. Deadpool PSAs, a Tinder profile, TV interviews, and takeovers flooded the social sphere as the guerrilla marketing approach let viewers know that a) it was undoubtedly an R-rated movie and b) it was not the cookie-cutter superhero setup that we all know well — and kind of expected. And we’re already anxious to see what creative marketing they’ll cook up for 2018’s star-studded sequel.
As the year came to a close, the music-streaming giant showed its sense of humor by jesting its audience and making light of the oddity that was 2016 with billboard taglines inspired by real user data. These attention-grabbing signs feature quippy jabs like: “Dear person who played Sorry 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?” (No, but seriously, we want to know.) Most billboards also ended with “Thanks, 2016. It’s been weird.” Yep, that about sums it up.
A priest and an imam walk into a bar … er — rather, gather for tea. It sounds like the setup for a bad joke, but the marketing team at Amazon knocked it out of the park with this touching and inclusive commercial. The two religious figures coming together for an afternoon catch-up is a refreshingly simple, compassionate message in today’s (touchy) society.
When my co-worker initially shared this commercial with me, among his exact words were that it had him “weeping into his bowl of Wheaties.” After I watched, though Wheaties-less, its effect on me was similar. The video combines a Philippine telecom company called Globe Telecom with the Star Wars Rogue One premiere to tell the story of a bold young kid who #CreatesCourage by channeling their inner stormtrooper. We’re not crying — you’re crying!
Google’s Year in Search
D Custom General Manager Jas Robertson explained this one best: “This is some Google Marketing for their search engine. Yes, I know that in some ways, this is like appreciating marketing for air, water, or sunlight, but … it’s really compelling content that doesn’t talk about Google’s capabilities or push any specific service or app; it just reminds you in a really cool way that Google search is the intellectual subconscious of the human race.” Let that sink in for a second. I have to agree with him — here at D Custom, we appreciate content marketing that demonstrates value to your audience or customer and gives brands something great to deepen your relationship with them. Google’s Year in Search accomplishes just that.
Snapchat made our list thanks to a sky-high ad in the heart of downtown Dallas. For months, our social-media team here watched as the snap-themed ad continually evolved. With each change, we wondered, “What’s coming? More filters? More features?” But we never anticipated what actually rolled out: Spectacles. Snapchat’s marketing moves in 2016 transformed the social-media and photo app into a captivating and unprecedented augmented reality (AR) and product-focused company. You see crazy selfies with barfing rainbows and ethereal deer faces; we in the industry see infinite possibilities for integrated AR and wearables that will give the Fitbit junkies of the world a run for their money (see what we did there?).
Last but certainly not least, Peyton Manning’s retirement made his personal brand a major contender for our 2016 best-marketing list. Trust me: As a die-hard Steelers fan, this is hard for me to admit, but I am super impressed with Manning’s post-NFL career. His commercials are outrageously funny yet relatable, setting up the football great as a marketable and lovable “America’s dad” type. From Nationwide to DirecTV and Papa John’s, the puns are delicious, the situational comedy is hysterical, and when you see Manning’s grin flash across your TV screen, you know you can take your finger off the “skip 30 seconds” button on your remote.
There you have it — the D Custom-approved best marketing of 2016. What do you think? Do you agree with our picks? Feel like we missed something? What marketing inspired you in 2016 or made you weep into your Wheaties? Send us an email or share your favorites with us on Facebook.