Creating a cut-through advertising campaign takes more than just beautifully designed creative. It takes courage, boldness and creative thinking. From deeply understanding your target audience, crafting a compelling narrative and standing out through personalisation and relevance, a seriously clever campaign will stick in your customers’ minds for years to come.
We got our team together to chat about their favourite campaigns – ones that made them laugh, made them cry, intrigued them or got their marketing brains firing on all cylinders.
Our Favourite Advertising Campaigns
Dr Dan, General Manager & Strategist
Your messaging shouldn’t always say, “hey you, come buy from us!” If it does, you’re losing your audience and you don’t even know it.
Here’s a great example from Hertility (a reproductive healthcare company in the UK). Riffing on the social issue surrounding women who are constantly asked when they’re going to have kids, it’s a relevant campaign that many women can connect with.
It’s values-based. It perfectly reflects and aligns with the target audience. It doesn’t need to say, “we sell something”, but it’s likely that viewers of the ad then went on to research the brand and its offerings.
João, Art Director
Alzheimer Society – Canada
A picture speaks a thousand words. This advertising campaign was compelling and really got the message across to its intended audience. Alzheimer’s can be lonely and isolating, not only for the person with the disease, but also for carers and family members.
The Alzheimer Society summed it up in a single creative asset: carers and family members often use post-its or similar written reminders to help their loved ones navigate what can feel like a terrifying time in their life. We are also reminded that those who care for the ones suffering are struggling with losing their loved one during this slow disease. The long goodbye.
Brett, Senior Graphic Designer
‘Not Happy Jan’ by Yellow Pages & the follow up ‘No Worries Jan’ by Darrell Lea, Australia
Over 20 years ago, when a bound, thick Yellow Pages package was delivered to your house, the Yellow Pages launched an ad about how a receptionist “forgot” to send in the details for her boss, and the slogan “Not happy Jan” was born. In 2019, Darrell Lea remade this famous ad with a twist on the story and ending the ad with “No Worries Jan”.
Following this ad launch, the parent company behind Yellow Pages asked for the Darrell Lea ad to cease airing and the feud was all over the news at the time. It certainly got people talking, both about the ads and the brands that made them. In the end, nobody really lost out.
Simon, Brand Director
How does a global luxury brand like Chanel go off-script without damaging the brand position it has championed for years?
To promote Mother’s Day, Chanel asked the children of their employees to draw their products. The winners’ art were turned into authentic, down-to-earth adverts for this luxury brand, never before associated with children. This had all the elements that make great advertising stick in your mind.
It’s surprisingly off-brand for Chanel. It’s short-lived and timely. It beautifully links the brand’s stereotyped target audience – elegant, classical women, with motherhood, a dimension that they normally ignore.
If you are a partner looking for a Mother’s Day gift as you walk through a department store, it allows you to consider luxury purchases on behalf of your kids.
Bridget, Client Director
An oldie but a goodie! KFC suffered an embarrassing and ironic issue… running out of chicken! They quickly came up with a clever campaign to combat the negative PR they were receiving.
KFC’s cheeky advertising campaign proved that brands can recover from a PR disaster using a little humour, as long as it’s relatable. The creative and messaging was super simple, and it spoke to the intended audience. The campaign rapidly went viral worldwide, all starting from a good old, traditional print ad.
Sometimes the best campaigns come at the expense of a brand poking a little fun at itself. The campaign helped to humanise the brand by allowing customers to sympathise with KFC’s unfortunate misgivings, reminding us all that there are real people on the other side of the serving bench.
Side note: some fantastic campaigns also sprung up as a result of the KFC chicken disaster. Other fast-food competitors were quick to promote they were still open and serving!
Bryony, Social Media Coordinator
Norwich Football Club’s mental health campaign, UK
2023 saw a heavy focus on mental health, especially in spaces where traditionally it hadn’t been spoken about.
Released for World Mental Health Day, Norwich Football Club created an incredibly powerful and emotive video campaign about mental health and being unable to spot the signs.
It works because we all know someone who has battled with mental health issues and now, more than ever, it’s apparent that it’s not always visible. The campaign effectively pulls on emotional levers and works for a mass audience. The inclusion of men is particularly clever as it hits a demographic not usually addressed by mental health messaging.
The advertising campaign encourages us to check in on those around us, even those who appear happiest. A highly effective and important campaign.
Sarah, Account Manager
The Barbie Campaign, and all of the subsequent campaigns that resulted from it, Global
2023 was the year of Barbie-mania! In the lead-up to the movie coming out, and after its release, the marketing world went crazy. All brands were jumping on board the barbie bandwagon. Pink quickly became the new black!
There were so many elements within the campaign that made it so successful. The ads were tailored to their target audience in each country the campaign was presented in, meaning everyone resonated with it much more easily.
The best part about the ensuing Barbie-mania was that other global companies could leverage it. Heineken made a billboard with just the three last letters of its company name ‘ken’. Twisties also used this with their chicKEN-flavoured chips. Heinz made a special “Ken-chup” and “Barbie-que”. It meant that people of all ages could resonate with the campaign.
TJ, PPC & Digital Projects Manager
Honda ‘hands’ campaign, Australia
When you think of Honda you might think vehicles or cars, but nothing crazy, right? Wrong! What if Honda became more than the product they sell?
This campaign successfully showed its audience how innovative Honda is as an engineering company. It focused solely on a person creating new products; going from a single nut to a motorbike, to a car, to a boat. It shared Honda’s evolution over the years in a delightfully sentimental, yet contemporary way.
It enabled customers to build trust in the brand in a fun and engaging way. Whether you have purchased a Honda bike or car previously, or are new to the brand, it instils confidence in their products and where they may be headed in the future.
Guinness, Holding Out For a Zero
St. Patrick’s Day is largely celebrated worldwide, and you’re hardly considered to be participating without a Guinness in hand, but what if you don’t drink?
This year, in the days leading up to the big event, Guinness released their ‘Holding Out For a Zero’ advertising campaign, marketing their non-alcoholic stout to those who don’t consume alcohol, to those who were driving, and to those who simply didn’t want the hangover come 9AM Monday morning.
Simply but creatively made, the spot shows pints full to the brim with the unmistakable Guinness froth ‘singing’ to Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out For a Hero”. With bubbles in the foam making up the miming mouths, the creamy texture of the dome is evidence that no compromise has been made on the look, feel and taste of the iconic beer, encouraging even die-hard fans to enjoy the frivolities of Paddy’s Days past, just without the alcohol.
Campaigns that mean something
Want to create a cut-through advertising campaign that stand out from your competitors? Contact the team at SOAK Creative. We’re a clever bunch of strategic creatives, marketers and storytellers who can help unlock your brand’s potential.