Brand campaigns in 2020 thus far have made extensive use of social media for their success, largely due to major economic shutdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, we were able to locate 10 notable brand campaigns that have succeeded in gaining ground on social media through the use of hashtags, special offers, inclusive language, and more. The 10 brand campaigns that we have detailed below were chosen based on the fact that they were identified to be some of the most successful and viral campaigns of 2020 thus far, largely based on user engagement and popularity. For each brand campaign identified, we have provided a brief overview of what the campaign was aimed at, why it was initiated, how the campaign encouraged and obtained user shares and engagement, as well as metrics of success, as available, for reference.
1. Dove: #ShowUs
- Dove created the #ShowUs social media campaign in 2019, but the campaign has stayed strong through 2020, as it aimed at increasing female empowerment and natural beauty.
- The #ShowUs campaign largely consists of having women and other non-binary individuals from all around the world share how they define beauty and break stereotypes. The hashtag #ShowUs allows this audience to share their photos on social media platforms and have them collected under the tag.
- In 2020, Dove was awarded the Silver Effie award in the 2020 Global Effie Awards for their library of photos under the hashtag #ShowUs that helped fight female beauty stereotypes. The campaign was also awarded the 2019 Cannes Silver Glass: The Lion for Change Award.
- Getty Images is launching an inaugural anniversary project for Dove’s #ShowUs campaign that will offer grants, financial support, and mentorship to photographers and videographers that are working to create similar content to the #ShowUs campaign.
- This campaign can be considered to be a success because of how it connected with consumers on a personal level but also a global scale. It also was not aimed at financial success, but rather increasing overall personal satisfaction in Dove’s consumers.
- Dove’s #ShowUs campaign operated across 4 social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube) and has, so far, compiled more than 10,000 images from users in 39 countries around the world.
2. Spotify: “Wrapped” Campaign
- Spotify created their annual “Wrapped” campaign in 2018, but saw major success from it in early 2020 from the previous year. The Wrapped campaign by Spotify was essentially a concept that showed users their music listening history over the course of 2019, and allowed them to share it on their personal social media profiles with followers.
- This information was broken down into categories for each individual user, including their most played songs, genres, and other interesting statistics. To note, Spotify has over 240 million active users for which this data was presented in the Wrapped campaign.
- Spotify experienced engagement from more than 60 million users in and their Wrapped campaign by early 2020, and user Wrapped playlists have been streamed more than 3 billion times since they were announced at the end of 2019. On Twitter, the Spotify 2019 Wrapped campaign was mentioned by users in more than 1.2 million posts by early 2020.
- Spotify’s Wrapped campaign was initially aimed at creating a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in users that would, in turn, create more user engagement and even draw in new users.
- Spotify users that interacted with their Wrapped statistics and playlists were given the ability to share their listening history with others on social media platforms, which increased user engagement and caused non-Spotify users to want to try the platform out so that they could see similar data points about themselves.
3. Pantone: “Big Game Color Commentary” Campaign
- In very early 2020, right before the Super Bowl, Pantone announced that they would be running a Color Commentary campaign on social media that would run live during the Super Bowl. This campaign was initiated because the two teams playing in the 2020 Super Bowl — the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers — both had very similar color schemes.
- Pantone ran the campaign for one day (the day of the 2020 Super Bowl) via their Twitter and Instagram accounts, especially using Instagram Stories. The concept was geared around the fact that in Pantone’s color matching system, the red colors used by both teams were only a single point apart — Kansas City Chiefs red matched with Pantone’s 186C, while the San Francisco 49ers red matched with Pantone’s 187C.
- The campaign itself was not aimed at any in-depth or important matters going on in society, but rather was used by Pantone as an interesting point to spark conversation amongst consumers. The relationship with the 2020 Super Bowl made it easier for Pantone to gain a foothold in the market since they attached themselves to a widely-discussed topic at the time.
- By using the similarities in colors by the teams competing in the 2020 Super Bowl, Pantone was able to gain exposure to the 100 million forecasted viewers of the game.
- Pantone published their Color Commentary on social media to capture the attention of those that might be watching the 2020 Super Bowl via their mobile devices, or even be using it as a second screen whilst watching the game.
- Pantone succeeded with this campaign because they were not one of the official sponsors that paid more than $5 million for a designated TV commercial slot during the 2020 Super Bowl, but instead capitalized on users being on their mobile devices during said commercials. This campaign helped pantone connect with consumers on something that was already important to them and relate it to their own brand to increase awareness.
4. Netflix: “Wanna Talk About It?” Campaign
- In April 2020, Netflix partnered with Instagram to produce a series that would stream over Instagram Series called “Wanna Talk About It?” and was aimed at helping young adults take care of themselves during quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The “Wanna Talk About It?” series ran live every Thursday at 4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET up through May 14, 2020. Each episode featured a different star from Netflix films and shows that talked with trusted mental health experts from national organizations about challenges faced during the pandemic and how to overcome them.
- To help publicize this campaign and series, Netflix launched a trailer that explained the concepts that would be discussed in a Q&A format, as well as the stars that would be participating in each weekly episode.
- This campaign was considered a success by Netflix because it was aimed at a serious issue affecting young people everywhere. By including popular stars and having them discuss issues that were likely being experienced by Netflix viewers, Netflix was able to increase awareness for an emerging problem, while also widening their brand presence and appearing as sensitive to their communities.
5. Coors Light: #CouldUseABeer
- Coors Light came out with their new campaign “CouldUseABeer in April 2020 that included free beer giveaways on a massive level, and the ability for users to bond over difficult times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This #CouldUseABeer campaign offered social media followers the chance to share how they were getting through hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting their idea that “sharing a beer has made the hard times better.” This was an attempt by the brand to get consumers to respond to positive messaging, which in turn boosted participation and sales.
- As part of the campaign, users could share posts with the hashtag #CouldUseABeer, in addition to sending virtual rounds of beer to friends and even offering recipes that used Coors Light as an ingredient.
- Furthermore, Coors Light offered reimbursements (essentially free beer) to individuals that purchased a 6-pack of the beer during the COVID-19 pandemic and used the hashtag #CouldUseABeer, up until the company bought 500,000 beers. Eventually, other beer brands attempted to follow suite with this campaign — Busch offered to give an entire year’s worth of beer to any couples that had to cancel their weddings before May 1, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As another component to the campaign, Coors Light designed and produced merchandise, particularly comfort clothing (i.e. sweatshirts, sweatpants, etc.) that referenced the brand and relaxing at home with Coors Light. All of the proceeds from this merchandise was donated by Coors to a relief fund for those heavily impacted by COVID-19.
- To increase follower participation and engagement, Coors Light build on this campaign with follow-up campaigns, including their “Made to Chill” campaign and “Official Beer of ‘Working’ Remotely” campaign, as well as having virtual, live happy hours with NFL players.
6. Proctor & Gamble: #DistanceDance
- At the beginning of April 2020, Proctor & Gamble began a fundraising effort in conjunction with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio to launch a campaign on the social media platform called #DistanceDance that would promote safe practices during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio, including staying home and social distancing.
- Proctor & Gamble was able to launch their #DistanceDance campaign on TikTok with D’Amelio by working with the Ohio Governor, P&G’s agency partner, Grey, and TikTok to produce a creative and interactive campaign that would promote user engagement, reenactment, and safety during hard times.
- The #DistanceDance campaign got over 8 billion views worldwide, had over 1.7 million imitation dances reposted on TikTok by other uses including celebrities, athletes, and even local families. The campaign also was built on completely donated time as an effort to fight COVID-19, meaning that it had no cost to produce and increased consumer awareness. P&G also donated money to Feeding America and Matthew25 for the first 3 million views of the original #DistanceDance video, which further prompted outside donations towards the cause.
- P&G chose to use D’Amelia to sponsor the #DistanceDance campaign because at the time, she had the most followers of any user on the platform, and she also provided a social media platform for the brand to spread their message.
7. Zoom: Virtual Background Contest
- The video telecommunication platform Zoom created a monthly virtual background contest that platform users could participate in to see who could create the best background, and thus win a prize form the company.
- The details surrounding the monthly background contest are no longer posted on Zoom’s website. However, the contest was shared on all social media platforms, especially Facebook.
- Since the background contest has ended, Zoom has created new competitions and challenges for users to participate in that offered users prizes including the latest Zoom technology, venture capital funding, and even additional support at no extra cost from the brand.
- Users were prompted to enter into the campaign using a Google Form and a screenshot of their newly-created Zoom backgrounds in order to enter to win. The brand offers anywhere from 1-3 monthly winners for each of their contest, including the Background Challenge. The initial background contest ended up resulting in Zoom creating an entirely new feature for their platform — video backgrounds.
- Users were further encouraged to participate and spread this contest by sharing examples of the challenge taking place in their work meetings. Since many people were working from home because of COVID-19, many were using Zoom for work communications. By having a mini background contest within each meeting, the software was used more efficiently with increased employee participation, which resulted in increased positivity from users on the brand, as well as increased employee satisfaction during a difficult time.
8. Burger King: “The Moldy Whopper”
- In February 2020, Burger King released a controversial, anti-preservative ad campaign that featured a moldy whopper — their signature sandwich — to promote the brand’s switch to no longer using artificial preservatives in their foods.
- The video campaign, which was streamed in commercials and over online social media platforms that was aimed at consumers in the 18-24 age group to encourage them to trust and try the brand by appreciating their honesty and concern for healthier alternatives. Burger King reports that the initially created the campaign with the mindset that consumers like real food better, and thus would respond positively.
- The Burger King brand created a media strategy to show the ad to people that were more likely to be open-minded. The company decided not to hold focus groups on the ad, as they did not believe the ad would test will with the general public. The ad was shown primarily over Facebook and Twitter in the U.S., print in Stockholm, Sweden, and movie/TV in other areas.
- Only a month after the campaign went live, Burger King had experienced more than 8.4 billion organic impressions with their ads, the video had been streamed 1.4 million minutes on Facebook alone, with 39% of these viewers watching the entire video from start to finish. On Twitter, the moldy burger campaign exceeded the organic benchmark by 159% and had view counts upwards of 187% more than planned. Over Instagram, engagement exceeded benchmarks by 27% via in-feed photos and 59% in IG Stories. Nationwide, Burger King’s moldy burger campaign had 30% population awareness, which is considered to be extremely high.
- The type of language used in the Burger King Moldy Whopper campaign was aimed at redefining what was considered positive language by algorithms, since much of the terminology in the campaign was negative, but made conversely-related positive points. This was further aimed at creating long-term sales, not short-term sales, but targeting consumers with a sensitive point of information at a time when health was of high-importance to consumers everywhere.
9. Word Health Organization (WHO): #BeActive
- The World Health Organization (WHO) created a social media hashtag, #HealthyAtHome that has been utilized over the course of 2020 so far in aims to preventing the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic and staying healthy while quarantining at home to reduce the spread. This #HealthyAtHome hashtag was part of WHO’s campaign #BeActive campaign and was the primary tag for most users.
- WHO named their campaign #HealthAtHome, and it operated primarily over social media by promoting healthy practices during COVID-19 shutdowns, such as physical activity, being active, mental health, tobacco, parenting, and healthy eating.
- The #BeActive campaign was launched in conjunction with the UN, FIFA, and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to show how the WHO was promoting physical activity, overall health, and disease prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. The backing of these organizations helped increase awareness of the campaign by consumers globally, with the intent of increasing global physical activity by 15%.
- This campaign partnered with world-famous football (American soccer) players to help convey WHO guidance recommendations and the importance of physical activity for overall health during COVID. The ad campaign took place over all social media platforms, but had a major impact on Twitter audiences. To help promote influencers on these platforms to share their content, the WHO offered free advertising to any that shared.
10. Volkswagen: “Last Mile” Campaign
- In the very beginning of 2020, Volkswagen released an animated film and visual campaign that was aimed at “saying goodbye” to their famous car, the Volkswagen Beetle. The film and visuals were spread using the hashtag #TheLastMile on social media platforms; the brand offered financial compensation to influencers that were willing to share the content with their followers.
- This ad campaign emitted feelings of memory, reminiscing, and yearning for consumers that once had or enjoyed the Volkswagen Beetle. Through the campaign, Volkswagen was able to increase sales of the last non-electric Beetle the brand would ever manufacture, while also promoting their ideals for cleaner and more efficient transportation.
- The animated film that was part of the Last Mile campaign was streamed on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter; Volkswagen invested 100% of their advertising funds into Facebook marketing, and Facebook and Instagram received the largest interactions with the campaign.
- The #LastMile campaign evoked a sense of brand loyalty amongst consumers, which helped to drive consumer engagement with the ad campaign, further increasing sales. There were references to The Beatles’ song “Let it Be,” changes in the production of the VW Beetle over the course of its lifetime, and a reference to the scene in Footloose of Ren driving the classic Beetle, so as to increase consumer sentiment and engagement.
- The 90-second animated film about the Volkswagen Beetle was also aired on three of the screens in Times Square in NYC, as well as in prime TV commercial time frames on New Years Eve 2019 to maximize viewership.