The Most Memorable Marketing Moments of 2013 – For Better or For Worse

What makes marketing memorable? More often that not it’s big FAILS. When marketing goes bad it goes viral. It becomes a meme, remixed on on YouTube, reviewed on a thousand blogs, and, fingers crossed, a lesson to other marketeers in what not to do. Pop culture as a whole loves to revel in failures – sad but true! However, good marketing can live forever. It becomes a beacon of inspiration. A goal that every brand and marketer wants to achieve. A how to of success. But, it also sets the bar pretty high.

2014 is literarily around the corner and in the spirit of list posting here’s a brief run down on some of the most memorable marketing moments of 2013 – for better or for worse. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments below.

Royal-baby Mania

Prince George’s birth in July unleashed a wave of hype across global media. Before the baby was even born media masses gathered outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London, UK. Television, print, and the web were flooded with photos and videos of both pre and post birth hoopla.

Oreo Cookie Super Bowl Tweet

This may go down in social media history as one of the most brilliant examples of ad hoc advertising. With the lights out during the Super Bowl, the biggest sports and advertising night in the US, Oreo cookie execs and their marketing agency were the first brand to seize an opportunity of a lifetime. The resulting ad/tweet – captioned “You can still dunk in the dark” – went on to be retweeted and “favourited” more than 18,000 times on Twitter.

Coca-Cola – The Sharing Can

If you follow this blog you know how big a fan I am of Coca-Cola. They are by far the kings of marketing, advertising, social media, community, etc. in 2013 – in my humble opinion. Their Share Happiness campaign running concurrent with their Open Happiness campaign has gained Coca-Cola more brand awareness and social footprint than any other brand, of all time I suspect. See my other posts on Coca-Cola.

Grand Theft Auto V – The Most Expensive Game Ever

Rockstar Games reportedly spent $115 million developing Grand Theft Auto V and $150 million on marketing – and the game is expected to make almost six times that much in sales over the course of its first year. Where was that $150 million on marketing spent? Everywhere! Months leading up to the release of the game back in September GTAV ads could be spotted on just about every possible TV, radio, print, and web spot imaginable including a ton of cross-marketing tactics.

Nokia and Blackberry’s Fall from Grace

This is a perfect example of how dominant brands can fall from grace when they let their technology stagnate. Nokia and Blackberry have done little if anything over the years to maintain their stronghold on the smartphone market. These giants suffered their darkest year. Nokia’s devices division was acquired by Microsoft for $4.6 billion and BlackBerry agreed to sell to the Fairfax Financial consortium for $3 billion. A drop in the pond considering Apple has a market capitalisation of half a trillion dollars.

Miley Cyrus

We did say for better or for worse! Well, this was probably the worst moment for pop culture in 2013. I’m continually amazed with the amount of attention this one ridiculous, meaningless, and really not that interesting or shocking of a moment had on social media and regular media this year. Honestly who cares? Billions, that’s who! There’s no denying that Miley intentionally or not pulled off one of the biggest moments in pop culture this year and has successfully continued to leverage the hype – you can’t buy brand equity like this!

Dove – Real Beauty Sketches

Knowing that only %4 of women around the world consider themselves beautiful Dove’s social experiment proved to women around the world that they are more beautiful than they think. This powerful ad gained world wide press and has been viewed on over 60 million times on YouTube and is still being talked about. Much more than a soulless sales pitch this ad hit a nerve with millions of women, it’s meaningful, honest, and most importantly rememberable.

Kmart – Ship My Pants and Show Your Joe

Nothing like a good controversy to get the marketing juices flowing. I love these ads. They are brilliantly clever in their juvenile simplicity. The humour may be distasteful for many but they are funny as hell and brought Kmart to new heights this year on social media. See the Video of the Week post this.

Van Damme – The Epic Split

He’s back and so are his epic splits! Over the past year Van Damme championed a handful of absurd GoDaddy commercials and an insane Volvo Trucks ad featuring his epic splits. See the Video of the Week post on this.

WestJet Airlines Christmas Miracle

This might be the most inspiring and intelligent marketing campaign I’ve seen all year!

West Jet setup a special booth at Pearson International Airport in Toronto where passengers had the opportunity to speak with Santa on screen and make Christmas wishes. What they didn’t know was that Santa was in the other room and it was happening in real time. As passengers made their wish lists, West Jet employees marked everything down on paper and started shopping.

Water Is Life – Hashtag Kill

This is unique, but it was added to the list because this may be one of the most groundbreaking pieces of social good advertising this year.

This campaign garnered world press and in turn raised enough money through donations to provide clean water for over 1 million people this year. So next time something doesn’t go your way think twice before you tweet some random non-sense with #firstworldproblems.

Dunkin’ Donuts – Charcoal Donut

Seriously, what were they thinking? This Dunkin’ Donuts ad in Thailand created global uproar due to it’s racist nature. What did CEO Nadim Salhani have to say about it, “We’re not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don’t get it. What’s the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?”

The Hobbit – A Journey Through Middle-Earth

Seriously one of the coolest movie campaigns I’ve ever seen!

This Chrome experiment, launched before the movie release, brings the Hobbit to your laptop, phone, or tablet. The site starts on an interactive map of Middle-earth built with just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can zoom in to explore locations (more are coming in the next few weeks), click on each one to learn its history and meet the characters who inhabit it, as well as “test your wits on a unique survival challenge.”

But, you gotta see it to believe it!

So there you have it, some of the most memorable marketing moments of 2013. It will be interesting to see if and how some of these brands will be able to top their achievements in 2014 and if those who failed will learn from it.

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