Top 10 Ad Campaigns of 2018

Annie Jackson

Annie Jackson

January 25, 2019

9 mins read

Best Ad Campaigns of 2018

As the first month of 2019 draws to a close, we take the time to reflect on some of the best ad campaigns we saw throughout the last year. From big brands to small budgets find out what we think are the top 10 ad campaigns of 2018.

KFC’s – ‘FCK’

KFC faced disaster in February 2018 when it was forced to shut hundreds of restaurants due to it running out of chicken! In addition to the obvious hit to its business, the shortage threatened to derail the brand – so how were its marketers going to respond?

Rather than take a serious tone, KFC instead chose modern wit and humour to address its hundreds of disgruntled customers. KFC cleverly rearranged the letters of its name to spell FCK, and used this in print to apologise for the mess-up. This ad, created by Mother London, demonstrates how strength in a relationship between agency and brand can really ensure that ‘no press is bad press’. This brave move perfectly struck the balance between a sincere apology and one that used humour to remain on-brand and modernise the fast-food chain.

BrewDog – ‘Rate My Beer’

Having a BrewDog bar just around the corner, here at Seed we are quite the fans of the edgy bottle of beer. Throughout 2018 BrewDog set out to establish itself as a well-known household brand while still retaining its unique ‘outsider’ status. In September the Scottish beer company decided to take its biggest corporate competitors head-on, in a creative and innovative way.

The campaign took the overall consumer score of big larger brands from the website, and put them right next to that of BrewDog’s Punk IPA. It directly compared their score of 97/100 to Budweiser’s 0/100, Carling’s 1/100, Fosters’ 3/100 and Stella Artois’ 9/100. However, shaming was not enough, BrewDog went one step further and also parodied the brands’ taglines. In Budweiser’s case, asking ‘Wassup Bud’ on the ad. This direct and competitive advertising put the question of taste at the front of consumers minds. It not only highlighted BrewDog’s high score amongst the public but, most importantly, got them noticed!

Lloyds Bank – ‘#GetTheInsideOut’

Last year Lloyds Bank, and their agency adam&eveDDB, teamed up with Mental Health UK to help normalise the topic of mental health in society. The campaign featured an array of famous faces, as well as Lloyds staff, playing a guessing game with sticky notes on their foreheads. Instead of celebrities, the sticky notes each detailed a non-visible health condition such as bipolar, bulimia and depression.

The response to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with more and more people opening up conversations surrounding the topic of mental health. The hashtag #GetTheInsideOut was used more than 10,000 times on Twitter and it is still being used months later. It was fantastic to see a large and well-known company attempting to dissolve the stigma with mental health. With one in four people suffering from a mental health issue at some point in their life, it would be great to see more promotion throughout 2019.

Nationwide – ‘#TogetherAgainstHate’

Nationwide was another large bank investing in an ad campaign calling out unacceptable behaviour in society. In 2018 Nationwide partnered with McCain’s and Maltesers to highlight the awful extent of abusive behaviour online. They exposed the hateful social media posts sent to the real people cast in their ads. These vile comments were added to the existing ads customers had already seen across their televisions.

The #TogetherAgainstHate campaign caught viewers’ imaginations the moment it aired. The hashtag generated millions of impressions, creating online solidarity to stand up to hateful comments. With the rise of an online world, through social media and other platforms, Nationwide’s successful ad proves that consumers will support brands prepared to stand up to hate and take action.

Lacoste – ‘Save Our Species’

The power of one of the most distinct logo designs in the world! In 2018 the French fashion company Lacoste decided to ditch the 85-year-old logo as part of one of its global campaigns. Lacoste partnered with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and replaced the famous crocodile with 10 rare and endangered animals. The number of shirts available with each logo matched the number of the corresponding animals left in the wild.

Whether it be the context behind the campaign story or simply the appearance of the limited edition range, it was so popular the collection completely sold out. Lacoste successfully raised awareness of the decline in nature and helped towards the increased movement in 2018 for combatting this devastating occurrence. With the WWF having recently released a statement which explained the earth had now seen a loss of almost 50% of nature, it is great to see some global brands finally bringing this troubling issue into the spotlight.

CALM – ‘Project 84’

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a male suicide prevention charity, launched Project 84 in March 2018. This striking and unforgettable campaign saw 84 male statues placed on top of ITV’s This Morning studio. This installation reflected the shocking statistic that 84 men a week commit suicide in the UK alone, and each statue was modelled on a real man who had taken his own life.

This monumental campaign brought friends and relatives together, opening up and sharing stories from their own life experiences. Not only did Project 84 evoke an incredibly emotional response across the entirety of the UK, but it also resulted in 34% more people reaching out to CALM for help following its week display. This campaign sought to break down the stigma that men cannot open up and talk about their feelings and fought to raise voices in taking a stand against suicide. CALM and Project 84 formed part of the #StandAgainstSuicide movement which, thankfully, received enough signatures due to this campaign to take the debate to parliament.

Twitter – ‘Not a Retail Store’

A great example of successful brandjacking! Twitter masterfully used the notorious John Lewis Christmas ad in December 2018 to increase their own awareness. Twitter’s ad features an American man named ‘John Lewis’ who happens to hold the handle @johnlewis. Every year, with the release of the Christmas ad, he is bombarded with messages mistaking him for the retail store.

This clever and witty ad saw social media mentions of over 29,000. Twitter’s humoured campaign is the perfect example of how a brand can successfully tap into the attention of another if they can correctly address a unique angle. This ad campaign stands out in 2018 due to the real story behind it, poor John Lewis we cannot imagine the number of times his phone buzzes around Christmas time! Seed has taken bets as to how much John Lewis (the retail store) has offered John Lewis (the man) for his Twitter handle. How much would you guess?

Nike – ‘LDNR’

In 2018 Nike launched a strong ad campaign featuring a host of British sporting stars. Nike convinced these athletes to explain why it’s great to be a Londoner. Among the famous faces were Mo Farah, Nathanial Chalobah and Harry Kane, they were featured performing the sport they love in the unforgiving urban environment of London.

This ad campaign celebrates people who, despite living in busy and chaotic London, remain dedicated to pursuing their passion for a sport. The optimistic and motivational ad really does inspire generations of all ages to pick up a pair of (Nike) trainers and get out into the world. A sense of pride is taken away from the ad, not just for London, but for any community you surround yourself in. So, Brightoners, what makes this city so great?

Amazon – ‘Alexa Lost Her Voice’

Although Amazon’s ‘Alexa lost her voice’ ad first aired during the 2018 Super Bowl, it has definitely made an impact across the pond in the UK. In the commercial, the smart assistant ‘Alexa’ loses her voice and is replaced by a multitude of celebrities. The ad features chef Gordon Ramsay and rapper Cardi B shouting at customers for asking ‘silly’ questions.

Amazon’s funny ad campaign has been viewed nearly 30 million times on Youtube. But, more than this, Amazon has made consumers question why we turn to A.I more and more in society to guide our lives. The conclusion of the ad, in which Alexa states “Thanks guys, but I’ll take it from here’”, answers that very same question. Ask humans to help us with every random question, and somebody is going to snap pretty quick, but ask Alexa (the smart assistant) and the advanced technology can take it all in stride. In short, Alexa is successful because she is Alexa.

The £50 Christmas Ad – ‘Love is a Gift’

Proving you don’t need a big budget to make a winning ad campaign! Every year people across the UK get excited about John Lewis’ big Christmas ad reveal. But, in 2018 a short film made by one man on a £50 budget swooped in and stole the hearts of thousands. Phil Beastall created the ad ‘Love is a Gift’, which features a man counting down the days to Christmas as he waits to open one special present. However, when the exciting day arrives there is a heartbreaking twist, it is a final tape recording from his mum who has passed away.

Although this film was first made in 2014, the power of social media shone through when the video became a sensation overnight due to thousands of online shares. People across the country started comparing the small budget ad to the £7 million John Lewis ad ‘#EltonJohnLewis’. The raw emotion of the small-time campaign eloquently reminded consumers that the story behind an ad is key. You can have all the bells and whistles, money or celebrities in the world but if your story is weak and unrelatable it won’t connect with people. So, a round of applause for Phil Beastall – maybe 2019 will see other small brands or individuals giving the largest competitors a run for their money?

What Ad Campaigns Will 2019 Bring?

2018 was a great year for ad campaigns, with new techniques and styles coming through from creative agencies. The power of a strong relationship between brand and agency has never been more important to successfully make an impact. The fight for consumer attention continues and we cannot wait to see what 2019 brings.

Looking for Marketing Support?

If you are looking for a digital marketing agency to help you with your advertising, get in touch today!