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20 of the best marketing campaigns from 2019 (so far)

20 of the best marketing campaigns from 2019 (so far)

What digital marketing campaigns in early 2019 drove awareness for brands in finance, food & beverage, automotive, retail, and travel & hospitality? Discover the mechanics of some of the best marketing campaigns, and what hashtags were trending. Also, learn which brands blundered and how they got back on their feet.

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The first half of 2019 passed in the blink of an eye. From the Superbowl to Mother’s Day, January through June offered countless opportunities for brands to make their mark on social media. Which brands capitalized on these moments or even created their own to spark social chatter through their marketing campaigns? Which ones suffered reputational damage from social blunders or got caught up in the politics of the day?

Using Talkwalker’s leading social media analytics platform, I examined 2019 campaigns in the finance, food and beverage, automotive, retail, and travel and hospitality industries. Continue reading for examples from Target, Chase, Chobani and others. You’ll learn which brands had the best marketing campaigns and which ones hit a few bumps in the road. Get inspired to plan your social media strategy to drive brand awareness and learn how to overcome pitfalls.

Best marketing campaigns and blunders in finance

Mastercard marketing camapaign Priceless Surprises

Mastercard's #PricelessSurprises' KPIs
(hashtag mentions: 33.8k: engagement: 136.8k)

Mastercard, the multinational financial services corporation, saw a significant surge in social media mentions in February thanks to its #PricelessSurprises campaign around the 2019 GRAMMY Awards®. The initiative rewarded cardholders with access to a private show and backstage meet and greet with recording artist Camila Cabello, in the lead up to the 61st GRAMMY Awards®. Mastercard’s campaign and related sweepstakes were embraced by enthusiastic fans making it the brand’s most talked about promotion in early 2019.

Takeaways: Reward brand followers with exclusive opportunities and leverage them with fun hashtags on social media. Not everyone has the budget or access to a pop star, so get creative. For instance, give your most loyal followers first stab at obtaining a new product or service.

Morgan Stanley, the investment bank and financial service company, scored a hole-in-one for its user-generated and social good campaigns featuring Justin Rose, superstar golfer and brand ambassador. The social media giveaway #JustinRoseChallenge, prompted people to share videos and photos of their most challenging golf shots on Twitter or Instagram for the chance to win high-end golf clubs.

The investment bank also generated buzz with its Eagles For Impact campaign, which used the #EagleUp hashtag. For each eagle made by Justin Rose at the Players Tournament, Morgan Stanley donated $5,000 to Book Trust, a children’s literacy charity.

Justin Rose Challenge Marketing Campaign

KPIs for the #JustinRoseChallenge (mentions: 4.1k; engagement: 4.9k)
compared to #EagleUp

Takeaways: User-generated content isn’t just a fad--it’s here to stay. Encouraging followers to share content gives them a voice and sense of community. User-generated content also highlights consumer trust over brand-speak. Another thing people love is supporting a good cause. Find a charitable initiative your brand supports and involve your social media followers.

Chase, the US consumer and commercial bank, went into crisis communication mode after tweeting financial advice using the popular #MondayMotivation hashtag. Chase quickly learned that people don’t like being told they are in financial straits due to buying coffee and not eating meals at home. This is especially the case when the advice comes from a bank that received bailout money.

In a 24-hour period, Chase was the subject of more than 3,000 critical mentions from influential figures including Elizabeth Warren and members of the public. Chase responded by deleting the tweet and promised to be more sensitive in the future.

Chase marketing campaign KPIs MondayMotivation

Chase and #MondayMotivation KPIs
(hashtag mentions: 3.7K; engagement: 47.3K)

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Takeaways: Give extra thought to how your posts will be perceived. Are you being tone deaf when your intention is to share well-intended advice or humor? Should you blunder, be quick to own up to your mistake. A sincere apology and acknowledgement shows your brand is listening and wants to do good by consumers.

Capital One, the bank holding company, found itself in the hot seat for being associated with controversial Fox News host Tucker Carlson. After a series of offensive remarks during a news broadcast, people took to social media demanding that advertisers boycott the show. Capital One was among the many brands caught in the crossfire.

They responded by letting the public know that Capital One had not been a sponsor of the show since 2018. Even after their response, the hashtags #BoycottTuckerCarlson (19.1K mentions) and #FireTuckerCarlson (17.2K mentions) were the most widely used in association with Capital One in early 2019.

Takeaway: It is critical to regularly monitor your brand’s reputation on social media. Be on the lookout for reputational damage and be prepared to respond.

Mention over time chase marketing campaign

Capital One's #BoycottTuckerCarlson (hashtag mentions: 19.1K; engagement: 71.3K)
and #FireTuckerCarlson KPIs (hashtag mentions: 17.2K; engagement: 33.6K)

Best marketing campaigns and blunders in the food & beverage industry

Pepsi hit the ground running during the Superbowl with the campaign, Is Pepsi OK?, a response to the age-old Coke vs. Pepsi wars. A humorous commercial starring Steve Carrell, Cardi B., and Lil Jon, told the world that Pepsi is more than OK. Combined with paid social media posts by celebrity influencers including Jay Pharoah, the hashtag #PepsiMoreThanOK took off.

In a related sweepstakes, people were encouraged to share the hashtag #PepsiSweepstakesOK each time they heard “OK” during the game and commercials to win prizes.

Pepsi marketing campaign hashtag KPIs

#PepsiMoreThanOK (hashtag mentions 55.6k; engagement: 465.1k) vs
#PepsiSweepstakesOK (hashtag mentions 20.8k, engagement 15.7k)

Takeaways: A clever campaign supported with organic and sponsored posts from the right influencers can have a far reach. Explore ways to work with micro and macro influencers to boost your brand’s reach.

Chobani, America’s leading greek yogurt brand is led by Hamdi Ukulaya, a CEO best known for his commitment to social good. In May 2019, he took a stand against childhood hunger by paying more than half of the $77,000 student lunch debt at Warwick Public School in Rhode Island.

The donation was in response to a school policy that would serve cold jelly sandwiches to students who owed money on their accounts. Hamdi shared a heartfelt video on social media urging other businesses to help eliminate childhood hunger. The video combined with news of the donation caused Chobani’s social media channel to earn an increase in mentions with the hashtag #WarwickPublicSchools.

Chobani marketing campaign

Chobani and #WarwickPublicSchools' KPIs
(hashtag mentions 6.4k, engagement 64.1k)

Takeaway: Authenticity is one of the most important traits for a brand on social media. Hamdi Ukulaya’s video was genuine and from the heart. It didn’t come off as a brand promotion effort around a donation. Instead, it was a call to action for a cause that is central to the brand’s values.

Dunkin’ Donuts delighted sugar addicts on #NationalDonutDay with the offer of a free donut with the purchase of any beverage. Dunkin’ also created content on its social media channels to help fans #DunkOut (3.7K mentions) and take a break to celebrate National Donut Day.

Competitor, Krispy Kreme didn’t fall behind and offered a free donut to everyone who visited a store that day, with no purchase necessary. Wondering how they did? Dunkin drove the conversation, which makes sense given that they have more than double the number of KrispyKreme store locations.

Takeaway: Campaigns around awareness days can be a fun an easy way to give your brand a boost. Brands can create their own day or piggyback on an existing day. To get started, research dates that align with your brand, take a look at what competitors have done in the space, assign a hashtag, and promote early.

Dunkin marketing campaign

IHOP, the pancake house restaurant chain’s attempt at humor on Mother’s Day led to an increase in negative social media mentions from an angry crowd. The chain received backlash for Twitter and Instagram posts that shared a sonogram image of a stack of pancakes inside a womb. The message read, “If you have pancakes in your tum tum, does that make you a pancake mum mum? Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the moms out there!”

Responses ranged from critiques of their anatomical error (a stomach isn’t a uterus) to uproar about the timing of the post. That same week, women’s reproductive rights were challenged in parts of the United States. IHOP did not respond to critiques and stood by the post which remains on their feed.

Takeaway: Humor is in the eye of the beholder. Think twice before you post and have someone else read in between the lines. If you prefer to avoid damage control, keep posts clear of controversial topics. In this case, IHOP opted for strategic silence during a time of crisis. It is up to each brand to determine what approach works best for each situation.

Best marketing campaigns and blunders in the automotive industry

BMW marketing campaign Road to Coachella

#RoadtoCoachella KPIs (hashtag mentions 1.6k; engagement 30.9k)

BMW took to the desert with an experiential marketing campaign to engage Millennials and Gen Z at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The #RoadtoCoachella experience featured a fleet of BMWs wrapped in designs created by pop star Khalid. BMW leveraged the power of influencers such as Paris Hilton, Dorothy Wang, and others to document their road trip to Coachella. The campaign included pit-stops that held fan giveaways, concerts, food trucks, and other exclusive experiences.

Takeaway: Know the audience you want to reach. Speak their cultural language, leverage their cultural currency, and reach them at events that matter most. Was BMW’s creative and very elaborate campaign a success given the number of mentions received? Or was the goal to make a lasting impression and cultivate Millennials and Gen Z as future consumers?

Honda started the year on a strong note with sponsorship of the National Hockey League All-Star Game. The event took place in January over the course of a weekend that included a red carpet show, autograph sessions, and a skills competition. The fanfare led to a flurry of media mentions with the hashtag #NHLAllStar. That same month, Honda became the official automobile sponsor of Team Liquid, a popular eSports team. News of their partnership with an emerging platform led to an increase in social chatter.

Tesla is among a handful of companies in which brand awareness is tied to the actions of its CEO. Tesla’s Elon Musk is best known for SpaceX, market-moving tweets, and rapping about internet-famous gorillas.

In early 2019, #ElonMusk was one of the most popular hashtags associated with Tesla. In February, the tech billionaire teamed up with YouTube star, PewDiePie to host the popular “Meme Review” segment on his show. Musk teamed up with Justin Roiland, one of the creators of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, to rate memes and share witty commentary. The YouTube video received more than 20 million views, making it one of the most viral posts associated with the Tesla brand.

Takeaway: Since Tesla doesn’t spend any money on advertising, their CEO’s social media activity is critical to driving awareness for the brand. However, having a “loud” CEO associated with numerous initiatives comes with its pros and cons. Establish guidelines and have a damage control plan in place to avoid problematic situations.

tesla marketing campaign Word cloud

Chevrolet, the American automobile division of General Motors, saw a spike in social media mentions in January around its campaign featuring the new Silverado pickup truck. The first surge came from sponsorship of HQ Trivia, the popular app and mobile trivia game, where they raffled a truck. On the same day, Chevrolet aired a television commercial that featured lyrics from the 1970s hit "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll by Donnie and Marie Osmond.

An unexpected tweet and Facebook post from Donnie helped the campaign gain additional momentum and excitement from fans.

Takeaway: Timing is everything. If you’re looking to make a splash, be strategic about the timing of your campaign. The release of Chevy’s commercial combined with the HQ sponsorship helped create a centralized social media moment for Silverado.

Best marketing campaigns and blunders in travel and hospitality

Jetblue BTS marketing campaign KPIs

JetBlue's #BoyWithLuv and #BTSxMetLife
(hashtag mentions 9.8k; engagement 58.8k)

JetBlue, the US based airline, is known for small touches that make passengers happy, such as free unlimited snacks, and most recently, their selection of in-flight music. In May, a BTS song that was played during a flight’s take-off resulted in major love from fans on social media. A music blogger on-board the flight who was enroute to a BTS concert tweeted about the experience.

The post’s engagement resulted in the hashtags #BoyWithLuv (name of the song) and #BTSxMetLife (performance venue) among the most shared tags related to JetBlue in early 2019.

Takeaway: “Play to the crowd” is a theme that keeps coming up. A small gesture from the flight crew went a long way with passengers who were quick to rave about an experience and plug a brand on social media.

Marriott was the subject of criticism when the Marriot Marquis in New York City was selected as the venue to host an event honoring far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. As a result, the hashtag #CancelBolsonaro dominated Marriott’s social media feeds in the first half of 2019. The company’s CEO Arne Sorenson was quick to share Marriott’s views in a LinkedIn post that explained, “everyone is welcome at the hotel”.

Takeaway: Social listening is essential when it comes to defending your brand’s reputation online. In response to criticism, Marriott was prepared to share and defend its brand values on social media. Be prepared by routinely monitoring the conversation around your brand and plan ahead by identifying a spokesperson, message, and platforms.

Marriot marketing campaign

Marriott & #CancelBolsonaro KPIs (mentions 9.3k; engagement 73.8k)

Royal Carribean strives for perfection when it comes to sea voyages. In May, the cruise line took things a step further with the $250 million transformation of Perfect Day at CocoCay, their private island retreat for passengers in the Bahamas. The hashtag #PerfectDayatCocoCay experienced an increase in mentions with the unveiling of the island, with over 2,900 occurences and 51.6k interactions. In addition to being included in news mentions, the hashtag has been used by vacation-goers when posting pictures of fun in the sun.

Takeaways: User-generated content is the best testimonial for your brand. Whether you’re a brick and mortar location or tourist destination, create a fun hashtag for visitors to capture their visit.

Best marketing campaign call to action

Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is known for its focus on regional marine life and conservation efforts. In order to raise awareness beyond their visitor base, the aquarium has turned to social media with a fun approach that combines science, pop culture, and humor.

In early 2019, the aquarium’s most popular hashtag #ValentineASpecies, resulted in nearly two thousand user-generated love poems featuring sea creatures.

Takeaways: Make your content relatable, fun, and relevant to your audience. User-generated content goes beyond asking followers to share selfies. Start a hashtag game that inspires people to create puns and other creative content related to your brand.

Best marketing campaigns in retail

CVS Pharmacy is on a mission to promote wellness and self-esteem by creating new standards of beauty. The Beauty Mark campaign features authentic and diverse images of models in store beauty aisles. To support the initiative on social media, CVS created the hashtag #beautyunaltered and encouraged consumers to post unfiltered and unaltered pictures of themselves. The results: 2.9k mentions and over 1,000 interactions.

The progressive and well-received campaign took off in January when CVS revealed their updated beauty aisles during an event in Times Square.

Takeaway: If you aren’t already incorporating user-generated content in your campaigns, now is the time to start. Consumers are eager to take an active role in creating content and it creates a credibility for your brand.

Target BTS influencer campaign

Target & BTS KPIs (hashtag mentions: 19.4K, engagement: 77.4k)

Target, the US retailer known for on-trend merchandise at discounted prices, harnessed the power of fandom to drive big social media moments in 2019. A series of pun-filled tweets that promoted the new BTS album were a hit with the K-pop group’s loyal fan base. Another big moment for Target was sparked by FunkoPop, the collectable toy maker, who initiated a social sweepstakes on #PokemonDay, for the chance to win a Target exclusive Pikachu figurine (hastag mentions: 26.8k, engagement: 57.9k).

Takeaway: Know your audience - speak their language and partner with the brands they covet. Target hit the mark by promoting the BTS album with an organic tweet that spoke fan lingo. Additionally, their partnership with FunkoPop, tapped into another powerful fandom on a meaningful day of the year for Pokemon lovers.

Best Buy, the consumer electronics retailer, kicked off 2019 with a tailgate tour for Tech Zone. Think shipping container outfitted with gadgets to showcase the ways technology can transform the football-watching experience. In a related social media sweepstakes, Best Buy asked football fans to share what gameday tech they’d like to upgrade, using hashtag #BestBuyTechZoneSweepstakes, for a chance to win prizes (hashtag mentions: 27.6k, engagement: 3.3k).

Takeaway: A social media sweepstakes can help amplify your campaign. While Best Buy’s Tech Zone tour was limited to four markets, the social giveaway, which they promoted with a hashtag was the perfect way to raise awareness on a national scale.

Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, didn’t rely on a single moment or campaign to propel social media. The retailer took a slow and steady approach using the hashtag #LowesforPros, which generated a consistent flow of mentions during a six-month period.

The hashtag was used by Lowe’s corporate social media accounts and individual stores to share announcements and engage with followers. It was also popular among consumers to share raves about the retailer and share pictures of their renovation projects.

Takeaway: Slow and steady wins the race. Instead of doubling down on a flashy one-time campaign, opt for a consistent initiative you can use year-round. #LowesForPros provided a simple and low cost way to create a unified voice and engagement and even incorporated user-generated content. During times when engagement is low, create a call to action using the tag to reactivate use.

Now that you’ve been inspired by successful campaigns across a range of industries, it’s time to start planning your own. Make the rest of the year count by following these five steps:

  • Review your current efforts
  • Identify challenges and solutions
  • Define and measure the metrics that matter
  • Structure your content plan
  • Track your hard work.

Learn how to create marketing campaigns that make an impact with Talkwalker’s 2019 Campaign Playbook. We have analyzed some of the biggest brands in the world, so you can replicate their success for your own campaigns Here’s to a great second half of the year and beyond!

Turn up your brand engagement - best marketing campaigns