Best social media campaigns 2020
Last year was brutal. Which means those brands that created the best social media campaigns of 2020, should be applauded. Loudly. Social can be a tough channel. Competition. Negative comments. Failed campaigns. I’m going to share the strategies that aced it. Including insights to help drive your own winning strategy in 2021.
Whatever we’re faced with in 2021 - and let’s hope it’s good stuff - brands will still need to sell their products. Social media being the most influential marketing platform - networking, advertising, support, feedback - is why we should already be planning our strategy.
I've collected the most exciting, innovative, and memorable social media campaigns from last year, to help motivate your strategy for 2021.
Want to see?
I’ve listed the brands here, in case you’d like to scoot on down to a particular brand or industry…
- Loretta | Google Super Bowl Commercial
- Nike | You Can’t Stop Us
- PlayStation | Play Has No Limits
- Pringles | #PlayWithPringles
- Getty Museum | #GettyMuseumChallenge
- Heineken |#BetterTogether => #SocialiseResponsibly
- Ocean Spray | Fleetwood Mac & a guy with a skateboard
- Spotify | #2020Wrapped
- Bud Light | Chief Meme Officer
- Nat’l Cowboy Museum | Head of Security
- Lidl UK | #LidlChristmas
- Not Netflix | #StayAtHome spoilers
My eyes are leaking...
Cracking way to start the year, from Google. The search engine’s Super Bowl ad used a true story. A highly emotional story. The goal? To demonstrate how the brand builds “products that help people in their daily lives”.
Loretta was the story of an old man reminiscing about his late wife. Using Google Assistant. Old, faded photos and funny memories, bringing a tear to the eye of the most hardened soul.
At publication of this post, the YouTube video boasts 62,435,032 views. And they’re still coming!!!
Interesting fact… the gentleman in the video is the grandfather of a Google employee.
Check out the Virality Map. Not only did this campaign rock during the Super Bowl. It’s still going strong.
Mentions - 22.8K, engagement - 1.1M.
How to win big on social media...
In July, to mark the return of the NBA, Nike launched the third film in its You Can't Stop Us campaign. The video “celebrates sport as an inspiration”.
Narrated by Megan Rapinoe, the split screen video juxtaposes footage of differently abled athletes, different genders, different races. Demonstrating diversity in sport.
2020 was a year that’ll never be forgotten. Should never be forgotten. The video includes workers in hazmat suits, sterilizing seats in stadiums. Followed by pictures of athletes taking a knee during the national anthem.
"And when things aren't fair, we'll come together for change. We have a responsibility to make this world a better place.”
Nike released its first film in the You Can’t Stop Us campaign in March 2020, named Play Inside, Play for the World. In May, the second film was released. Narrated by LeBron James, Never Too Far Down was intended to inspire athletes to believe that together, they’re capable of anything.
The May campaign received 120.3K engagements on launch day,
while the July campaign received 141.5K.
24 sports, 53 athletes, 4,000 action sequences researched, 72 sequences selected.
Playing the field...
Explorer, PS5 Launch - 4,607,455 views to date.
Sony’s PlayStation announced the launch of PS5 with the tagline Play Has No Limits. The brand released several campaign videos, including The Edge and Explorer, PS5 Launch.
The Edge - 1,231,916 views to date.
The films celebrate explorers with archive and live-action reenactment footage. Space travel to deep-sea diving to mountain climbing.
"We are all explorers...there are new worlds to explore".
The PlayStation campaign proved to be a global triumph, with 122.9K mentions and 1.7M engagement.
PlayStation took the Play Has No Limits global campaign beyond Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc., then shared the results on social media…
Buildings in 25 territories around the world - including South Korea, America, Netherlands, UK, Germany - had the iconic PlayStation shapes - PS5 console, DualSense wireless controller - projected on their fascias.
In Southeast Asia, Sony partnered with horticultural attraction Gardens by the Bay. Presenting a spectacular light show. Featuring the garden’s funky Supertrees, in front of the Singapore skyline.
Singapore launch video received 4.7K engagements.
The UK woke up to find London Underground signs had been hijacked and replaced with the PlayStation shapes. The gaming brand had even snuck a sign outside the Microsoft office in the city.
PlayStation UK tweet - at time of publication - has received 8.9K retweets and 66.9K likes.
Self-expression and community engagement rocked user-generated content…
Pringles’ first TikTok campaign was a blinder. Launched in France, Italy, and Germany, #PlaywithPringles kicked off in April.
The German launch proved to be the second most successful brand campaign with regard views, on TikTok. At time of posting, the video had received 230M+ views. With more than 87,500 participants sharing 151,000 videos.
The crisp brand wanted to reach out to consumers stuck at home during the pandemic, to encourage digital socialising. And, to increase brand awareness with a new generation of digital users. And yes, Gen Z jumped all over this campaign, dominating the conversation.
#PlayWith Pringles generated 1B+ hashtag video views from 343K+ user-generated content videos. With 13% average engagement rate across markets.
“Fun has always been at the core of everything we do at Pringles, and that’s exactly what we want to offer people while they are virtually connecting with friends now that they can’t do it physically.”
The challenge was for fans to be creative with the tube or chip, through dance, forced perspective, comedy, music, or anything else totally insane. Fans could also use a Pringles 3D filter - working on TikTok, Snapchat, Zoom, Skype - and Pringles stickers - for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp.
Up for the challenge?
We challenge you to recreate a work of art with objects (and people) in your home.— Getty (@GettyMuseum) March 25, 2020
🥇 Choose your favorite artwork
🥈 Find three things lying around your house⠀
🥉 Recreate the artwork with those items
And share with us. pic.twitter.com/9BNq35HY2V
When museums and art galleries closed due to the pandemic, they moved online. Virtual tours and live streams became a thing, while we waited for freedom. Until the Getty Museum upped the ante...
In March, the US museum challenged the public to check out its online collection and choose their favorite. Then, using three items from their home, recreate the work of art.
Users on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram leapt on the challenge. Grabbing whatever came to hand - kids, pets, kitchen utensils, food, endless list, so I'm stopping now - they made art.
It. Was. Stupendous!
Artists were invited to share their pieces online, along with the hashtag - #GettyMuseumChallenge - and the museum would post in the comments. The campaign went viral, with 78.4K mentions, and 478.2K engagement.
Talkwalker Analytics - most engaging post in the #GettyMuseumChallenge.
It’s virtual party time...
Streamed live on 4 Jul 2020 - Heineken x F1 2020 Season Opener | Oliver Heldens Live DJ Set. To date, 157,321 views.
In 2019, we worked and played together. The Heineken brand - sponsoring the UEFA Champions League and Formula 1 - promoted its #BetterTogether campaign to celebrate our love of going to such events with our mates.
When the coronavirus roared over the horizon in 2020, the world had to make changes. Brands too had to quickly adapt their marketing strategies. Heineken changed its campaign to #SocialiseResponsibly. Calling for people to put health and safety first.
Formula One's delayed 2020 season got underway in Austria in July. Although there were no spectators at the tracks. sponsors like Heineken breathed a sigh of relief. The Dutch beer brand teamed up with F1 for the season launch and organized a concert with a live performance from globally acclaimed DJ and producer Oliver Heldens.
The performance was live-streamed across the social media channels of Heineken, Oliver, F1, and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
“Providing an opportunity for fans around the world to come together virtually and #SocialiseResponsibly, despite the various Covid-19 lockdown arrangements across the globe.”
#SocialiseResponsibly - 10.9K mentions, 96.3K engagement.
Going with the flow, man...
Allow me to introduce Nathan Apodaca - aka Dogg Face.
A fella named Nathan Apodaca created a trend that went viral on TikTok.
What'd he do? What'd he do?
He took to the highway on a longboard, with a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice. Sharing it on TikTok with the soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.
So simple. So viral. Almost 26M views!
As is the way with social media, everyone wanted a go. Including Mick Fleetwood. Legendary drummer from the band. He even joined TikTok, so he could join the fun.
The story doesn’t end there…
The world waited for Ocean Spray to get on board - on board, see what I did? But, the brand chilled and sat back and watched. Waiting for the story to grow.
Which it did. Nathan received 26M views on TikTok, and Ocean Spray got a bunch of free advertising.
To acknowledge this windfall, the brand gifted Nathan a new truck, packed with bottles of Cran-Raspberry. Nathan had been longboarding to work, due to his car battery dying.
Talkwalker Analytics - conversation buzz around social media campaign.
Who did the world listen to this year? 🌎 #2020Wrapped
fleetwood mac charting makes me so happy...— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) October 8, 2020
As for Fleetwood Mac, the band found a new audience and returned to the charts. With artists like The Weeknd showing their support in a tweet that received 232.9K engagements.
Thanks folks, it’s a wrap...
I think we can all agree that 2020 was a bummer of a year. Yet, unlikely as it seems, some brands did benefit.
When live music concerts were put on hold, audio and media streaming service providers stepped up to the plate.
Swedish brand, Spotify, recently released its 2020 Wrapped report. A report that analyzes users’ listening history for the year, sharing insights like top albums, artists, and playlists. Sharing the results on social media.
This year the brand played a different tune. While still featuring a ton of artists, Spotify focused on expressing its gratitude to listeners, artists, podcast and playlist creators, for supporting and entertaining its audience.
While Spotify promoted its 2020 Wrapped on social media…
Billboards with messaging personalized to the star, proved the winner.
Spotted in Toronto. Streets may be empty but homes are filled with love and Courage. Thanks @spotify for this amazing billboard of our favourite warrior in her shiny armor ❤️ -TC— Celine Dion (@celinedion) December 9, 2020
Listen to Courage: https://t.co/zIMVrpMEwy pic.twitter.com/51DW4nqZc2
And the most streamed artist of the year?
Thanks Bad Bunny 🐰✅ pic.twitter.com/521JdTOXeI— Camilito 🖤💛💙❤️🇺🇸🇨🇴 (@camiloBemitoest) December 2, 2020
Spotify received almost 16M mentions in the last 30 days alone. For which the brand can thank its 2020 Wrapped campaign, which generated a whopping spike of 2.3M mentions in a single day!
Spotify’s #2020Wrapped campaign made an impact, with spikes in trading volume and a record 16% jump in share value.
We made a great-tasting hard seltzer but honestly our memes are terrible. Time to change that. Apply now to be our #ChiefMemeOfficer. It’s a real job with a salary.— Bud Light (@budlight) August 18, 2020
Tag someone who would be perfect for the position.
Apply here: https://t.co/wLJU8cqWQm pic.twitter.com/7LXZOBm8mt
Bud Light looked to hire a Chief Meme Officer to promote its line of hard seltzers. Paying $5000 a month for three months, the officer has to make 10 memes a week. The US beer brand said it needed help because, "our memes are trash".
Top candidate for our Chief Meme Officer:— Bud Light (@budlight) August 22, 2020
🍻 🍻 🍻
🍻 🍻 🍻
👇 🍻🍻 👇
"We need someone who can change that for us. Someone who can pull us out of the pits of cringe, someone who knows how to use the lasso thingy in Photoshop, someone like you.”
The job ad was picked up in online conversation, becoming a strong campaign for Bud Light and its new product. At the end of the summer, sentiment for the campaign and brand was predominantly positive. Collecting 1K mentions, and 9.4K engagement.
1K mentions, and 9.4K engagement.
The position itself was caught in online conversations and it became a campaign itself for Bud Light and its new product. Sentiment around the campaign brought a lot of positive sentiment to the brand as well, at the end of summer.
Sentiment for the brand and employment ad spiked at the close of summer.
Chief Meme Officer to help promote Bud Light's line of hard seltzers.
I'm a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n roll...
Hello, my name is Tim and I am the head of security for The Cowboy. I have been asked to take on the additional duty of social media management while the museum is closed. I’m new to this but excited. My team will also continue to protect and monitor the museum. Thanks, Tim Send pic.twitter.com/bPiXD9DoAd— Nat'l Cowboy Museum (@ncwhm) March 17, 2020
Mentions: 1.3K, engagement: 2.3M.
A social media star was born.
When Oklahoma City's National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum had to close, due to the pandemic, did it panic? Nope. The US museum brought in security. And his name is Tim.
Tasked with protecting the museum and its collection, Tim was promoted to social media manager.
Yippee ki yay!
Posting daily, he provides tours of the museum. Along with tweets highlighting exhibits…
This is the hat and eyepatch the Duke wore in the movie True Grit. They are part of our Exhibition about the 2 True Grit. Lots of interesting props and clothes. I’m told I can’t try it on. Hashtag John Wayne. Lucas, my grandson, told me to use hashtags. Thanks, Tim pic.twitter.com/yNO3RP4uA4— Nat'l Cowboy Museum (@ncwhm) March 17, 2020
Wowzer! Hat and eyepatch worn by John Wayne in the movie True Grit.
While Tim was given the role of social media manager to keep followers engaged during the museum’s forced closure, his success caught the marketing department by surprise, with his posts on Twitter and Instagram getting thousands of likes from all over the world.
Why are Tim's posts proving so successful?
Despite being unfamiliar with social media, he's found a voice that resonates. It's genuine, personalized, kind. It's what we're all looking for during scary times.
Thanks for all the tips, Friends. Realize I have been doing the hashtags wrong. I need to use that pound sign from the phone. I’m learning! Here’s his costume from True Grit from 1969 courtesy of John Wayne Enterprises. #HashtagJohnWayne Thanks, Tim pic.twitter.com/AZu7EidGu2— Nat'l Cowboy Museum (@ncwhm) March 19, 2020
Using hashtags can prove tricky.
Since March - when Tim took control - the museum’s social media accounts have enjoyed high levels of engagement.
When carrots taste this good…
Teaser ad shared on 9 November - 21.7K likes.
Come December, we’re bombarded with Christmas ads. Yes, during a pandemic, turkeys still need stuffing, pigs must be wrapped in blankets, and puddings need torching.
In the UK, Lidl launched a teaser seasonal ad on 9 November, asking for a Lidl love. It received 21.7K likes! Shared across social media, we used our image recognition tool to find the most engaging posts.
Image recognition identified users sharing the love.
On November 14, Lidl posted the full ad. While it didn’t receive as many likes as the teaser, it did bring some laughter. The tongue-in-cheek ad took aim - in a friendly way - at traditional Christmas ads. Even taking a pop at a competitor - Aldi's Kevin the Carrot.
"You don't need cutesy characters when carrots taste this good."
Not strictly a social media campaign…
👉 Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo From Miami Ad School Europe created an amazing campaign for Netflix. "The Spoiler Billboard" has literally GONE VIRAL and We are so proud and happy! 🤗#Miamiadschooleu #Miamiadschoolberlin #Netflix pic.twitter.com/ZpybqYKQso— Miami Ad School Europe (@MiamiAdSchoolEU) March 26, 2020
Best social media campaign, not strictly on social.
Two Thai students from Miami Ad School in Hamburg, Germany, stepped in to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
The goal of their billboard campaign - which they presented to Netflix - was to encourage people to stay at home, by sharing spoilers of popular Netflix shows, on digital billboards. The message being, if you go outside, you'll find out the ending of your fave program.
Netflix said no…
Love the Stay At Home message but #NoSpoilersFromNetflix.— Netflix (@netflix) March 26, 2020
These ideas are part of a student project — a creative idea, if we say so ourselves — but they're not real and not from Netflix.
Despite the campaign failing to take off, online conversations on social media picked the story up.
A great idea which despite being rejected, created a buzz on social media.
Spoiler alert:— Matthew Kobach (@mkobach) March 26, 2020
A Netflix spec ad that encourages people to stay home by putting up billboards of spoilers from their original programming pic.twitter.com/eG3viWvS69
Picked up on social media - 5K likes.
That’s all folks!
A great collection of social media strategies that won big, even during a difficult year. How did they do it? Encouraging us to socialize safely. Making us cry. Making us laugh. Making us think. Giving us fun stuff to do. Being human.
If you're interested in finding out more about brand campaigns from 2020, check out Pedro's post Movers & Shakers | Brands of 2020.
I hope these campaigns provide inspiration for your social media strategies in 2021. I’ve shared our Social Media Trends 2021 Report, for additional tips and tricks from experts in the know.
Keep it real...