Mad Men gave us a peek into the young years of the advertising industry. It was a time when consumers were easily persuaded by bossy advertisements and ethics were easily forgotten when power and money are at stake.
We stare at billboards during the commute to work, sing along to radio jingles and flip through magazines in the grocery store checkout line — the average person consumes more advertisements than any other type of media, at approximately 5000 impressions per day. It seems like it’s inescapable; and half the time ads tell us that we aren’t quite good enough, that is unless we were to buy the product in the campaign. Luckily, not all advertising follows the same agenda.
There have been several campaigns in recent times that have gone out of their way to break away from industry standards by perpetuating more positive messages. And many of these campaigns involved innovative stunts that got people thinking and talking. It’s always refreshing to see campaigns that are seeking to change the world for the better. Vv Magazine has compiled the top ten advertising campaigns that have made a difference in society.
1. Always #likeagirl
The Always #likeagirl campaign aired during the 2014 Superbowl and has been acclaimed for its ability to change the conversation from insulting girls to empowering them when someone does says to do something ‘like a girl.’ “Yes, I kick like a girl and I swim like a girl and I walk like a girl and I wake up in the morning like a girl because I am a girl and that’s not something that I should be ashamed of.”
2. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
The Dove Real Beauty Ad Campaign is now 11 years old and just as powerful as ever. Focusing on real womens’ curves, wrinkles, hairstyles and skin tones, this was the first campaign to feature the female body as it actually looks; in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. The most recent initiative from the ongoing campaign took place in cities around the world. Dove posted signs above side by side doors, one labelled ‘Beautiful’ and the other labelled ‘Average.’ They had a camera crew film women’s reactions as they chose which door to walk through. The campaign highlights Dove’s mission to allow women to be proud to admit they think they’re beautiful. “Feeling beautiful is one of those choices that women should feel empowered to make for themselves,” the brand’s press release explains.
3. Tap Project
The concept for The Tap Project came to Dave Droga one afternoon when he was dining at a restaurant in New York. The idea was that restaurants would charge $1 per person for tap water, and send the proceeds to UNICEF. The project has been going strong ever since. Its most recent initiative encourages to put down their phones in order to donate. For every 15 minutes a user doesn’t touch their phone, they unlock a donation that will provide enough clean water to a child for a full day.
4. Truth By American Legacy
The Truth campaign was a series of anti-smoking PSAs that broke free from the traditional, preachy tone of PSAs at the time. American Legacy pulled off a guerrilla marketing stunt, where they piled up 1200 stuffed body bags outside the Philip Morris headquarters to represent the 1200 people smoking kills every single day.
The (RED) campaign is a brand created to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS in Africa. They have partnered with dozens of major brands over the years — remember the (RED) iPod nano and the (RED) high top Converse? — where the brand creates a product using the RED logo and a chunk of the profits are donated to providing a consistent flow of money to AIDS sufferers. Since its inception in 2006, the campaign is still pumping out initiatives – such as the 40 cents a day video – featuring A-list celebrities encouraging people to donate.
6. The Guy At Home In His Underwear by Stanfield
The Guy At Home In His Underwear was a campaign launched by Stanfield’s to help them attract younger consumers. The campaign featured Mark, a survivor of testicular cancer, who agreed to allow cameras to film him 24/7 as he sat around his home in his underwear. Viewers were invited to live stream Mark as he interacted with special guests and fulfilled his action-packed daily itinerary. Stanfield’s agree to donate $1 to testicular cancer research for every Facebook like the campaign received. In seven days, the donation exceeded $25,000. This campaign generated 42 million traditional media impressions and was called “one of the best digital stunts we’ve seen in Canada” by The Globe and Mail.
7. Camp Okutta by War Child
The Camp Okutta guerilla marketing campaign was a multi-platform, interactive crusade to draw attention to the issue of child soldiers in Africa. The campaign featured a promotional video, where children sent to Camp Okutta learned to throw hand grenades at their comrades and shoot AK47s. An official Camp Okutta website featured prices, details about accommodations and a full list of the activities children would participate in. People were hired to pin fliers for Camp Okutta to posts all around the city. The goal was shock factor — if people were appalled to think this could be real, they should be just as appalled to know that it is real in Africa.
8. First Moon Party by Hello Flo
The First Moon Party is the first feminine hygiene product commercial that actually talks about the period. Finally, a commercial we can actually relate to. Hopefully this means we can leaves the days behind when tampon commercials featured ladies in swirly skirts dancing around because let’s face it, nobody wants to dance during their time of the month. It’s important for young girls to feel comfortable talking about their bodies instead of feeling like getting their period is a secret that should only ever be alluded to and this commercial gives them permission to celebrate themselves.
9. Arctic Home by Coca Cola
The Arctic Home campaign was launched in 2011 as a way for Coca Cola to help conserve the melting polar ice caps, the habitat of the very animal they’ve used as a mascot since 1922. Coke has agreed to donate $2 million to the WWF over the course of two years as well as matching private donations to the dollar. The campaign featured an interactive travelling art installation where viewers which simulated the polar bears’ habitat for the user.
10. #InspireHerMind by Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless decided to challenge the beauty industry’s domination over the advertising world with their #InspireHerMind ad campaign. It highlights the way we converse with little girls, focusing on their looks and encouraging them to conform to the gender roles by being delicate and ‘girly.’ The ad sums it all up: “66% of fourth grade girls say they like science and math. But only 18% of all college engineering majors are female. Isn’t it time we told her she’s pretty brilliant too?” The ad is narrated by Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani and directed by Pam Thomas of Community Films.