The Best Marketing Campaigns of All Time (And What Made Them So Successful)

The Best Marketing Campaigns of All Time (And What Made Them So Successful)

A marketing campaign is a focused, tactical initiative to achieve a specific marketing goal, which is centered on one, clear message. If done right, it can help build your brand, engage your existing customers and encourage new ones.

Here are a few of the best campaigns that were as simple as they were effective.


1) Nike: Just Do It.

In 1988, Nike sales were at $800 million; by 1998, sales exceeded $9.2 billion thanks to three little words: "Just Do It."

When they first started out, Nike catered almost exclusively to marathon runners. Then, everyone became a fitness fanatic and Nike knew they needed something truly spectacular to beat their main competitor, Reebok (who actually sold more shoes than them at the time). And so, in the late 1980s, "Just Do It." was born.

The slogan was a part of a hugely successful campaign, which targeted people regardless of age, gender, or physical ability and encouraged them to lead a life of health, fitness and excitement.

The slogan quickly spread across the globe and became an inspirational message for many. Advertising Age magazine listed the “Just Do It.” campaign as one of the best and most successful marketing campaigns of the 20th century and praised it for being both universal and intensely personal.

So when you're trying to decide the best way to present your brand, ask yourself: What problem are you trying to solve? What solution does your product or service provide? By hitting on that core issue in all of your messaging, you'll connect with consumers on an emotional level that is hard to ignore.


2) Apple: There’s an app for that

Apple is an extremely successful company; but don’t just take my word for it. Just last month, the tech giant posted monster earnings with $88.3 billion in revenue.

Its clever ad campaigns have played a pretty important role in that success.

While there have been many great Apple campaigns, this one is pure gold. The original iPhone didn't even have an App Store, believe it or not, so simply saying: “There’s an app for that” was a clever way to introduce people to the idea of apps and to create top of mind recall for the iPhone.

Apple had a very slick and professional marketing strategy and in a way, they were trying to get us to think “Apple” when we thought of an “App” and that’s not too much of a stretch is it?

From tech articles to jokes told around the water cooler, the phrase developed a life of its own as a joke punchline and editor's easy headline option. Apple even liked the slogan so much they managed to get a US trade mark so their competitors couldn’t use it.

Apps ended up being one of the growth areas of Apple and 3 billion apps were downloaded in the first 18 months after their launch. A key takeaway here? Just because your product does some pretty complex and crazy things it doesn’t mean you can’t have a simple message.


3) Airbnb

Airbnb built its brand by telling the world not to travel. That may sound like a joke but it’s absolutely true. The company’s marketing strategy was “Don’t Go There. Live There.” It’s genius really because unlike a hotel, where guests check in, eat, sleep and check out, Airbnb invited its guests to “experience”.

The company created its marketing platform and grew it into a global brand almost overnight by urging people to actively rethink the way they experienced travel. They marketed their accommodation options as homes away from homes to great effect and even megastars like Beyoncé have booked rooms through their popular website.

What made the campaign so effective? It captured the imagination of not only customers but the wider public. It encouraged people to stay in a house outside the traditional tourist zones and immerse themselves in the authentic experiences they offered such as trying new foods, exploring local neighbourhoods and meeting new people. It also reinforced Airbnb’s benefit to families by balancing the adventure of a new experience with the experience of being in your very own home.

So what’s the moral of the story here? Don’t overthink it. Simply get inside your customers’ heads and give them something they didn’t even know they wanted. Easy.