5 of the Best Advertising Campaigns of All Time

For an advertising campaign to be successful it must deliver a meaningful message, communicate to a customer why he or she needs this product or service and create a memorable experience for the person viewing the ad. Whether it be motivation, persuasion or encouraging human interaction, a campaign should connect with its viewers in order to be successful. Throughout the years, there have been many memorable advertising campaigns that leave a message, an image or simply a catchy jingle that remains imbedded in our brains years after the campaign has ended. Throughout the history of advertising, there have been countless memorable campaigns but here are a few of our favorites:

Marlboro: Marlboro Man

Interestingly enough, Marlboro first began targeting the female smoker, advertising Marlboro cigarettes as a classy alternative to smelly, unstylish cigarettes. As reports were published concerning the correlation between smoking cigarettes and the increasing chance of lung cancer, Marlboro found themselves in a tough spot, and began looking for a completely target customer trying to avoid health-conscious female smokers. In the 50s, cigarette manufacturers discovered that smoking was still popular amongst the male population, especially if the cigarette had a filter. With a filtered cigarette already in production, Marlboro repositioned their brand to appeal to the male smoker.

Cue the Marlboro Man.

The Marlboro Man (or men, as it were) were typically rugged, manly characters such as cowboys or construction workers. This simple repositioning of the brand resulted in Marlboro cigarettes skyrocketing in popularity because not only did men want the filtered cigarette, but they began associating their own identities with the Marlboro Man. Despite endless backlash from the FDA and eventually being banned from TV commercials, Marlboro remains one of the best-selling brands in America.

Nike: Just Do It

An all-time favorite. An absolute classic. One could argue this is the most influential ad campaign of all time. Nearly 30 years ago, concentrating their efforts on primarily marathon runners, Nike’s marketing team noticed a shift in popularity for fitness and came up with their famous, “Just Do It” tagline. Oddly enough, this idea stemmed from the last words of a convicted killer famously saying, “Let’s Do it.” At the time, Rebook was selling more shoes than Nike. Nike had a market share of just 18 percent before launching the “Just Do It” campaign. The new campaign generated $8.3 billion in revenues bringing their market share up to 43 percent in less than 10 years. One of the more curious nuances about the campaign’s success was the fact that 4 out of 5 products bought were not used for the purpose for which they were designed. So, why were consumers buying these shoes? Nike’s campaign created the sense that if you have a body (regardless of the shape it was in), you’re an athlete, which was an empowering thought for people.

Apple: Get a Mac

Apple’s most popular advertisement, undoubtedly, is the “1984” commercial directed by legendary Ridley Scott. But in terms of a campaign, Apple’s “Get a Mac” was truly one of the greatest. Growing in popularity, Apple products had the ability to perform many functions, meaning there was a lot to explain and to showoff. Realizing this, Apple’s marketing team decided to take the benefits of the product and explain them in a relatable, comparable way. This allowed Apple to avoid bombarding consumers with longwinded information that could be deemed as boring and provided them the opportunity to compare their product to their biggest competitor. After running this campaign of Mac vs. PC, Apple reported its market share grew 42% in the first year. The marketing team took information that was normally tedious to digest, and presented it in a fun, comical way while still highlighting the importance of owning a Mac. Apple’s message from made people believe that owning a Mac compared to a PC was going to make their lives better in some way.

California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?

Starting as a state-wide campaign in California, “Got Milk?” helped generate a 7% increase in milk sales in California before it eventually crossed state lines and grew into a national favorite with thousands of milk moustaches scattered across the country. The idea behind, “Got Milk?” was not to target those who weren’t drinking milk but rather to those who were already drinking milk. The ad agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners concluded that, “Milk is usually consumed with something else, and the only time people really think about milk is when they’ve run out of it.” The campaign lasted more than a decade with incredible success and won numerous awards such as Gold Clios, the Grand Prix Cilo for Commercial of the Year, a Gold EFFIEE and a Silver Lion at an international advertising event. A lesson can be learned from this campaign: you do not need to attract a new audience every time there is a product you want to promote. Sometimes it’s about focusing on your current audience and getting them to appreciate and use your product more often.

Coke: Share a Coke

The “Share a Coke” campaign is the most recent one on our list of favorites. Starting out in Australia in 2011, Coca-Cola researched 150 of the most popular names on the continent and branded their cans and bottles with, “Share a Coke with (insert name)”. It took the world by storm. Starting as a campaign to connect with Australia’s youth, “Share a Coke” soon became a global craze in a matter of months, thanks to the power of social media. By targeting those who regularly use social media sites, Coca-Cola was able to receive tons of online recognition from customers who were sharing photos of their cans and using the hashtag #ShareACoke on their posts. Coke also created an online customization tool that allowed customers to go to the Coca-Cola website and customize their cans using their own names, their favorite college team, etc. Between organic posts and customers sharing their customized cans, Coca-Cola gained 25 million new Facebook followers from the campaign. The marketing team at Coke produced a campaign that encouraged self-expression, individual storytelling, and a way to stay connected with one another.