It doesn't necessarily sound good in theory, and it must have sounded ho-hum in whatever board room it was first suggested: dump a bucket of ice on your head to raise awareness for a cause. But, 440 million views later with absolutely no ad-spend on the part of the ALS Association, the #IceBucketChallenge doesn't seem so silly. Since then, brands have been scrambling to copy the tactic, with little success. So singular was the ad that Facebook just named it the most successful marketing campaign in the fourth annual Facebook Awards.
The Facebook Awards are timed to coincide with the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where the international advertising world crowns its best creative work. Facebook will also attend Cannes, to encourage advertisers to use the platform in new ways, and to capitalize on the growth in international advertising that seems to make up more and more of Facebook's revenue. According to AdWeek, "more than half of its [Facebook's] ad revenue came from overseas" last year.
What will the international advertising world be looking at with Facebook? Well, this year, the big standouts were mobile and video. Now that advertisers are able to target based on location and/or interest, the mobile ad spend has blossomed. And, of course, video (with the introduction of auto-play, the streamlined posting procedures, and Instagram integration) continues to be touted as the new king in online marketing, and the Facebook Awards prove it.
Here is a complete list of winners and notable campaigns, but below we've highlighted a few worth looking at.
Last summer saw 17 million videos from people like Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affleck, and Mark Zuckerberg, all dumping ice water on their heads to raise awareness and encourage donations for the cause (to the tune of $220 million.) It was a brilliant campaign that used timing to its advantage: the casual playfulness of the challenge lent itself to a summertime surge.
Led by the Leo Burnett agency, the Always #LikeAGirl campaign was up there with the ice bucket challenge as one of the most popular Facebook campaigns of the year, but for a completely different reason. This documentary-style video series never wavered from the seriousness of the cause it was undertaking, and the question behind the ad: "when did doing something 'like a girl' become an insult?" With 76 million views and serious, measured brand lift, it became the most-watched video in Proctor & Gamble's history. The campaign translated well to a Super Bowl spot in 2015, driving home the "girls rule" message on a day reserved for male-centered sports fanfare.
I Will What I Want
Was 2014 the year of the "girl?" Under Armour's #IWillWhatIWant campaign featured a strong female, American Ballet Theater's Misty Copeland, at the center of their campaign, upending societal norms about the "ballerina body." It was different from the #LikeAGirl campaign, though, in that it was a short spot, relying on strong visuals to tell the story. This campaign managed to spin off the #LikeAGirl positive response, redefining something traditionally thought of as "girly" and featuring female strength instead. With 5 billion impressions and $35 million in earned media, it was a major success for the new-ish brand. Lesson: when in doubt, go for strong girls in 2014?
Newcastle Band of Brands
Perhaps no brand has poked more fun of Super Bowl ad season while also reaping the benefits than Newcastle. This year's campaign took it up a notch by calling for brands that didn't have the budget for a game day spot to pool their marketing money in one big ad. With the dry Aubrey Plaza as their celebrity voice and an fun by cynical, millennial-esque take on corporate Super Bowl ads, the campaign was a near-instant hit. Newcastle says they dominated the web for weeks before game day with this campaign, and for the second year in the row, they were featured in every Big Game ad list, an impressive feat considering they really couldn't afford the $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. Newcastle proved two things about game day advertising: first of all, it doesn't always have to happen on game day, and second of all, fun rules, especially with the young audiences.
Love Has No Labels
The Love Has No Labels campaign managed to combine the traits of a few of those most popular campaigns above. The ad spot tackled a serious social issue (prejudice when it comes to love) but managed to avoid didacticism by staying upbeat and happy with Macklemore's "Same Love" playing over the visuals. Their motto translated well: no lecturing, just love. With over 40 million views on Facebook in just two days, the it became the 2nd most viral PSA in history after three weeks. What's also remarkable about this ad is that it imitated its inclusive message in the brand strategy, by getting numerous rival brands--such as Coke and Pepsi, and AllState and State Farm--to push the content on their site. Form mirrored content, and it spoke loudly.