The 10 Most Effective Marketing Campaigns of 2016

December 7, 2016 Nicole Klemp

Need a little marketing inspiration as you plan for the new year? recently released their top 100 marketing campaigns of 2016. Each year, Warc names the top campaigns based on their overall creativity, effectiveness, and ability to influence consumer behavior.

Multi-channel, personalized experiences were the name of the game this year, and many of the top contenders found unique ways to use social media, allowing brand advocates to do the talking for them. Several of the campaigns have now made repeat appearances in the top 100 — a testament to their continued effectiveness and ability to drive business outcomes.

  1. Penny the Pirate


Australian eyeglass retailer, OPSM, created a children’s book and interactive app that incorporates vision testing methods for screening childrens’ eyesight, and helps parents determine whether or not their child needs to get their eyes checked. This family-friendly campaign has helped increase OPSM’s sales of children’s eye tests and eyewear, and has been wildly popular among parents. “The boys loved this story from OPSM and read it a couple of times, it was a different, fun way to test their eyes to see if there were any problems,” said one mom in an online review, “Loved this book, the idea is fantastic and the kids loved it too! Practical, yet interesting creation from OPSM, thanks!! Passed this onto one of my friends to test her son’s eyes too.”

  1. Like a Girl

Anyone who’s been on a playground or gymnasium in their life has probably heard someone say, “you throw like a girl,” or “you run like a girl.”  Feminine hygiene brand Always, wanted to prove that running/throwing/hitting like a girl shouldn’t be a bad thing. They set out to change the negative connotations about these phrases with a video, social media (#LikeAGirl) campaign, and interactive website. The video has had millions of views, increased Always’s brand awareness, and earned a UN award for its impact on female empowerment.

  1. Project Architeuthis

The U.S. Navy launched an alternate reality game to recruit talented cryptologists. The game challenged participants to think like Navy cryptologists and solve complex puzzles. Characters, clues, and tips were revealed on social media. The interactive social experience created a buzz around the Navy, and helped increased enlistment.

  1. Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables


When shopping for groceries, most people look for perfectly shaped, beautifully colored produce to fill their cart. French supermarket chain, Intermarché, found that 40% of fruits and vegetables were being thrown away because they didn’t make the cut. They decided to dedicate an entire aisle in each of their 1,800 stores to these “ugly” fruits and vegetables, and sell them at a 30% discount. Their print and TV ads received a huge response, and went viral on social media.

  1. Live Test Series


To taut the safety and environmental-friendliness of their new trucks, Volvo created a video series that showed massive stunts — like a paraglider being pulled behind a truck, and a 4-year old girl driving one through an obstacle course via remote control. The video series has had millions of views on YouTube and has been attributed to an increase in Volvo truck sales.

  1. If We Made It

Heineken created a mock Super Bowl ad for their Newcastle Brown Ale, accompanied by a series of videos and web content. They poked-fun at the fact that they couldn’t actually afford a Super Bowl commercial, but if they did it would be “epic.” The campaign proved that advertisers don’t need to shell out millions for a 30-second spot during the big game when they have creativity and social buzz on their side. The campaign has been recognized by several media outlets for its effectiveness, and has helped to increase brand awareness for the beer.

  1. This is Wholesome


This Honey Maid campaign included several print ads and a video series that promotes diversity and acceptance. They have also incorporated a browser app that allows users to change web page images and headlines to “content celebrating love, heartwarming family connections, and acceptance.” The campaign has helped increase Honey Maid’s market share, while putting a welcomed message of positivity out into the world.

  1. Share a Coke


Whether they drink soda or not, most people in America — and in places like Australia and the UK — have at least seen the Coke bottles with popular names on them in stores. This clever use of packaging played on consumers’ desire for personalization, and the social media aspect (#shareacoke) had everyone searching high and low for their name — or the names of friends and family — so they could share a Coke, both virtually and in real life.

  1. Kan Khajura Tesan


Hindustan Unilever (HUL) created a free mobile media channel to reach people in rural India. Along with advertisements, the channel — which gained over 12 million subscribers in the first year — provides music, jokes, and Bollywood content to people in these “media dark” regions.

  1. I Will What I Want

To better connect with their female audience, Under Armour created a campaign built around promoting the strength, power, and resilience of women and girls. The campaign has been attributed to a turnaround of the brand’s masculine image, and a 28% sales increase, as well as helping Under Armour win Ad Age’s 2014 Marketer of the Year award.

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