The last 2 years have certainly been eventful. With lockdowns causing a mass exodus from the high street, marketers had to keep up to meet the new needs of consumers navigating the chaos of covid.

There have been some really creative campaigns over the last 2 years taking on these new challenges, but these 5 campaigns really stood out from the crowd.

Let’s explore who won the Digifly Social seal of approval for Best Marketing Campaigns in 2020/21….

1. #FreeCuthbert

#FreeCuthbert - Best Marketing of The Pandemic

Many businesses would be frantic if lawsuits were looming, but Aldi turned their legal woes into a marketing win. When Marks & Spencer took the first steps in a legal case against Aldi for their lookalike caterpillar cake, the PR team had a field day.

#FreeCuthbert was trending on Twitter and socials within hours, with Aldi taunting M&S with posts such as ‘This is not just any court case, this is…#FreeCuthbert’. The viral posts kept on coming, with the majority of society seemingly siding with Aldi and M&S coming out as the bad guy in the battle.

According to Aldi’s data, the campaign triggered a 134% drop in M&S’s score for news sentiment, while its score for purchase consideration declined by 2.72%. Meanwhile Aldi’s scores increased by 8.5% and 6.8% respectively. (Source: Marketing Week).

In a true performance of the power of viral posting, Aldi estimates the organic reach generated by the campaign equated to more than £5m worth of media spend! All this without a penny leaving their pockets (which is handy considering they may need it to pay the M&S lawyers.)

2. Ryanair Wins on TikTok

TikTok was a boredom saviour for so many through lockdown, with the user base growing from 700 million to 1 billion in 2021. Big brands took note and launched their own creative campaigns on the platform, but for me, the winner was Ryanair.

The #ryanair hashtag has accumulated 90.7 million views with hilarious takes on viral trends, and competitor brands enjoying the banter in the comments section. It brought joy to 2021 and broke down barriers between consumers and businesses.

Ryanair have accrued an impressive 38.5m likes and 1.3m followers on TikTok – a huge win for the brand who have only been active on the platform for 18 months.

3. VW Beetle – The Last Mile

Maybe it’s because I am a Beetle owner. Maybe it’s because I am an emotional wreck. Either way, this VW campaign left me in tears! Emotion is a powerful play in marketing, but brands are also starting to realise honesty and vulnerability are what consumers want from the businesses they trust.

The idea behind the Last Mile campaign was a farewell to the iconic VW Beetle as it is removed from production, but also their commitment to the future of transport and electric vehicle technology.

With over 2 million online views and a wave of social posts with #TheLastMile, it was a real win for the brand and hit the right notes. This campaign nods to over 80 years of production and reaffirms their commitment to evolve with the times.

4. No Finger Lickin’ in a Pandemic

There’s no doubt that every business was impacted by the pandemic in some way, but KFC took a direct blow right in the slogan.

KFC’s ‘It’s finger lickin’ good!’ slogan was hardly appropriate in a world where we’re bathing in hand gel and eating our boneless box in a hazmat suit, so their marketing team wasted no time taking advantage of the hilarious irony.

They created one of the best marketing campaigns of the year centred around their temporary suspension of the strapline, featuring billboards and video ads with pixelated words to make them a covid-friendly snack.

5. Battle of the Christmas Campaigns

As a marketer, the unveiling of those big-budget Christmas ad campaigns is as exciting as flipping those doors on the advent calendar.

This year, John Lewis took home the ‘Christmas Best Marketing’ trophy according to figures from PR Week, with 35.2% share of mentions, closely followed by Aldi’s ‘A Christmas Carrot’ with 28%.

This year, John Lewis took us into the forest to meet an unexpected guest. A truly magical 2 minute feature, set to a beautiful version of Together in Electric Dreams.

After a difficult year, John Lewis wanted to focus on the magic of Christmas – “This year we’re celebrating the magic of Christmas through the eyes of our intrepid space traveller Skye. After seeing her ship land, Nathan befriends her and introduces her to the joy of festive traditions.”

At the time of writing, Unexpected Guest has racked up 2,866,752 views on YouTube alone. Another success story to add to their collection!

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