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The 9 most memorable marketing campaigns of 2018

Adrian is Bigwave’s Digital intern, hailing from Germany. With a flair for content writing and a keen interest in digital marketing, Adrian loves getting stuck into any and every project that comes his way. Adrian may be the youngest member of staff in the office, but his black belt in Judo would soon send us packing. 


2018 is nearly over and what a year it was for marketing.

Some bizarre; some great; even some politics-heavy campaigns made their way into the public eye, with mixed responses. Here’s are 9 that make the cut for being the most memorable ones of the last 12 months – at least in my humble opinion.

Let us know if there are any others that deserve to be on the list.

1.   #ThisGirlCan – Fit Got Real

Researchers found that women are less likely to do fitness-related activities, due to social pressures, mental confidence and a range of other factors.

Sport England’s response? They started a campaign to show women of all ages and in every situation how they can get fit. This Girl Can encourages women of all ages, sizes and abilities to get active.  It began in 2015 but continues to impress with success and their ongoing effort to get more women in the UK active.

Fit Got Real is the third phase of the campaign. It specifically targets women of all backgrounds and ethnicities who feel left behind by traditional exercise.


2.   Nike – dream crazy

This September, Nike dropped a controversial bomb with their “Dream Crazy” advert for the brand’s 30th anniversary:

Colin Kaepernick, the face of the campaign and an ex-American football player, suggests in the ad that you should “believe in something – even if it means sacrificing everything”. This is a big hint to him kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racism – an action that led to him being without a team to this day.

Nike goes beyond motivating young athletes to ‘dream crazy’. The premise of the ad is as politically motivated as it is sporting goal-oriented. Numbers prove that it was the right choice to take this risky step with online sales growing by 31% after ad publication.

 3.   Iceland – Banned rang-tan advert

“There’s a rang-tan in my bedroom…” – to most this is a familiar phrase, even though it didn’t make it onto national TV. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link (get the tissues out first though)

The video, originally by Greenpeace, was seen more than 30 million times in the first few days of its release and quickly sparked a petition against the ads rejection. Celebrities like James Cordon have voiced their support of the ad.

In keeping with the theme of the advert, Iceland have pledged to remove all palm oil from its products by the end of 2018 – an ingredient that is present in 50% of supermarket foods and is responsible for large-scale deforestation.

4.    #MeToo – raising awareness of sexual harassment


A campaign for equality and justice brought about by a hashtag. Sexual harassment has been a taboo topic for a long time but led by actress Alyssa Milano, the hashtag became viral and encouraged more women to speak up.

The campaign began in October 2017, not long after the exploits of Harvey Weinstein hit the papers. Soon after the public and several celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Uma Thurman, shed light on their experiences. What started in the media and fashion industries, expanded to the church, education, politics and more.

I’m aware that this doesn’t strictly fit the bill of a ‘marketing campaign’ but it used all the right channels and tactics to gain public momentum. One things for sure – it’s been memorable.

5.   Trash Isles – a real country to raise attention to plastic waste

In a list of the top marketing campaigns of the year, you would expect to see adverts for products and services – not countries, right?

This campaign advertises the greatest product of all – our planet. LADBible have teamed up with the Plastic Oceans Foundation to turn an area of rubbish, cumulatively the size of France, into a real island. With supporters like ex-Vice President Al Gore signing up for citizenship (they have passports and all), it’s safe to say the campaign has garnered some serious traction.

A petition has been signed more than 240,000 times and gained the UN’s attention. Despite starting in 2017, it has played a massive role this year and will do moving forwards. For that it deserves a mention.




6.    KFC – response to chicken shortage

When a chicken restaurant runs out of chicken, there is something wrong. But how can you make a win of what is a total meltdown?

PR agency Mother London had the answer: admit you made a mistake in a slightly ironic way. On full pages in the Metro and the Sun KFC shared images of empty boxes saying FCK. No explanation needed. The internet loved it and soon the initial problem was forgotten.

Winner winner chicken dinner, we say ????


7.    John Lewis & Waitrose – Bohemian Rhapsody

The UK can’t get enough of Queen. Whether it’s on TV or in the cinema, Bohemian Rhapsody seems to be the words on everyone’s lips. Case in point – the John Lewis & Waitrose advert:

The two brands, both of which fall under the John Lewis Partnership umbrella, created a goose bump-causing advert, in which a group of primary school pupils nail the classic hit in a school performance.

That said, it did leave viewers scratching their head over whether they’d fallen asleep and woken up in December. The advert came out a good two months shy of their renowned Christmas advert.

8.   John Lewis – The boy and the piano

Another John Lewis advert; another famous songster. The story of a young boy and his piano tells Elton John’s story, from receiving a piano as a Christmas gift to becoming the legend he is now. “Some gifts are more than just a gift” ends the video, which has gained more than 11 million views.

The John Lewis Christmas ad is the most famous advert of the year, so it certainly makes the cut for ‘memorability.’


9.    Spotify – 2018 Goals


Spotify started the year with a bang – by using customer’s data to tell hilarious and, quite frankly, bizarre, goals for the new year – example: “Be as loving as the person who put 48 Ed Sheeran songs on their ‘I Love Gingers’ playlist”.

The campaign was led by their in-house marketing team and features many musicians, including Big Shaq and Bruno Mars. Posters could be seen in many locations and likely caused some laughter for passing pedestrians and drivers…

Want a marketing campaign that outshines your competition?

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