From the birth of a new royal baby, to the passing of the most famous Vulcan, 2015 had its share of great moments. It certainly did not lack in great marketing moments and trends which shook social media and went viral. Some of them confirmed that which we always suspected (with Star Wars, always, the Power is — would say Master Yoda) and others led to changing brands and attitudes.
Ad blocking is on everybody’s minds these days. With around 200 million global users, ad blockers did not only go mainstream, but spread to the mobile as well. They are the major cause of advertisers losing sleep as Apple announced it will make it part of the iOS9 update. This should not be such a major shock to brands though, as banner blindness is already widely among consumers, 86% of them being affected as early as 2013.
The new Star Wars installment awakened the force of marketing. The hype created before its launch reached Jedi levels, with the hashtag dominating the social media for days. The marketing team pulled all the stops, from managing expectations with well-placed teasers to media appearances. What was interesting about this marketing campaign is how in spite of all the talk, very little was actually known about the movie plot before the launch. Instead, they focused on highlighting characters, such as the return of the beloved, classical Han Solo and Chewbacca, and emergence of a new cast of heroes and villains.
Caitlyn Jenner took social media by storm when she shed her Bruce Jenner identity for all the world to see. The moment was immortalized in interviews and media appearances, but probably the most iconic was the photo shot for the cover of Vanity Fair by Annie Leibovitz. The story of Caitlyn attracted considerable attention and opened new conversations about gender transition as she morphed right under our eyes. When she opened her Twitter account, she amassed her first million of followers in a record time of four hours.
No yearly list would be complete without the word Apple in it. The brand took the original fruit from the ubiquitous keep-the-doctor-away to uber cool brand. As soon as the release date of the Apple Watch was revealed in March, the gadget started trending without delay. It goes to show that even without Steve Jobs keynote speeches the brand is alive and well, and his legacy lives on.
Tidal marked one of the biggest moments in the music industry in 2015. Created by Jay Z, one of the biggest influencers in the music industry, Tidal was set to challenge Spotify in the music-streaming service. Jay Z assembled a host of music pros, including Madonna, Beyonce, and Rihanna and #TIDALforALL started trending in no time. Interestingly enough, not all reactions were welcoming, as some users were alienated by such a deployment of resources for such a trivial cause.
In the same context of social media users becoming more discerning regarding what and who they follow, in 2015 it was great to see Twitter used not only as a tool for business marketing, but for bringing social change. Hashtags such as #EqualPayDay and #ToTheGirls instigated conversations about women’s empowerment, particularly in the workplace. In a society setting standards for women higher and higher, which eat at their self-esteem and boost their stress levels, we love to see these conversations growing.
It is hard to avoid the Super Bowl in a top of marketing moments. Advertisers surpass themselves in media tricks every year, but in 2015 it was the halftime show that stole… well, the show. So first there was the game. Then it was the commercials. Now it is the show. It brought back two beloved musicians, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott, and for the latter it proved to be a golden opportunity. Her performance reminded fans why she deserved her almost 300 award nominations, winning 120 of them, and as a result her total streams increased by 676% according to Spotify.
As a response to consumers demand for authenticity and transparency, live streaming became a marketing staple for brands, with the rise of such apps as Periscope and Meerkat. Various brands, from Wendy’s to Apple experimented using these channels to connect with customers on a more personal level, as the live content cannot be as polished and perfect as it used to be. This may be in response to the consumers’ search of a more humanized face for the brands. We are curious to see who the new rising influencers of Periscope and Meerkat will be. Of course Facebook cannot miss out on this, announcing live streaming services coming soon to a page near you.
Adele‘s talent is undeniable, but even it can get some help from some smart marketing moves. Adele’s “Hello” single is an amazing song, skyrocketing on all social media as soon as it was launched. But this did not happen by chance or just due to its haunting melodic line, but also because of the well-orchestrated marketing strategy. It all started with a well-placed teaser during UK’s X Factor. But the reason why there is so much love for Adele is that in spite of a well-devised marketing strategy, she still manages to stay authentic and keep her sense of humour. Hello? Have you watched “When Adele wasn’t Adele… but was Jenny!”?
Finally, this does not count as a great marketing move, but more like a disaster, and will probably enter the textbooks for PR students under the chapter “It Cannot Get Worse Than This”: the Ashley Madison leak. When you sell controversial merchandise or services, it is expected to encounter some public opposition, but nobody expected that “the world’s leading service for discreet encounters” will become in fact very transparent with its users’ data. But either the services Ashley Madison has to offer are irresistible, or the myth “any publicity is good publicity” is really true, because instead of being deterred, more than 4 million people were inspired to sign up on the site since the infamous leak.
How will these marketing moments carry on into 2016? More empowerment, more transparency and more discernment, that’s what we would like to see. Strong marketing to support the weak, and good marketing to wipe out the bad. What was the most memorable marketing moment for you in 2015?