5 of the Cleverest Marketing Campaigns in Recent Times

Learn from these brands on what you need to do to have your marketing campaign stick with consumers.

learn more about Samuel Edwards

By Samuel Edwards Originally published Sep 18, 2015

Tide | Twitter

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are marketing campaigns and then there are clever marketing campaigns. The former may resonate with you, but they'll rarely stick with you. The latter are memorable and unique. How would you grade your marketing campaigns? Are they clever, or merely average? If you need a little inspiration, check out the following case studies involving five clever marketing campaigns that dared to be different.

Related: This Clever Marketing Campaign Reversed Coke's 11-Year Decline in Soda Sales

1. Atlanta Hawks 'Swipe Right' Night

Last season, the Atlanta Hawks hosted one of the most memorable event nights in recent professional sports history. They called it Swipe Right Night, an obvious play on Tinder -- a dating app that's popular among millennials (who also happen to make up a large percentage of NBA ticket sales). Here's how it worked:

The Atlanta Hawks encouraged fans in attendance to swipe right -- the equivalent of telling a potential dating partner that you're attracted to them -- for the chance to win access to "Love Lounges" populated by other singles. In the days building up to the event, the Hawks also promised to have some of feminist blog Jezebel's most eligible singles in attendance. Bud Light, offering fans the chance to win tickets to other games and events, sponsored the event.

The Swipe Right Night was successful for a number of reasons. First off, it was unique. So many professional sports teams recycle events each season, so it was refreshing to see something totally innovative and new. Second, the event identified and honed in on the target market: millennials. Third, the campaign put the focus on an experience and not a boring giveaway.

2. 'The Dress' campaigns

Remember the dress phenomenon last February? You know, the one where people got all worked up about whether the dress in a picture was blue and black or white and gold. Well, it sparked a lot of creativity from different companies and is a perfect example of how marketing campaigns have to be relevant and nimble.

Dunkin' Donuts was one of the winners, posting a great picture of two different donuts -- one blue and black, the other white and gold -- with a caption that read, "Doesn't matter if it's blue/black or white/gold, they still taste delicious." They weren't the only ones, though. Every brand wanted a piece of the action.

LEGO posted a creative picture of two different LEGO figures that read, "#whiteandgold or #blackandblue? We found a way around science: You can have both! #TheDress #dressgate." But perhaps the greatest post of all goes to Tide. Recognizing that their brand perfectly aligned with the issue, Tide posted a picture of the two dresses against an orange background that read, "Looks like a problem when you don't use Tide Plus ColorGuard. #TheDress."

Related: What 'The Dress' Teaches About Seeing Things From Different Perspectives

3. Urban Hilton Weiner selfie coupon codes

Clever is the only way to describe Urban Hilton Weiner's recent selfie coupon code campaign. At the time, they were a relatively unknown clothing company. Now the brand is frequently discussed in fashion circles. The ingenious marketing campaign worked like this:

Urban Hilton Weiner took to social media announcing that it would offer a $10 coupon to everyone who posted a selfie wearing one of their clothing items, along with campaign-specific hashtag #urbanselfie. The campaign was a major success. Not only did it increase sales, but most importantly, it enhanced brand visibility.

4. British Airways: 'The Magic of Flying'

British Airways leveraged mobile app and location-based technology to create one of the most incredible campaigns in recent memory. The company built digital billboards in highly-trafficked areas that featured a child pointing to the sky. When a plane flew by overhead, the billboard then displayed a text notification that told people the flight number and final destination. It all plugged into the underlying message that British Airways offers "more flights to more destinations."

5. Always's #LikeAGirl campaign

Finally, there's the #LikeAGirl campaign by Always. This campaign questioned viewers regarding their views of young girls. Instead of using the phrase "like a girl" to conjure up negative connotations, the campaign sought to make it a positive phrase. The ad started by asking grown adults and young boys to impersonate phrases such as, "Throw like a girl" or "Run like a girl." It then asked young girls to impersonate the same phrases. The results were starkly different. Young girls had a much more positive image of who they were.

The ad seemed to work, as it earned more than 55 million YouTube views, 200,000-plus YouTube likes, hundreds of thousands of Facebook comments and shares and more than 40,000 tweets.

Clever marketing campaigns are not comfortable from a business perspective. The fact that they're clever and unique means they stand out. This can either benefit your company or backfire if you aren't careful. As a marketer, you have to dare to be clever. Use some of the takeaways you've learned from these five tips and make a commitment stop developing boring campaigns that follow textbook rules. Instead, start thinking outside of the box and become a true innovator.

Samuel Edwards

Digital Marketing Strategist

In his four years as a digital marketing strategist, Edwards has worked with many local businesses as well as enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is also a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series. Today he continue to work with and establish SEO, PPC and SEM campaigns across all verticals.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change

3 Steps to Building a Brand That Resonates in a Crowded Industry

Here are three key steps to building a brand that stands out.

Business News

A 6-Year-Old Ordered Almost $1,000 Worth Of Grubhub — And Tipped 25% on Each Order

Mason Stonehouse of Chesterfield, Michigan, grabbed his dad's phone and treated himself to chicken sandwiches, ice cream, and more.

Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Money & Finance

Americans Are Underprepared for Retirement. Here's How Small Businesses Can Help Close the Savings Gap.

Half of the American workforce doesn't have access to an employer-sponsored retirement program, yet we are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if we can do so at work — and small businesses can help. Here's how.