The 8 Best Brand Moments Of 2019

Here are the moments that defined brand storytelling this year, from the deadly serious to the seriously silly.

The 8 Best Brand Moments Of 2019

by Dan Argintaru

Posted on 12-01-2019

If2019 taught us anything, it’s that standing out in the information age meansthinking outside of the box. 

From purpose-driven companies like Gillette, which took a stand with its “We Believe” campaign, to consumer favorites like Wendy’s, which subverted the world’s most popular online game with “Keeping Fortnite Fresh,” this was a year to be bold. 2019 also showed us that the biggest risk a marketer could take was to take no risk at all.

Here are the moments that defined brand storytelling this year, from the deadly serious to the seriously silly.

Gillette Challenges Men To Be Better

Gillette’s “We Believe” ad was unavoidable last January. Revisiting its 30-year-old slogan “The Best a Man Can Get,” the world’s biggest razor brand challenged men to rethink their view of masculinity in a more inclusive society. As expected, the response was mixed. Some applauded Gillette’s attempt at curbing the negative effect of male toxicity, while others argued its message undermined men’s rights at the peak of the #MeToo movement. Like it or not, “We Believe”kicked off an impossible-to-miss conversation, and for that reason alone it goes down as one of the year’s seminal brand moments.

Taco Bell Goes Boutique

From its burritos to its ad campaigns, Taco Bell is all about cheesiness. What other brand would let customers get married in its Las Vegas flagship location? This year, Taco Bell took the cheese factor to new heights by opening an exclusive pop-up hotel for its fans. “The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort” became the experiential event of the year, with rooms selling out in just two minutes, with a flurry of conventional and social media coverage that was the envy of every competitor. It was yet another clinic from Taco Bell on how to keep things fresh for customers while staying true to the brand.

Volvo Makes Every Car Safer

Sixty years after one of its engineers invented the three-point seatbelt, Volvo’s commitment to driver safety lives on. In 2019, the company addressed a major flaw in car safety tests: crash test dummies tend to represent males of average height. Through its E.V.A. Initiative (Equal Vehicles for All), Volvo made more than 40 years’ worth of crash test data available to all car manufacturers, helping them to make their vehicles safer for passengers of all shapes and sizes. Not only did the campaign combine a genius concept with social purpose, its engagement numbers weren’t too shabby either. Volvo’s E.V.A. case study has reached nearly 24 million views on YouTube.

Nike Dares Us To Dream Crazier

Nike is no stranger to controversy. Following its 2018 “Just Do It” ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, the sportswear giant doubled down with a new campaign, “Dream Crazy,” launched during this year’s Oscar awards. Narrated by tennis great Serena Williams, the ad highlighted the hypocrisy endured by women in sports, even as they continue to break barriers in events from gymnastics, to weightlifting, to tennis. At a time when so much content around sex and gender felt tone-deaf, Nike’s ad was a welcome rallying cry that cut straight to the core. It also picked up every award possible along the way, including a Cannes Lions Grand Prix.

IKEA Democratizes Home Design

From students to socialites, grandchildren to grandparents, it’s hard to think of anyone who doesn’t own at least one IKEA product. However, people with special needs need more than designer furniture and home décor; they need products that improve their quality of life. IKEA Israel took this challenge to heart in 2019 with its ThisAbles campaign, enlisting a team of designers and individuals with special needs to make some of its most popular household items more widely accessible. The campaign was a hit with customers and the awards circuit, proving that inclusive ideas benefit everyone—and that profit and purpose are not mutually exclusive forces.

P&G And Spotify Champion Racial Harmony

P&G took a major stand this year with “The Look,” a sobering two-minute ad revealing the harsh truth of racial bias in today’s society. A few months later, the company collaborated with Spotify on “Harmonize,” a podcast that draws on conversations with influential African-American musicians to champion music as a platform for racial harmony. Not only is this a bold move for a brand that has been around since the 19th century, P&G also took advantage of a new medium to spread its message—in this case, Spotify’s latest feature allowing brands to target podcast listeners.

Adobe Trolls Game Of Thrones

No matter how people felt about the final season of “Game of Thrones,” it’s clear that no expense was spared by brands looking to align themselves with the show. This wasn’t the case for Adobe, however. No need for Super Bowl airtime or million-dollar sponsorships—just a creative spark and a moment of inspiration. At one point during the season’s fourth episode, a Starbucks Coffee cup appeared on a table in front of Emilia Clarke’s character, Daenerys Targaryen, and the Internet went berserk over the blunder. Seeing an opportunity, Adobe used its After Effects software to delete the cup from the scene and posted the new version on Twitter, earning kudos from thousands of GoT fans while also showing off the impressive artificial-intelligence features of its Creative Cloud suite of apps.

Wendy’s Keeps Fortnite Fresh

“Fortnite Battle Royale” was the most streamed video game on Twitch this year, with more than 1 billion players. Aside from sponsorship, however, brand activations via Fortnite were seen as impossible, until Wendy’s saw a meaty opportunity to reach its audience organically. During an in-game food fight between “Team Burger” and “Team Pizza,” Wendy’s noticed that the former was storing its meat in freezers, which went against the company’s militant campaign against frozen meat. Wendy’s created its own avatar and joined the game but, instead of choosing a side in the fight, its character spent nine hours destroying all of Team Burger’s freezers. Other players quickly joined in, while Fortnite’s biggest influencers shared live streams with their millions of followers. Even national news outlets took notice. By thinking laterally and looking beyond its products, Wendy’s won the allegiance of millions of fans and the respect of advertisers everywhere, topping it off with a Grand Prix at Cannes.

Topics: Experience Cloud, Digital Transformation, Advertising, Marketing, Customer Acquisition, CMO by Adobe

Products: Experience Manager, Experience Cloud, Creative Cloud