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Most Impactful Ads of 2019: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

As citizens of planet Earth, we are surrounded by advertising every day, and brands are keenly aware of this. In order to stand out in the crowd, they need an impressive brand strategy that captivates and communicates their message well. At least, that’s the ideal approach. Sometimes, ads make an impact on brand awareness for the wrong reasons.

In 2019, some ads were able to make a larger impact on the noisy ad landscape than others. By using YouGov’s BrandIndex tool, Forbes has identified which brands saw the most significant jumps in advertising awareness. Which brands became a household name last year? And more importantly, what did they do right (or wrong)? Let’s find out.

#1: Doordash

Take Away: The Powerful Combination of OOH and Digital Advertising

Doordash is a member of a consistently growing club: food delivery apps. Along with Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates or Favor (only for Texans), we have a lot of options when it comes to having food delivered to our front doors. Since these are apps that users tend to stick with once they find one they like, generating brand awareness is a must.

Doordash ran several campaigns in 2019. “Delicious at Your Door” was their first national advertising campaign, followed later in the year by their “Pop-up” and “Every Flavor Welcome” campaigns. They used multiple OOH platforms, including transit shelters, billboards, bus wraps, wallscapes & taxi tops, to deliver their brand around 13 cities nationwide. They also took advantage of digital advertising to extend their message on the web in addition to their outdoor exposure. Doordash’s advertising awareness score steadily increased throughout the year, ending at their highest point in the brand’s history.

#2: Peloton

Take Away: Messaging Mishaps Have Unintended Consequences

Peloton also ended 2019 with its highest advertising awareness score ever, thanks in no small part to its infamous holiday spot. The ad, which features a husband gifting an exercise bike to his wife, was the subject of a lot of online criticism after it aired, something the company had likely not anticipated.

For better or worse, Peloton has more brand recognition than it ever has before. The advertising awareness score doesn’t tell us whether this recognition comes with positive or negative associations. Let Peloton’s holiday ad campaign serve as a cautionary tale; messaging matters. Examine your creative closely to ensure your messaging can’t be misconstrued or reflect unflatteringly onto your brand, which can be a challenge in today’s climate of hypersensitivity to social issues.

#3: Lincoln

Take Away: The Face of Your Ad Campaign Can Still be Important

Maybe this isn’t that surprising, but starpower has an impressive knack for grabbing our attention in advertising, and Lincoln utilized this tactic throughout 2019. Of course, we all know Matthew McConaughey drives a Lincoln - and he’ll continue to do so as the face of their 2020 Lincoln Aviator campaign (launched in late 2019, giving them a late year awareness boost). The car company also recruited Serena Williams for a campaign that aired during the 2019 Grammys, serving Lincoln a spike in brand awareness earlier in the year.

In other celebrity pursuits, they hired musician/actor Jon Batiste to be the host of a music contest in which the winner will appear in a Lincoln ad. For a print and digital campaign, they brought on famous photographer, Annie Leibovitz. Lincoln shows us all that if we have a large enough ad budget to spend on top-billed talent and Oscar-winning actors, these big investments really can have a strong positive impact.

#4: Purple

Take Away: When in Doubt, Play into Your Strengths

Purple is one of literally hundreds of mattress brands that have flooded the US market in recent years. With such intense competition, it is incredibly important that their advertising helps them stand out and get noticed. To do this, they lean on quirky, humorous online videos almost exclusively, a move that has resulted in a steady climb of their advertising awareness score throughout 2019.

Last year, Purple also took the plunge into linear TV advertising, taking its unique tongue-and-cheek creative to a broader audience. Now, the mattress brand is neck-and-neck with Casper, which has found its own advertising niche with literally every podcast. The point is, don’t be afraid to lean into a distinct brand voice and creative to help you break away from the crowd. Sometimes, it’s not enough to simply espouse the benefits of a product or service. You’ve got to be interesting, too.

#5: Duluth Trading Co.

Take Away: Keep Things Simple

Duluth, much like Purple, utilizes humor in their advertising campaigns, but they approach things a bit differently. Their ad spots are typically short, animated videos featuring a baritone-voiced narrator. The ads are straightforward, quippy, very effective at grabbing a viewer’s attention and communicate the apparel company’s message with little fuss. Ad campaigns don’t always need an A-list celebrity or a coordinated nationwide approach to work.

In 2020, How Will You Make an Impact?

There is no single overarching conclusion we can draw from the successes of these brands’ advertising campaigns in 2019. Each took a truly individualized approach, taking into consideration what was best for the brand - at least for 4 out of 5 of them. Going into 2020, remember that advertising is just as much of an art as it is a science - there is no one-size-fits-all campaign. Making magic happen takes careful planning and an experienced eye. Wherever the year takes you, remember that our media stewards are willing and ready to lend you our expertise. We’ll get your creative to the right channels and platforms regardless of your approach or budget.

Contact The Ward Group today to get better acquainted with our media planners and buyers, and make sure you’re on the “Good” list for 2020.

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