Marketing campaigns can create lasting impacts or they can fizzle out as quickly as they came. Over the past year, 3 major campaigns caught our eyes. These campaigns, while on an international scale, can teach lessons that can be applied to the smallest of organizations. 

Barbie's Marketing Dreams Big

Plenty has been written about the Barbie Movie’s marketing — from brand tie-ins to turning the world pink. But there is a reason for that: It was genius. 64 years in the making, but still genius. Barbie didn’t just roll up in a pink convertible fresh from the Dream House and debut a massive promotional campaign. Mattel has spent decades building and evolving a brand. There have been ups and downs, wrong turns, and social backlash along the way. 

So what can you, a non-global conglomerate, learn from Mattel and the Barbie Movie?

Building a fan base and delivering what that fan base desires is genius.

You don’t need to be one of the largest toy manufacturers to build a loyal following. You just need to provide what your customers want in a way that makes them feel good and feel connected to you — like creating a monthly newsletter featuring blogs and news about the team. (If you came here from our Newsletter, welcome to the fan base!)

Grimace Shakes Up TikTok

Was the Grimace Shake marketing successful? Success in this example is in the eye of the beholder. A beholder that sees a bunch of weird videos and accepts it all for what it is…. ALL OF IT.

The actual marketing for the Grimace Shakes was as straightforward as it gets. Grimace is celebrating his birthday, so here is a purple milkshake: textbook. 

What made it great was the organic evolution of the campaign. A young audience completely transformed McDonald’s approach. The TikTok users created videos showing the “effects” of drinking the shakes becoming more and more unhinged as the trend took off. 

This is when McDonald’s had a choice: either accept it or fight it. Traditionally, a corporation might have fought the trend. Putting out releases saying that their shakes don’t kill people or make them ravenous. They could have scolded an entire audience with increasing buying power. Instead, they acknowledged the trend on social media. They didn’t necessarily participate, because they still of course have a brand image to maintain, but they said, “We see you… carry on.”

What did we learn from a purple mascot?

Embrace the weird. Embody the nontraditional. Bend or break the rules you’ve learned from countless people in suits. Does your audience want weird? Get weird. An organization can be different without scaring its audience (yes, this doesn’t apply 100% of the time, I know). Personality and weirdness belong alongside your mission and values.

Fiat Shades of Gray

Fiat, makers of everyone’s favorite small Italian car, has taken a stance against the color gray. In an ad featuring its chief executive officer Olivier Francois, Fiat has declared it will no longer make gray cars. It will be living its dolce vita with vibrance and excitement. Why is this exciting? Given that gray, black, and white cars are some of the top-selling new cars around the world, it’s quite the decision to stop selling monochromatic vehicles.

Fiat has decided to differentiate itself in a big way and hopefully stir up excitement and sales in the process. They are saying “This is our brand. It’s exciting, fun, energetic,” but in a fun Italian accent that is charming and makes you question your nasally Northeast Ohio-accented vowels. Fiat is stepping away from other car makers by showing their personality rather than focusing on vehicle quality or safety, which are aspects that every car manufacturer attempts to focus on.

What have we found from Fiat?

Be different. Lean into your brand and commit to what makes your organization different. Stop competing in the areas everyone else is. That’s going to be way too difficult and ultimately just create a duplicate of everything else already in the market. Find what makes you unique, and let the world know about it.

Over the past year, Fiat, Mattel, and McDonald’s have all done something I suggest each organization attempt: Be different. Take a deep dive into your organization and discover what makes you stand out from the crowd. Find your unique selling proposition and create a strategy for distributing that message. Lean into the thing that makes you different and unique. And for the sake of everyone who is subjected to advertising on a daily basis, make it a little weird.

Reach Out to Break Out

Looking for something different? Something creative? Something odd? Reach out to us. We live for opportunities that let us stretch our weird muscles.