4 Inspiring Brand Campaigns from 2021 — and Key Takeaways for 2022

By Taylor Gallagher, Account Director, Consumer

Let’s face it — 2021 was yet another roller coaster of a year. Although the pandemic was still prominent, with the vaccine rollout many began to look toward a more hopeful future. Brands started to operate more “normally” once again. This resulted in brand campaigns that reflected both that promise of normalcy as well as a level of authenticity that consumers now demand.

As brands build out 2022 strategies and activations, it’s only natural to reflect on the past year’s successes and determine key takeaways to draw inspiration from. Here’s a quick overview of a few of our favorite campaigns that truly moved the needle.  

Chipotle brings ‘Booritos’ to the metaverse with Roblox

This past Halloween, Chipotle teamed up with gaming platform Roblox to give away $1 million worth of free burritos through its coveted annual ‘Boorito’ promotion. Each day, the campaign prompted Roblox users to put on virtual, Chipotle-themed costumes and visit the restaurant’s in-game location for the chance to receive a promo code for a free burrito. The experience was further amplified by additional offerings. These included a Chipotle Boorito Maze experience and exclusive themed items for Roblox avatars.

Why it was a winner: Chipotle smartly focused this brand campaign on an experience and value exchange that was authentic to both the Roblox platform and its users. They also displayed a rich understanding of the gaming community.

Dove brand campaign tackles digital distortion

In an effort to combat the adverse effects of selfie culture, Dove launched the “Reverse Selfie” campaign. It aimed to start a discussion around how digital alteration can negatively affect self-esteem. The campaign begins with a young woman posting a picture of herself on social. It then plays in reverse — removing all the “tweaks” that created the finalized image to reveal that the young woman is actually a young girl. The video goes on to encourage watchers to have #TheSelfieTalk to promote body positivity. It also links to a webpage with resources along with a prompt to take the #NoDigitalDistortion pledge.

Why it was a winner: The brand campaign showcased why advocacy and messaging-focused marketing that aims to spur meaningful conversations can be more effective than campaigns that just focus on product.

Starburst capitalizes on the “Berries and Cream” resurgence on TikTok

TikTok has become known for catapulting nostalgic songs and jingles back into current day pop. This past year, that included Starburst’s “Berries and Cream” spot from 2007. Starburst was, I’m sure, pleasantly surprised to find their 14-year-old ad featuring the Little Lad gained 1 billion+ views on TikTok. The brand smartly — and quickly — jumped on the buzz with a new jingle, fresh hashtags and even a Little Lad Halloween costume.

Why it was a winner: Starburst was able to successfully capitalize on this cultural buzz not only because they were the original creator, but because they moved quickly and provided value through the new and compelling campaign extensions.

McDonald’s wins with additional Famous Order Trays

This past year, McDonald’s once again took social media by storm when they expanded their Famous Order Tray campaign. These celebrity partnerships kicked off in 2020 with Travis Scott and went on to include J. Balvin, BTS and Mariah Carey. One partnership that was especially successful was with rapper Saweetie. This is largely because she is a self-proclaimed brand fan and known for organically sharing her love for McDonald’s on social.  

Why it was a winner: These campaigns validated the power behind authentic celebrity endorsements. They allow you to not only tap into the celeb’s engaged following, but also allow the brand to connect with new target audiences.

Some of the key takeaways for 2022 brand campaigns? Explore new platforms. Keep it authentic. Tackle meaningful issues. Be prepared to act fast to seize what might be quickly fleeting brand opportunities.

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