Top 5 Marketing Campaigns of 2016

2016 brought us plenty of innovative marketing campaigns, yet what unites our most memorable ones of the year is their focus upon authenticity and gaining trust; distancing from “glossy” and blatantly obvious “marketing” adverts.

So, instead of “here’s what we do/sell and look how great is!” many ads have used humorous, relatable situations, or powerful messages to encourage viewers to think:

  • “this company really knows what it’s doing and I’d feel comfortable spending money (regularly) with them”
  • “it’s not just seeking money – it wants to build a reputable brand and keep customers satisfied”
  • “I really admire what the company is doing – I must keep up to date with it and their products/services”

Here’s a look at our top 5 picks:

  1. Virgin Media (for Virgin TV) – “Masters of Entertainment”

This hilarious, cleverly thought-out ad plays on the common comments and jokes many of us make about relatives being “too old” to understand rapidly advancing technology.

In the advert, young children are portrayed as almighty, all-knowing beings, stating abilities such as, “I know which remote controls which box”, and a young boy explains: “we are the masters of entertainment because we are seven. You are not. You need help”.

Juxtaposed with these children are fumbling parents, who are unable to work technology in their homes.

It will resonate with solely adult audiences, who may be genuinely comforted by the advert’s promise to “simplify TV”.


  1. Lidl UK – “Lidl Surprises” (2016)

“Lidl Surprises” ran in 2014 and primarily targeted the ‘middle class’ customer. The “Lidl Surprises” of 2016, however, are now targeting the mass market and regular shoppers.

With a campaign of adverts over the past 5 months – beginning with the “Our Scotch Beef” ad in July – Lidl has been combatting misconceptions of the quality of their products by confronting consumer fears head-on.

They’re using an authentic approach: they quell customers’ doubts about Lidl’s produce by taking their customers to locations where their produce grows or is farmed.

Lidl is utilising the ads to prove the quality of their products, rather than just telling the audience or attempting to persuade them.Image 2 - Lidyl.jpg

  1. Bodyform – “No Blood Should Hold us Back”

Bodyform is trying to, once and for all, break taboos over periods. Plus, the ad encourages women to do any sport they want, even those typically gendered as “masculine”. Two birds with one stone!

Rather than the clinical “blue blood” used in sanitary product adverts (did you ever see this and panic?) this advert features real blood. The word “blood” is also used, instead of a plethora of euphemisms to mask what they’re actually discussing.

It’s the 21st century and talk of blood in an advert about periods shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it is. Hopefully this is the first of many taboo-breaking adverts from the brand – very excited to see what’s to come!

Bodyform have also started a petition to get “Femojis” – emojis allowing girls and women to talk about periods easily – introduced to the Unicode keyboard!


  1. Channel 4, for the Paralympics – “We’re the Superhumans” aka “Yes I can!”

One advert that really got people talking this year was the tremendous ad created by Channel 4, created to boost viewings of the Paralympics.

Strikingly, the advert doesn’t advertise the Paralympics explicitly, and is a celebration of the achievements many disabled people have made in the face of being told that they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” do something.

These challenges may not be as grandiose as winning a marathon, but are just as important and include everyday issues such as attending school.

From a marketing perspective, the ad helps Channel 4 gain respect from viewers through their push to fight stigma, and reactions such as surprise or awkwardness that people have when seeing people with disabilities on TV and, by extension, to fight these same issues in real life.

Image 4 - Paralympics Mascot.jpg

  1. BT – BT Infinity

The BT Infinity adverts have been cleverly thought-out, as whilst BT essentially uses traditional marketing techniques, they pointedly show that they know they are using these techniques.

To show this awareness, they are drawing attention to what they are doing – the act of marketing.

They have used Alec Baldwin’s “dramatic delivery”, and then a meta-cinema approach to draw attention to the scripted set-up of Ryan Reynolds’ scene, for example.

Both methods show how they’re aware that pure marketing – which doesn’t connect with consumers and cares only for their money – can be boring.

BT’s sarcastic, humorous approach also suggests they only really do adverts out of necessity so at least want to entertain viewers.

BT achieves trust and respect from consumers, who will see BT as more genuine.

Image 5 - Ryan Reynolds.jpg

Jack Roberts 

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