As we are all too aware, it’s been another rollercoaster year of drama and anxiety, with 2022 awash with political and economic turmoil, war, and ever-increasing evidence of the devastating effects of climate change.
We’ve also seen ongoing social division, played out with the most intensity – as ever – on social media, while the world of tech continues to throw out developments that will likely change the creative industries forever, as AI and the metaverse (whatever that might turn out to be in real terms) created intense discussion.
Amidst the tumult, brands and advertisers attempted to contribute to the conversation, be relevant in changing times, and offer us a bit of entertainment or light relief, while of course also hoping that we’ll continue to spend some of our increasingly hard-earned cash with them.
Against this backdrop, it’s not easy to make compelling advertising campaigns, and we still continue to see brands all-too-often taking risk-averse, bland approaches. But there was plenty of striking, headline-grabbing work released too: here’s ten of our favourite campaigns of the year.
Nike Air Max Day 3D billboard. Agency: Nike Tokyo, Cekai
Nike has had a very strong advertising year again in 2022, with a 50th anniversary campaign kicked off by Spike Lee and a gloriously entertaining football ad to tie into the World Cup. But it was this 3D billboard campaign which ran in Tokyo in March to celebrate Air Max Day – the annual celebration of the release of the first Air Max shoe, which was 35 this year – that got everybody talking.
Heinz AI Ketchup. Agency: Rethink Canada
If you spent any time on LinkedIn this year, you will likely have noticed the creative and marketing communities having great fun with AI. From Dall-E to Midjourney to ChatGPT, there were multiple ways to be delighted/surprised/terrified by the ways in which artificial intelligence could contribute to the creative conversation.
The time was ripe for an AI ad campaign and Heinz was the brand that did it best, with this follow-on from last year’s Draw Ketchup campaign, which asked people to draw ketchup and saw them draw Heinz bottles in response. Dall-E delivered the same results, reinforcing Heinz’s iconic position in the sector in a fun and very zeitgeist-y way.
CALM, The Last Photo. Agency: adam&eveDDB
A dramatic change of tone now, with this powerful campaign for anti-suicide charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The charity has released numerous highly creative campaigns this year in partnership with various agencies (including this most recent film starring Declan Rice, from AMV BBDO, which highlights loneliness) but it was this work from adam&eveDDB which truly cut through.
The idea behind it – to demonstrate how suicidal thoughts can be hidden by showing the last photos and videos of those who went on to take their own lives – is both simple yet devastating. As well as the film above, the campaign featured posters, a social campaign and an exhibition on London’s South Bank.
British Airways, A British Original. Agency: Uncommon Creative Studio
A feat in copywriting alone, Uncommon’s campaign for British Airways featured 500 different print, digital and outdoor ads, which wittily emphasised that our reasons for travel stretch far beyond just ‘business’ or ‘leisure’ – the standard choices offered by airlines when you book a flight. The campaign was widely shared on social media, generating in part a heated debate around the ethics of agencies working for airlines during a time of climate change – an indication, perhaps, of how successful the ads had been.
Tesco, Voice of the Checkout. Agency: BBH London
@tesco The wait is over! The new #tescovoiceofcheckout is… @dogtor_who ♬ original sound – Tesco
This year saw brands continue to try and reach the massive audiences on TikTok in a way that felt entertaining and true to the platform, and not just salesy. One of the most successful ideas came from BBH London for Tesco, which saw participants audition to be the new voice for the supermarket’s automated checkout machines. The campaign generated a massive response and saw the winner, a veterinary surgeon named Izzy, make her debut in stores in November.
Apple, The Greatest. Agency: Apple
Arriving at the start of December, this spot from Apple follows a series of ads from the tech behemoth which have emphasised its role in doing good in the world. While previous ads have artfully shown how Apple can aid data privacy, this epic spot provides ample demonstration of how its products can aid accessibility. Plus, it’s beautifully shot by Kim Gehrig.
Whisper, The Missing Chapter. Agency: Leo Burnett India
This campaign was created with sanitary product brand Whisper (known as Always in the UK) as part of its Keep Girls in School initiative, which looks to change the fact that one in five girls (around 23 million) in India currently drop out of school at the onset of puberty. This is in part due to the fact that menstruation is not covered in school – the ‘missing chapter’ of the title refers to its absence in schoolbooks – so the brand put up murals and shared leaflets in schools and villages to help share information.
Plum Guide, No Time For Average Stays. Agency: Stink Studios
While many still like to proclaim the death of print advertising, there were loads of great print ads in 2022, from Burger King’s meaty veg to Ace & Tate’s sunglasses ads; plus Lacoste’s ageless style. The biggest talking point that we saw though came from these ads for travel brand Plum Guide which, along with an accompanying app, aimed to terrify you into taking a break.
Ikea, Babyboom. Agency: Try, Norway
Ikea had another strong advertising year but this campaign from Norwegian agency Try was probably the brand at its most ludicrous and fun, as it pitched Ikea product names as options for baby names to parents who were struggling for ideas. Amadeus or Rakel anyone?
Coinbase, Less Talk, More Bitcoin. Agency: Accenture Song
If ever there was an ad that summed up the fact that a lot can change in a year, it is this one. Back in February, the Super Bowl advertising seemed to signal that crypto had entered the mainstream with several brands taking out ad spaces, often with celebs galore (including Larry David for um … FTX).
The most audacious spot came from Coinbase however, who simply delivered a bouncing QR code which took viewers to a site where they could sign up for $15 in Bitcoin. While it scored very low for craft, if advertising is about standing out, such a lo-fi approach arguably won Coinbase the Super Bowl. Who knew then that a crypto winter was waiting in the wings?