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The Top 10 Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns Of All Time

Posted on 24 Aug 2010 in Content Inspiration, Social Media Marketing | 12 comments

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Co-Founder & Digital Strategist at Acquisition Engine, passionate about all things web - especially marketing & startups. Follow @tommizzle !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="//";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Social Media Marketing is in full swing nowadays, and almost all of the world’s top brands are utilising it in one way or another. The campaigns aren’t always the easiest to execute (and sometimes go bad, although that’s another blog post), but if done correctly they have the potential to generate a massive return on investment. Here we look at a rundown of the ten best social media marketing campaigns of all time:

10. Dunkin’ Donuts – Keep It Coolatta

Dunkin’ Donuts came up with an awesome campaign to promote the launch of their Coolatta beverages – a sweepstakes where Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook fans could upload a photo of themselves with a Coolatta beverage to Facebook and automatically be entered into a daily giveaway. The relatively low cost campaign built up their social network following, increased brand & product recognition with the mass of Coolatta-related images flying around the web, and obviously encouraged people to buy their iced-coffee drink too.

Although these kinds of campaigns certainly aren’t rare nowadays, this was one of the first of it’s kind, which is why I think it deserves a space in the Top Ten. Dunkin’ Donuts still have a strong Facebook presence to this day, and run a similar ongoing campaign called Fan of the Week.

Keep It Coolatta

9. Google – Parisian Love

Google did something very uncharacteristic of the search giants on February 2010 and ran a TV advertisement campaign entitled ‘Parisian Love’ in the advertising break of the 44th annual Superbowl. The ad demonstrated some of Google’s many search-based features, and was based around somebody debating whether to move to France to meet up with a lover.  The ad definitely generated a lot of buzz, and stocks rose almost instantly, but was it worth an estimated $5,000,000 price tag for the 53 second slot? Who knows, although the company was last valued at $153.4 billion, so it’s not as if they’re short of the cash.

Google later capitalised on the buzz surrounding its Parisian Love campaign by launching a Search Stories mini-site, where users can create and share their own Superbowl-style advertisement.

8. Dove – Dove Evolution

Dove’s viral video ‘Dove Evolution’ was part of its ‘Campaign For Real Beauty’ launched in 2006, and was the first purpose-built viral video to make a real impact on a marketing campaign for the company. The video features model Stephanie Betts being given a makeover then later being photoshopped, and is supposed to highlight how our perception of beauty is distorted. The video managed to acquire over 11,400,000 views on YouTube, and it has been estimated that it brought in a massive $150,000,000 worth of exposure for the company. Not bad.

The video also managed to inspire a number of spin-off videos, most notably ‘Slob Evolution‘, which went on to be nominated for many prestigious awards, such as a Daytime Emmy and Webby award.

7. Starbucks – My Starbucks Idea

My Starbucks Idea is an excellent example of crowd-sourcing quality information for the purpose of business development. The great thing about this campaign isn’t just that they acquired (and continue to acquire) a huge amount of business ideas for free, but that they’re also generating brand awareness and customer engagement as a bi-product. And just imagine how happy it would make that special someone who got their idea implemented? Priceless. Here are a few of the ideas that made it:

  • Low fat & high-protein items for breakfast
  • Free coffee for Gold Card members on their birthday
  • Starbucks VIP card
  • Splash sticks
  • Buy coffee beans, get a free cup of coffee
  • More…

My Starbucks Idea

My Starbucks Idea crowd-sourced Ideas From The Public To Improve Their Business

6. Evian – Roller Babies

Evian launched its ‘Roller Babies’ video in July 2009 as part of it’s ‘Live Young’ campaign, and instantly gained success.  The video notched up 27,000,000 views on the official YouTube video, and an estimated 61,000,000 views across the web in total, making it the most popular online advertisement ever. What Evian are most proud of though, is the videos ability to inspire conversation – research shows that over 80% of people who watched the clip in either France or America considered discussing it, and over 65% wanted to share it.

The most interesting aspect of Nielsen’s research though, was the fact that 95% of the people in France (one of the countries where the advertisement was first launched) who viewed the video online had not seen the ad on TV. This statistic really cemented the need for online video to run alongside – and possibly even replace – traditional media channels.

5. Everywhere – #BeatCancer

In probably the most noble campaign in our top ten, Everywhere, a social media communications and content company based in Atlanta, Georgia, launched a campaign to raise money for various non-profit cancer organisations. The campaign was based around the idea that #BeatCancer’s sponsors – eBay/Paypal & MillerCoors Brewing Company – would donate $0.01 to charity for every time the hash tag ‘#BeatCancer’ was mentioned on either a blog post, Tweet or Facebook status update. The campaign earned over $70,000 for various charities, and really showed that it’s possible to do something amazing with social media.

Beat Cancer

The Inspiring #BeatCancer Campaign Raised Over $60,000 For Charity

4. Blendtec – Will It Blend?

‘Will it Blend?’ has been going for 3 years now, and is still generating buzz around Blendtec’s products. There’s no doubt that it was (and still is) a successful marketing campaign – it won .Net Magazine’s 2007 Viral Video campaign of the year, the Bronze level Clio Award for Viral Video in 2008, and was also nominated for the 2007 YouTube award for Best Series. Currently, the Will It Blend? series has gathered more than 100,000,000 hits, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon.

3. Obama – Election Campaign

It’s been well documented that Social Media was a huge part of Obama’s election campaign, and that can be backed up by some fascinating statistics regarding what the campaign achieved:

  • 5 million ‘friends’ on more than 15 social networking sites
  • 13 million email subscribers
  • 8.5 million monthly visitors to (at its peak)
  • 3 million online donors

It’s also interesting to compare Obama’s Social Media campaign to that of his nearest rival, John McCain. For example: On election day Obama had 3,000,000 Facebook supporters opposed to McCain’s 600,000, 859,000 MySpace friends opposed to McCain’s 319,000, 115,623 Twitter followers opposed to McCain’s 4,911 and 117,873 YouTube subscribers as opposed to McCain’s 2,902. To sum it up, he absolutely destroyed McCain on every major social media platform, and maybe – just maybe – that’s what gave him the edge in the election.

Obama Election Campaign

Obama’s Social Media Campaign Helped Him Become The First Black President

2. Compare the Market – Compare the Meerkat

The UK-based car insurance comparison site Compare the Market launched its legendary Compare the Meerkat TV campaign in early 2009. The campaign was based around ‘Aleksandr’, owner of Compare the Meerkat, who was getting rather annoyed with people getting mixed up between Compare the Meerkat and Compare the Market, so decided to launch a campaign to inform people of the differences between the two. The campaign went viral in the offline space almost immediately, and the online world wasn’t far behind when the Compare the Meerkat mini-site was launched along with Aleksandr’s Twitter account.

In my opinion, the Compare the Meerkat campaign was the most innovative out of the top 10 – the virality of the content is second to none; I can’t count the amount of people who have asked me if I’ve seen the advert, or reciting any one of the  numerous catchphrases associated with it. The real power comes from how the campaign is so closely linked to the Compare the Market brand, though – Excellent viral content + Heavy brand association = successful marketing campaign. Simples.

1. Old Spice – YouTube Campaign

Yeah, yeah – I know it’s so cliché, and I really was going to put it at number two just to be different, but there are just too many reasons why  the Old Spice YouTube campaign was the best of all time. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • More people watched its videos in 24 hours than those who watched Obama’s presidential victory speech
  • Total video views reached 40,000,000 in a week
  • Campaign impressions: 1,400,000,000
  • Since the campaign launched, Old Spice body wash sales are up 27%; in the last three months up 55%; and in the last month up 107%

Amazing, huh? Sure, a 107% increase in short-term sales is an insanely good return for a marketing campaign, but you really don’t appreciate how good it is until you have a think about the ROI. You see, this particular Old Spice campaign didn’t require a $5,000,000 ad spot, a $8,000,000 celebrity paycheck, or a $15,550,000 video campaign – it’s estimated that the campaign cost a very modest $250,000 to run. Sadly it’s still too early to calculate the actual ROI of the campaign, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s going to be positive.

Thanks for reading! If you think that there’s a campaign that deserves to be in the top 10 that isn’t, please post it in a the comments below.

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  • Andy @ FirstFound

    That Evian ad gave me nightmares. Freakish CGI babies on rollerskates? No thanks…

    The top two and Blendtec show what’s the most important thing for a good viral campaign though – a bit of humour. If these three companies took themselves too seriously, the wouldn’t have come up with such great, funny ads.

  • Tom Layfield

    Hi Andy,

    Have to agree with you there – humour is a fantastic attribute to interject into viral content as it makes for great shareability. The average user is far more inclined to share something lighthearted and fun than something of an extremist nature :)


  • TechuilaSMO

    I’m OK with babies in ad campaigns as long as they don’t start talking. Babies talking with adult voices and language is a huge turn off for me. It’s not funny, just weird. Thanks for the article! There were a few campaigns here I wasn’t aware of.

  • Stuart @ Carat

    How did the Google campaign qualify as one of the 10 best of all time? Ok, it generated a pretty decent number of views and a few UGC videos but seriously, it’s not really the 9th best social campaign of all time is it? How about the Audi A3 launch in the US? Social engagement like you’ve never seen. What about the Doritos campaign? Or the Halo3 campaign? Missed a few obvious ones there…
    Pretty much agree with the top 3 though, nice work

  • Spyder Works Inc.

    I love the Evian babies. I have viewed it countless times on YouTube. I nearly died laughing the first time that I saw it (which was on TV).

  • Brad Jordan

    I can’t believe any list of top social media marketing campaigns would not include the epic effort from BMW. ‘The Hire’ was without a doubt one of the best social marketing campaigns ever, was way ahead of its time, and helped shape the social marketing industry!

  • Eric Edelstein

    We loved what Starbucks was doing so much, we decided to let others do it as well – we created an app for Facebook fan page owners to be able to get “ideas” from their fans.

    Very similar to the way the Starbucks site works – people suggest ideas, they vote, and the organisation shows which ideas they implemented and which ideas inspired the change.

    We’ve created a free version as well, with a wizard – (and click on “next steps” and you can install on any Facebook fan page you have admin rights to).

    I’m very keen to hear what any of you think of it?


  • Claus

    Just a quick question: how much exactly did it cost them to air the original TVC during SuperBowl? Seems like some serious “seeding money”…

  • Claus

    So, this intrigued me. Whereas I do understand that P&G did a great job building on the momentum, this campaign mostly demonstartes the power of major, people-connecting TV events. In German, these connecting TV events are called  “camp fire” – because people gather around it.
    And by no means was this a “cheap” campaign. See for yourself, citated from FastCompany: “The Old Spice campaign wasn’t cheap. The production values were high for
    video, the actor cost money, a team had to keep track of all of those
    mentions of Old Spice zipping around the
    Internet, the scripts were being written by four writers as fast as the
    questions came in, and the whole thing started with a
    multimillion-dollar TV ad buy.”

  • Farfeght

    Tom.  Where you did get that $250000 figure mentioned in Old Spice -section? Do you happen to know more about it, like what the sum did cover?

  • Tung Seng

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  • Greg

    8 out of 10 of the “campaigns” are videos, two interactive web sites. Good writing + Youtube + sharing = value