Let’s face it, the news (and PR) is not all rainbows and unicorns. Everyone has an agenda and, unfortunately, a lot of the time things that are sad, shocking and/or taboo will be chosen over happy stories that warm your heart.
Of course, we’re also in the era of fake news, which only furthers individual agendas. As a former journalist-turned-PR I’ve had to cover my fair share of these stories, but what I enjoy most is putting out feel-good news that inspires, motivates, encourages discussions and forms communities.
Originally, this blog was going to be a simple round-up of my favourite digital PR campaigns of all time – until I noticed a pattern. A lot of my favourite pieces of content are meaningful and value-driven and stick in my mind for all of the right reasons. And so I decided to narrow it down.
As PRs, we cannot underestimate our influence on people’s thoughts and feelings. We should encourage our clients to be their ‘best self’ and to think about what positive and meaningful messages they can disseminate. Equally, we need to take it upon ourselves to come up with purpose-driven campaigns (where we can!) that we and our clients can be proud of. Isn’t it the dream if we can do this and build links at the same time?
I hope you find these campaigns as thought provoking and eye opening as I do.
1. Burger King – ‘There’s More to Life than the Whopper’
As a small business advocate, it really warmed my heart to see a brand as big as Burger King actively encourage its customers to ‘share the love’ by supporting other local independent restaurants during the pandemic. The company also enabled its Instagram to become a platform for other businesses in the hospitality sector to share their signature dishes using the hashtag #WhopperAndFriends. It really portrayed a sense of community spirit and it wouldn’t have cost them a penny to execute!
In a similar vein, the fast-food chain put out the following Tweet in November 2020, essentially promoting its biggest rival. Good on you Burger King!
2. Tesco – ‘Pop To Your Local’
Tesco’s ‘pop to your local if you can’ marketing campaign is another fantastic example of a big brand using its influence for good. The campaign ran across national newspapers, digital outdoor billboards and social media, and coincided with the reopening of pubs during Covid-19. It was revealed as the most effective ad in May 2021 in a study by The Works, produced in association with Marketing Week and the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group.
3. Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam – ‘Window Swap’
Sticking to the ‘pandemic theme’ is another of my all-time favourite meaningful campaigns which is the epitome of escapism. Window Swap was created by a husband-and-wife-team of creatives in Singapore as their “quarantine project”. In a nutshell, Window Swap lets you gaze out of other people’s windows at the click of a button – transporting you to anywhere in the world (perfect timing considering we were stuck indoors for a lot of the time…).
The project has an impressive number of backlinks from more than 3,200 referring domains including the BBC, NY Times, The Guardian, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Mashable and The Verge.
4. Familjen STHLM and Red Pipe Studio – Sound of Colleagues
Born out of a reaction to Sweden’s strict work from home policies during the pandemic, this is a campaign we all needed. Not only is it comforting, but it’s great background noise to listen to while getting your head down. I personally enjoy a mix of the sounds – but not the telephone, never the telephone!
Sounds of Colleagues is so simple and yet so effective, and that’s why I love it so much. I can’t imagine it took too much time to put together and it’s a great example of how two agencies can work in collaboration.
5. Bodyform – Painstories
In a bid to ‘dismantle the shame and silence that stops us (women) getting the help we deserve’, Bodyform put together a weird and wonderful landing page with a range of statistics, quotes and visuals to highlight how severe period pain can be, alongside medically recognised conditions such as endometriosis (which affects 176 million worldwide).
Pain Stories contains a must-see Pain Dictionary which, to me, is the highlight of the campaign – showcasing images of period pain based on real quotes. Stunning, shocking and highly effective. The Pain Museum enables visitors to see the graphics in a virtual gallery, providing a nice interactive touch. It got some lovely coverage in publications including The Metro, Express, Huffington Post and Vogue, but nowhere near as much as it deserved.
6. AMICA – What Living with Dementia Looks Like
First of all, I am an absolute sucker for a ‘slider’ campaign – it’s probably my favourite campaign format right now. The visual element of the content is really hard-hitting and educational and highlights how Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and other forms of dementia affect thinking, emotions and daily activities.
Using the slider function, viewers can see how the same scene may look to someone with and without dementia; the landing page also contains explanations of the perception and behaviour changes that can occur for people living with the condition.
7. Fairmont – Life Without Bees: The Effects on Food
We’re told that the bees are important for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity, but how much have we really thought about this? This slider campaign hooks into a topic we all have in common – our love of food – and highlights what will happen if we don’t save the bees. Even more hard-hitting than that is the realisation that some of the most vitamin and mineral-rich foods are dependent on insect pollination. Fairmont writes that “deficiencies in these nutrients can have devastating effects on human health, with an increased risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as malnutrition and mortality in less-developed regions”.
How can I help the bees, I hear you say? Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me point you in the direction of a campaign some of my colleagues did for Topps Tiles called “My Music Brings All the Bees to the Yard”, which features songs with the buzziest basslines (i.e. those which are within the 250-500 Hz frequency range) that will help attract bees to your garden. Well, no blog is really complete without a bit of agency self-promotion, is it…?
8. Lego – Hospital MRI Scanners
A very recent meaningful ‘campaign’ that I just absolutely love! As part of Lego’s Local Community Engagement Programme, the company is sending custom MRI Scanner Lego sets to hospitals so children can learn all about MRI scans before having one, thus helping to reduce their anxiety. This feel-good CSR campaign gained a lot of traction, with pick-up in a wide range of publications from Mother.ly to Unilad.
9. 5Rights Foundation – Twisted Toys
Hats off to 5Rights Foundation for this campaign – it is one of the best concepts I have ever come across and, alongside its striking visuals and videos, is backed by strong messaging and credible data.
Put simply, Twisted Toys puts a unique twist (pun intended) on the hidden dangers of technology through the creation of a range of fake products, such as the Share Bear, Stalkie Talkie and Pocket Troll. My personal favourite is the Fishing For Likes toy, which highlights how social media can be detrimental to our self-image and self-worth.
What can we take away from these campaigns?
It’s so great to see that, in an age where bad news can often supersede good news, there are still so many purposeful and meaningful campaigns that are created with a desire to educate, or act as a catalyst for change.
Upon reflection of these campaigns, I notice that all of them are visual in nature, which cements the age-old saying that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. Of course, not every campaign needs design to support it, and you should never create a visual for visuals sake, but it can be more effective and attention-grabbing than text alone. In addition, images are processed far faster by the human brain – apparently 60,000 times faster according to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication! Visual content is also more likely to create more social engagement, and we all know how quickly things can take off on social media these days…
Will you pledge to create a meaningful campaign this year?
We want to do good. Our clients want to do good. So let’s make it happen!
Join me and the team at Impression and pledge to create at least ONE meaningful campaign in 2022. Anyone can get involved, whether you work for an agency or in-house, and the campaign can be as big or small as you like. The key is just that it needs to be positive and have that feel-good factor.
Challenge your team to do the same for their clients, and let’s push out some awesome heart-warming/inspirational/impactful campaigns this year.
Let me know if you’ll be making the pledge by tweeting me @_RebeccaSD or using the hashtag #PRpledge. And, if you’re feeling extra generous, a share of this blog would be super appreciated and may inspire others 🙂