2017's Winners and Losers of Digital Marketing So Far

If you’re looking for the digital marketing winners and losers of 2018, check out our more recent article (although there are some fantastic examples below too).


In terms of digital marketing, we’ve seen a lot this year; from the repeated success of Tom’s #withoutshoes movement and Lynx’s ‘is it ok for guys…’ campaign to the disaster that was Pepsi’s advert starring Kendall Jenner or Nivea’s ‘White Is Purity’ post.

With 2017 being so fraught with political and social tension, it’s unsurprising that brands are striving to tackle bigger, global issues with their advertising. But it’s a fine line to tread and as with anything, if you’re going to do it, do it right. Even without delving too deeply into the political, there are a wealth of examples from this year alone that demonstrate the successes and failures in digital marketing. Let’s take a look at some that stood out from the crowd. 


Ted Baker 

Building on the success of their previous campaign (Mission Impeccable), this year, Ted Baker debuted a 360-degree video that was fully shoppable. Their creative campaign launch centred around the fictional Stepford Wives-style sitcom called ‘Keeping Up With The Bakers’, a parody of the popular TV show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’. Alongside this, they used Instagram for episodic storytelling and teasers, giving users a platform where they could do more than just shop, they can immerse themselves in an elaborate yet compelling story that is brimming with drama and deceit.  

These days, consumers want more from advertising: they want something that gets them hooked with “some form of extra interactivity“. So, in my view, the ‘Keeping Up With The Bakers’ campaign is undoubtedly a digital marketing win; staying true to the brand’s quirky and unorthodox approach, it is highly engaging. And with an increasing industry shift towards storytelling, this campaign has succeeded in drawing an audience in without being glaringly product-focused. Ultimately, yes it is still a selling platform and we know this all the while, but it has an undeniably different feel to it. One which I would argue sets it apart from similar retailers and makes it a clear winner for digital marketing campaigns so far this year.  


And now we have the opposite end of the spectrum… 


CURE Auto Insurance 

With millions of people tuning in from the United States and beyond, the Super Bowl is a prime time for advertisers. Airing an ad during the Super Bowl will undoubtedly get you exposure, but there’s a big difference between the good kind and the bad. CURE Auto Insurance are a good example of the latter, with their ad campaign being deemed “creepy” and traumatising. 

2017’s Super Bowl line-up featured some great examples of digital marketing, including Skittle’s Romance The Rainbow and Mr. Clean’s ‘Cleaner of Your Dreams‘ which were both incredibly well received, but among them was the ‘Don’t Follow Too Closely‘ ad from CURE Auto Insurance. This campaign works on a double entendre, warning people about the dangers of following too closely, on social media as well as in an actual vehicle. While it seems like there could be potential here, it backfired; instead of being funny, it comes across as creepy and leaves the viewer with a negative feeling about the company.  


Dove‘s Real Beauty Bottles 

Whilst its failures aren’t solely down to poor digital marketing, a recent campaign by Dove has undoubtedly earned the Unilever brand a place on this list. Up until earlier this year, toiletries giant Dove celebrated a brilliant reputation, one that promoted diversity, body positivity and self-acceptance throughout its campaigns. And they’ve earned a pretty penny in the process (Dove is the 10th most valuable beauty brand in the world and has an estimated value of £3bn). 

So, how exactly did it go wrong? Well, in a bid to further their body-positive image, they debuted the Real Beauty Bottle campaign, limited edition bottles that reflect the differences in women’s body shapes – ranging from tall and slender to hourglass-shaped. According to Dove, these bottles are “one of a kind” – just like you. I can see their intentions but they have definitely missed the mark here and based on the reactions on Twitter, I’m certainly not the only one who thinks so. 

From the off, there’s something intangibly offensive about the idea of them. Great news, ladies: we no longer have to align our body image with different fruits, we can identify ourselves with bottles of soap instead! But why would customers choose a bottle that mimics their body type? Put simply: they wouldn’t. Are we to pick up bottles that represent the body we want then? Again, no.

Well-intentioned as they may have been, instead of overhauling the ideals of beauty, it seems that Dove are inadvertently suggesting that there is a best body type after all. If their aim was to advance the real beauty debate across social media, then plastering six prescribed ‘body types’ across their own digital platforms hasn’t quite achieved what they hoped. Over the years, the cosmetic giant has done a lot by way of boosting body confidence and self-acceptance. But this? Well, this certainly won’t be going down in the history books as a resounding success. 


What can we learn from this? 

No matter what your business, brand or product is, it is essential to thoroughly consider all aspects of your digital marketing campaign. Exposure can be great for brand awareness and sales but ultimately, there is little value in going viral if it’s for the wrong reasons. The world of digital is a double-edged sword so it’s important to tread carefully and fully consider the potential response from your audience first. 




If you’re looking for guidance with your digital marketing strategy, take a look at some of our previous work and see if we can help your business too.