5 Marketing Campaigns that Changed the World

Written by
Isabel Edwards

The average person is shown 5,000 ads per day.

We’ve built a resistance to marketing campaigns. We’re immune to them.

So when we see one that moves us, brings a tear to our eye, makes our arm hairs stand up, or changes the way we think, it’s kind of a big deal.

Here’s six campaigns that did just that for people all over the world...

Billie - Project Body Hair

The Campaign

Simply put; this video is bad-ass.

In the first few seconds your ears are blasted with ‘WHO THAT IS, H**? THAT GIRL IS A TOMBOY!’ which instantly makes me want to throw on a leather jacket and punch an inanimate object.

Close up shots pan over every kind of hair you could imagine.

It almost feels like an invasion of privacy, as hairy lady shins are not what we’re used to seeing in the media.

But, the women look strong, empowered and totally at ease.

The Reaction

I’m sure you can already imagine the uproar this caused, but here are some of the most ridiculous reactions to the campaign:

Billie have honed in on their target audience, given zero f**ks about anyone else's opinion and delivered exactly what their customers want from a razor brand.


Oatly - It’s like milk but for humans

The Campaign

This is a fun post to write because I love these campaigns so much.

These brands truly do not care about what anyone thinks other than their target audience.

It’s fantastic.

Oatly first launched the ‘It’s like milk but for humans’ campaign in Sweden alongside some rather creative ads like this one:

It didn’t go down well. In fact, the company received a lawsuit on its doorstep pretty swiftly from milk industry giants.

Oatly lost the lawsuit, but their campaign didn’t stop there.

They invested £700,000 into advertising the message in the UK hoping that consumers would switch out dairy milk for their oat-based drink.

The Reaction

Obviously die-hard milk lovers still had their beef (pardon the pun) with the ad, but here’s just a snippet of the overwhelming positive response they received…

You may be thinking ‘Cool. But did they sell more oat milk?’

You bet they did.

Here’s what the Financial Times reported after the campaign was released...

“The scramble for oat milk is so intense that Oatly, a large Swedish producer, has been forced to delay production of certain products so that it can meet demand in existing markets such as the US and the UK.

“We’re seeing hyper growth in demand,” said Ishen Paran, UK general manager at Oatly, which expected its turnover this year to rise almost 60 per cent to £84m.”

Oatilicious. You go Oatly. I’m rooting for you.

Bodyform - Blood Normal

The Campaign

I’ve never seen a video so effortlessly encapsulate a realistic experience of a period.

Women aren’t always aggressively playing sports, randomly dancing wearing whilst wearing a pad and we certainly don’t produce that weird blue liquid.

As the Bodyform campaign shows, we do experience misogyny, asking for tampons in awkward situations and period cramps so bad we can’t even make it out the front door.

The Blood Normal campaign is refreshing AF.

It straight up represents real experiences, and even made history as the first campaign to show real blood in a tampon ad.

But how did the general public react to the horrors of the natural female cycle?

The Reaction

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 was the general consensus around this campaign.

It went down a storm on social media.

Women around the world applauded the bravery of this small but monumental step in advertising.

Bodyform didn’t release any data on sales figures so I can’t comment on how the campaign affected them financially.

But, the impact it had on their brand was immense.

Nike – Dream Crazy

The Campaign

Damn this campaign gets me every time.

I can’t sit through the whole ad without getting a lump in my throat.

And it’s always at the part when it gets to Serena Williams, the girl from Crompton who went on to dominate the tennis world.

The video is narrated by Colin Kaepernick along with the line, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

This statement is a reference to his kneeling protest during the national anthem at a NFL game.

Kaepernick urges us to have ‘crazy dreams’.

“Don't picture yourself wearing OBJ's jersey. Picture OBJ wearing yours… When they talk about the greatest team in the history of the sport, make sure it's your team.”

And finishes with:

“So, don't ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they're crazy enough.”

That’s some powerful shizz right there.

The Reaction

The reaction?

Oh, no big deal. Just an Emmy nomination.

Nike has been placed as a top contender under the Outstanding Commercial 2019 category.

The campaign went viral and currently has over 30 million views on YouTube.

Of course it received a few rather predictable reactions…

But Nike’s core demographic loved the inspiring message displayed in the 2 minute video.

Nike, you’re doing amazing sweetie.

Channel 4 - We're The Superhumans | Rio Paralympics

The Campaign

This. Campaign. Gives. Me. Goosebumps.

Yes. The. Full. Stops. Are. Necessary. Please. Don’t. Question. Them.

The sheer strength and power in this ad is mind blowing.

As a viewer we are shown an incredibly diverse group of people with varying disabilities.

We see astonishing accomplishments like flying a plane with just your feet to everyday tasks like answering the phone without hands.

The campaign shows us that these people are superhumans.

It’s not about being able to do just what an abled person can do.

The messages goes a lot deeper than that. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what the human body is capable of and achieving the impossible.

The Reaction

Unruly tells us that the ad was the most shared ad of Rio 2016, racking up more than 1.3 million shares. The same year it also received a Film Lions Grand Prix award at Cannes Lions.

They also shared some research they conducted into the reaction the campaign evoked.

Amongst viewers, 67% had an emotional response, which is 76% higher than the UK average.

The top emotions felt by the audience were:

Which were all well above the UK norm.

Pretty neat, right?

What am I talking about? Neat doesn’t come close to describing this campaign.


What do these campaigns have in common?

  1. They caused controversy.
  2. They honed in on a niche target audience and went HAM.
  3. They gave zero fudges about what anyone outside this target audience thought.

Here’s to us all creating remarkable campaigns that change society!

Is there an ad you think should be on this list that I’m a complete buffoon for missing?

Let's chat about it on Twitter @mercarto. But please don’t call me a buffoon.

I’m sensitive.

Want your name on the Mercarto blog? Write For Us

Recommended Reads

Finding Your First 100 eCommerce Customers

Download this free resource to get expert tips and advice on how you can sell more products. Learn about social strategies, PPC ads, SEO and lots more ways to get ecommerce customers.