With 2018 quickly nearing an end, it’s time for advertisers to get serious about setting their goals and strategies for the year ahead. If you’re looking for inspiration, there’s no better place to start than by rounding up all the successes and failures of the past year – and that’s just what we aim to do here!

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most buzzworthy digital campaigns of 2018, and break down what exactly made them so successful.

From stunts to strategy, here are some biggest and buzziest campaigns of the year:


1. ESPN’S Disruptive Promotion of the NBA Finals


To promote the 2018 NBA Finals, ESPN sent AirDrop messages to iPhone users in the New York City area, asking why they weren’t watching the game and encouraging them to tune in. The campaign’s goal was to create a sense of FOMO and to engage users in an all new way on their mobile devices.

ESPN primarily ran the campaign to test the personalized AirDrop experience. Of course, they were only able to reach users within a thirty-foot radius, but the campaign was deemed a success in its ability to boost awareness using a fresh new medium.

Key Takeaways: 
If you’re looking to launch a new strategy in 2019, follow ESPN’s lead and start with a test run. This small-scale, low stakes AirDrop test enabled ESPN to determine whether they wanted to launch the initiative on a larger scale.

Taking a small initial step is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t, and to get a better understanding of audience reception.


2. Burger King Gets Political


By 2019, it’s predicted that there will be around 2.77 billion active social media users globally. It’s therefore no surprise that many advertisers are focusing in on social as a key component in their overall digital strategies.

This past year, Burger King created a viral social video that explained a very hot topic, the repeal of net neutrality. To explain what net neutrality is all about, they charged people for Whoppers based on how fast they wanted them. The longer the wait, the cheaper the Whopper.

Key Takeaways: 
Tapping into culturally relevant and timely topics is a great way to create buzz. Not only was Burger King’s social campaign timely, but it was also informative and it took a stand on a social issue that aligned with their core brand values.

Any brand can experiment with fresh new ways of encouraging users to share and engage through education, humor, and relevance. But, remember to tread carefully when it comes to big ticket news and politics. There’s a thin line between what’s appropriate and what’s not when it comes to brands’ social involvement.


3. Wayfair Leverages Instagram To Show, Not Tell


This year, we talked a lot about the rising popularity of shoppable content. Some brands were quick to adapt to shoppable content, and these early efforts paid off in a big way.

The popular home decor shopping site, Wayfair, was an early adopter in implementing a seamless shopping experience on their Instagram feed. Wayfair tagged products, directed users to those products on Instagram, showed a feed of other items from each post, and eventually took users to their site to complete the purchase.

Key Takeaways: 
Social allows brands to show their products in real world use cases rather than stale product pages. Be sure to create a variety of scenes to accommodate different tastes. And, most importantly, make it simple and easy to move from browsing on social, to adding items to your cart, to completing the checkout process.


4. Gordon’s Gin Offers Location-Driven Entertainment


Like personalized ads, location-targeted ads can straddle the line between helpful and invasive.

This year, Gordon’s Gin effectively ran a campaign that used location targeting to notify National Rail passengers about delayed trains, so that they could enjoy Gordon’s Gin during the wait.

For this campaign, age appropriate users were sent a message that alerted them to the nearest place to buy Gordon’s after a delay was announced. Of the people who received this notification, 64% said it made them more likely to purchase.

Key Takeaways: 
To effectively use location-based targeting in a way that’s perceived as helpful, remember to act on opportunities in a way that genuinely benefits your consumers. Gordon’s Gin’s campaign was an entertaining offer for their audiences, and successfully used humor to lighten up an otherwise frustrating situation.


With increasingly sophisticated trends on the rise, from AR and machine learning to ad blocking, 2019 is only poised to deliver even more inventive new campaign ideas than 2018. So, how will your brand keep up?

If you need a new strategy to match the new year, drop us a line at info@taptica.com.