Dec 10, 2019

Campaigns that Changed and Ignited Conversation

Thanks to social media, audiences now have a way to respond to campaigns and voice their opinions, the smarter brands will listen and respond to strengthen their two-way conversation with consumers.

  • Social media has created an opportunity by changing the way brands interact with their audiences, it gives way for deeper conversations that strengthen the business-consumer relationship.
  • Brands can now capitalise on this relationship so that they can start making social changes through their advertising.
  • This article will look at three ads that over the last few years have changed and ignited conversation authentically and transparently.

“Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials.” Sprout Social

Social media has an indisputable role in influencing the new generations and brands should not take this responsibility lightly, they need to focus on continually adapting and strengthening the conversation to ensure they are promoting the best possible message to their audience.

Who has done it right?

Nike, Dream Crazy

Released in 2018, Nike’s advert, ‘Dream Crazy’ sparked both controversy and conversation after featuring former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick in their campaign.

Kaepernick lost his place in the NFL after opting out of his 49ers contract in 2017 following his involvement in peaceful protests which included kneeling during the pre-game playing of the national anthem to bring light to racial injustice and police brutality. Despite igniting nationwide controversy, Kaepernick’s voice was still relatively unknown, but after Nike provided him with the amplification he needed, that all changed.

Following this ad, Kaepernick became an icon for this resistance alongside other athletes featured in the ad, athletes of all levels and abilities who share a common goal of striving for greatness.

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” Colin Kaepernick.

While this ad created both support and outrage from viewers, a conversation of importance was ignited and it continues today. Some fans took to social media to say that up until Kaepernick was included, they had never purchased from Nike but on the other hand, some viewers threatened to burn their shoes and never buy from the brand again.

After the campaign won the Outdoor Lions Grand Prix in Cannes, John Patroulis, jury president of the Outdoor Lions and worldwide chief creative officer at Grey describes the ad as,

“Elevated above almost is one of the most iconic images in advertising in recent years.”

Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor for the market research firm, The NPD Group, found that for every 100 viewers who responded positively to the ad, only one responded negatively.

While Nike experienced an initial dip in sales after the ad was first released, this turned into a 31% online sales growth. This campaign makes it clear that consumers want the brands they purchase from to take a stand on social issues, Nike acknowledged this and created a campaign that would generate a positive response from their core consumers - teenage males - and they have delivered an important message to them with transparency.

Airbnb, Community Commitment


Two years ago, studies found that the sharing economy services including brands like Uber and Airbnb were criticised for discrimination with a plan to move forward by taking a more hands-on approach when dealing with different communities. Airbnb faced complaints regarding owners that were refusing guests based on their race, age, and gender with the threat of potential lawsuits.

Following this backlash, Airbnb decided to take action and enlisted Laura Murphy and Associates to create an anti-bias report - ‘Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion’. In the report, Murphy comments,

“There have been too many unacceptable instances of people being discriminated against on the Airbnb platform because of who they are or what they look like.”

In response, Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb wrote a letter to Airbnb hosts and guests to accompany the report,

“At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong. We don’t say this because it sounds nice. It’s the goal that everyone at Airbnb works towards every day – because we’ve all seen how when we live together, we better understand each other. Discrimination is the opposite of belonging, and its existence on our platform jeopardises this core mission. Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them.”

From this letter, Airbnb’s ad, ‘Community Commitment’, was born where the focus was to ensure consumers thought past just ticking a box associated with a long legal document to agree to the terms, they are asking their consumers to form part of the community and ignite conversation about treating all people with respect and without judgement or bias.

With properties in 34,000 cities in 191 countries, Chesky has ensured that this policy and this ad is not the end of the company’s efforts to overcome discrimination and unlike so many brands, Airbnb took a step in the right direction despite surrounding scepticism and potential backlash.

Renault Clio, 30 Years in the Making


Created by Publicis.Poke, Renault’s ad that celebrates 30 years of Clio depicts the growing relationship of two young girls who meet during a french exchange in the 1990s. Over the years, this friendship blossoms and deepens while following the car model’s various iterations alongside the timeline.

Marketing director at Renault UK, Adam Wood comments:

“Renault brings people’s passion for life a little closer through our cars. We wanted to humanise and celebrate, not just 30 years of progress of the Renault Clio, but also the progress made within culture, society and life in that time. The Renault Clio is as in tune with the times today as it always has been.”

YouGov conducted an analysis - commissioned by Channel 4 - of 1,000 TV adverts over two months alongside 2,000 participants and LGBTQ+ specific focus groups after finding that the community only features in 3% of UK ads. It was found that 60% of participants believe that these ads represented the LGBTQ+ community negatively, stating that LGBTQ+ people were hardly depicted outside of stereotypes or represented as part of a family unit.

Renault Clio’s ad has made clear progress here, with a campaign that has ignored cliches by depicting a very real and heartfelt relationship while not ignoring potential issues present in same-sex relationships but similarly not dwelling too much on them. Adverts will not solve all the problems surrounding the representation of LGBTQ+ communities overnight, but brands like Renault are going in the right direction by telling different stories that matter and igniting more developed conversations.

What can CLICKON offer?

What can be learnt from these ads that broke the mould and spoke about something so many brands are still afraid to do, is that they achieved this through great storytelling. They were able to resonate to their audiences by telling real, raw and emotive stories and this is at the heart of everything CLICKON does. At CLICKON we tell epic, branded stories to help businesses increase awareness, maximise relevance and increase the speed of delivery, but most importantly, ignite conversations that will help send the right message to influential generations.