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    7 campaigns that transcended the turmoil of H1 2022

    A sense of deja vu dominated the first few weeks of 2022 as ongoing effects of the pandemic — as well as social, political and economic strife — made daily life tricky for consumers. The feeling has persisted over the following months, making the first half of this year particularly challenging for brand marketers.

    While global ad revenues are expected to continue growing this year — despite macroeconomic uncertainty and the war in Ukraine — marketers appear to have had a tougher time crafting campaigns that break through the clutter and connect with distracted, ad-weary, cord-cutting consumers than they did over the previous two years. Apart from the challenge of delivering the humor and happiness that consumers so desperately crave, marketers have had to keep an eye on a tightening data privacy landscape and the search for better targeting and measurement for platforms like connected TV. 

    A lot of attention has been focused on how marketers have shifted their bets from nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to broader experiments in the metaverse, a still-developing fusion of the physical and digital worlds. Brands across nearly every vertical have worked to establish a foothold in the space, either in emerging sandboxes or on established gaming platforms. The speed and frequency of activations suggest that it is currently easier to market in a hypothetical world than the real one.

    Every year, Marketing Dive gathers the most impactful and meaningful campaigns of H1. The following standouts demonstrate the ways best-in-class brands have navigated a tumultuous year. Connecting with consumers around pop culture remains a key imperative, as does devising innovative ways to use mobile technology. While purpose-driven marketing has seemingly taken a backseat, several campaigns were able to activate around sustainability and inclusion in new ways, whether with experiential or esports efforts. And — perhaps most importantly — some marketers have deftly figured out how to message around the changing state of the world, as consumers decipher how to live in it.

    Domino’s mind melds with ‘Stranger Things’

    As brands continue to make connecting with pop culture a top priority, Domino’s aimed big, teaming with “Stranger Things,” the streaming sensation that has broken Netflix viewership records with its fourth season. The chain’s “mind-ordering” app — which utilizes facial recognition and eye-tracking features to allow consumers to order pizza using expressions and head movements — also gave fans a chance to play in the show’s universe.

    The effort additionally included a video featuring “Stranger Things” stars. Domino’s commitment helped elevate it beyond the show’s previous brand integrations, of which there have been many.

    “This whole experience is not just a ‘move your head to order a pizza’ type of deal. It’s a deeper experience and it’s a storytelling tool which I think is used very well,” said Dmitrii Osipovskii, interactive creative director at agency PPK, who called out how the campaign delivered “intimacy at scale.”

    Domino’s often bills itself as a tech company that happens to deliver pizza. Deftly combining a cultural play with a test of nascent mobile technology proved to be an experiment even the show’s Hawkins National Laboratory would appreciate.

    Heineken taps into work-life blur

    As the pandemic shows signs of nearing an endemic phase, some brands have zeroed in on pain points of the “new normal,” with Heineken’s entry on this front standing out by combining utility, sympathy and optimism.

    To address the growing work-life imbalance, Heineken launched a campaign around The Closer, a Bluetooth-enabled device that closes work applications when users crack open a beer. Beyond the device itself — which was only available during a one-hour window — the campaign included a high-gloss film and satirical tie-up with comedian Billy Eichner. Altogether, The Closer demonstrates how a brand like Heineken can market around a new reality faced by a target audience of white-collar workers and as it seeks to reinforce a premium positioning.

    “For global brands like Heineken, it can be tough to create a global idea that doesn’t feel generic. The brand has done a consistently great job of bringing the consumer truths of the time into optimistic work. ‘The Closer’ is another strong entry in that journey,” said James Denman, head of innovation and marketing at Yard NYC. “What I love about this idea is it connects modern, pandemic-accelerated behavior with a truth, and feels charming and actually useful to consumers.”

    Tampax, Always bring inclusion to esports

    With gaming and esports pushing further into the mainstream, non-endemic brands are ramping up marketing around an industry that generates more revenue than music, movies and television combined. For many, that means moving beyond the traditional idea of gamers as young men in search of energy drinks and bodywash, as nearly half of gamers are women, per Entertainment Software Association research.

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