Monday, January 1, 2018

Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2017

With 2017 now history, it's time for my annual "Top 10" marketing highlights post – incredible to believe this is my 8th annual post featuring annual marketing highlights. Without further ado, let's get to it! What campaigns were great? Which were duds? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history as memorable as Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad? What do you remember from the 2017 marketing reel?

With a quick nod to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:

Number 10: On January 1, 2017, residents of Los Angeles, California, were welcomed not by the well-known Hollywood sign over Hollywood, but instead, by a sign that read Hollyweed. With the legalization of recreational marijuana, some vandals thought they would play a joke on the city. Jokes of this magnitude are not funny, and law enforcement certainly didn't think so.

Number 9: In March, international brand Coca-Cola fired its chief marketing officer (CMO) and chose NOT to hire a new one. As a result, the role of the CMO was put into question not just at Coke, but at other businesses too - large and small, B2B and B2C.

According to Fergus Jarvis on, "Once upon a time, the chief marketing officer was a simple custodian of a brand. But the role is changing rapidly. Nowadays, they are more deeply involved in a business’ proposition, customer journey, technology and sales. Consequently, marketing functions face immense pressure on resources and bandwidth. But on the flip side, never before has the function been so business-critical or the CMO’s importance to the chief executive so self-evident. Ironically, while the function’s work is becoming more strategically important to the business, CMOs are running to keep up with the tactical demands of a vast and fast-changing digital landscape."

Number 8: In April, United Airlines forcefully removed a passenger from one of its airplanes, and in the modern social media and smartphone era, the violent action was taped by many passengers and picked up by major news sources. The public relations crisis that followed did nothing to restore the public's confidence in United Airlines or its personnel. According to Steve Barrett of PR Week, "Communication, especially in a service business such as an airline, starts with every member of staff that interacts with the public. You earn your reputational chops every day, from the CEO down."

Number 7: In May, after a year of working with guest hosts, Kelly Ripa of morning TV talk show fame finally welcomed a new co-host, Ryan Seacrest. The ABC morning show was quickly and seamlessly re-branded from "Live with Kelly" to "Live with Kelly and Ryan."

Number 6: In June, to celebrate the legacy of Adam West, better known by his alter ego Batman, the city of Los Angeles became Gotham City for one night, when the bat-signal was projected, aka, lit, against City Hall.

Number 5: In August, Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week launched a slew of co-branded partnerships - some more appropriate than others - that included Southwest Airlines, Oceana, Georgetown Cupcake, Lokai, Coldstone Creamery, and the National Aquarium located in Washington, D.C.

Number 4: Did you see the total solar eclipse in August? According to NASA, "Experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live happens about once in 375 years. So, unless modern medicine advances considerably in the next few years, you might not make it to the next one. The last time anyone in the United States witnessed a total solar eclipse was almost 40 years ago, on February 26, 1979. It's been even longer - 99 years - since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The total eclipse on June 8, 1918, passed from Washington to Florida." So, with all the buzz about the eclipse, how did brands capitalize on the buzz and also join in the fun? One brand in particular has hit a home run with its marketing campaign to promote the eclipse. For the first time, Krispy Kreme’s Original Glazed Doughnuts was "eclipsed by a mouth-watering chocolate glaze" that coincided with the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, at participating United States shops. (Click here to read my post on the eclipse.)

Number 3: In September, Paris won the 2024 Olympics, and Los Angeles won the 2028 Olympics in an unprecedented joint decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). While the Paris logo incorporated the Eiffel Tower and was an overall good logo, the LA logo was not such a good choice. Designers explained that the setting sun was the inspiration, but it had no references to either the logo from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics or the city overall.

Number 2: Also in September, Hillary Clinton's long-awaited book entitled WHAT HAPPENED about the 2016 presidential election was released. The title could have been What Happened? or even What Happened!, but without any punctuation, the title was not as powerful as it could have been. The jury remains out about the book, and as 2017 drew to a close, Hillary's impact on the future of the Democratic party was still unclear.

And Number 1 on my 2017 Marketing Highlights List:

Drum roll please...
While the expected birth of Prince William's third child and Prince Harry's engagement were announced during 2017, the birth and wedding will take place during 2018, and as a result, will appear on 2018's marketing highlights list since they will have countless marketing influences on products, news, and more. However, Pantone chose to highlight the royal family and its upcoming eventful year by naming the 2018 Color of the Year as Ultra Violet, otherwise known as purple - for royalty, perhaps?

According to Pantone's website: "A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future. As individuals around the world become more fascinated with color and realize its ability to convey deep messages and meanings, designers and brands should feel empowered to use color to inspire and influence. The Color of the Year is one moment in time that provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design, reflecting the Pantone Color Institute’s year-round work doing the same for designers and brands."

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2018 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Image Credit: Pantone.

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