Many marketing campaigns in 2017 grabbed our attention with emotional messages and important social commentary; however, there is often no match for the buzzworthy moments created by humorous and irreverent marketing strategies. Brands big and small created buzzworthy campaigns that kept us talking and sharing on social media. These lightning in a bottle moments create incredible momentum for businesses in 2017.

Wendy’s Drops the Mic on the Mac

If you could call being “savage” a campaign, Wendy’s is certainly leading the pack. In 2017 a Twitter user posed a question to Wendy’s asking how much a Big Mac costs (the signature sandwich at its rival McDonalds): the reply from Wendy’s, “Your dignity,” was the ultimate Twitter mic drop. Wendy’s is an example of a company whose savvy marketing team clearly understands the power of social media and how to attract people to become followers.

Wendy’s has mastered the art of humor and sarcasm on social media: they do it consistently and keep followers engaged with their constant “zingers” and jokes at the expense of the competition. They also understand the importance of staying engaged with followers and posting user generated content. One especially memorable exchange came from a user who asked how many retweets were needed to win free chicken nuggets for a year. Wendy’s quickly confirmed that number was 18 million! And the exchanges with customers aren’t just humorous; Wendy’s responds quickly to customer complaints, which is crucial when it comes to customer loyalty.

Denny’s: Less Savage than Wendy’s, But Still Getting Laughs

While restaurant chain Denny’s has gained massive attention on social media with humor, they might be considered a “softer” version of Wendy’s…think of them as your goofy, suspenders-wearing Uncle Fred (versus Wendy’s as your often-inappropriate-at-the-family-reunion Aunt Janice). Denny’s approach to online marketing is upbeat, mostly wholesome, and fun, even if followers sometimes simultaneously groan while laughing. Their twitter feed may elicit responses equivalent to an “eye roll” at times, but the strategy is working. In recent years their social media campaign following has seen massive growth, and whether we love their jokes or cringe when reading them, Denny’s is getting the last laugh. In 2017 when their sausage “mascot” was roasted on social media for resembling a bathroom byproduct, Denny’s grabbed the bull by the horns and responded with a timely, and perhaps just a bit snarky, response. A picture of a “sad” sausage was posted with the message “I’m just a sausage…I can’t help the way I look.” Said sausage was being comforted by an equally sad-looking bacon strip in a classic Denny’s rebuttal. Even if we groaned, we are bound to keep watching for more, just as we’re bound to appease Uncle Fred by laughing at his jokes and accepting the hard candy he always carries in his pocket.

marketing viral content

Gucci FTW with TFW

Gucci went FTW (“for the win”) in 2017 by capitalizing on the popular TFW (“that feeling when”) trend on social media and instagram marketing campaigns. In a meme-focused campaign launched on Instagram, the luxury brand used the knowledge of their target audience and essentially poked fun at the absurdity of the high fashion industry and its wealthy clientele, seemingly oblivious to the over-the-top price tags that cause the everyday Joe’s jaw to drop. The posts focused on Gucci watches, in a variety of outlandish settings. One featured a model donning a swim cap, a sequined jumpsuit, and the caption “When you have Aquagym at 3 pm but you need to accessorize existential angst externally.” In another post two coffee mugs are bound together by a Gucci watch with the caption “How it looks when everything in life starts coming back together.” Oh, how we all love a success story on social media, and we are thrilled to imagine the struggling soul whose life came back together….thanks to a luxury watch and mugs surely filled with the world’s finest java. We tip our (Gucci) hat to this cheeky and highly entertaining campaign.

MailChimp: When in Doubt, Poke Fun at Yourself

In the ultimate example of self-deprecation as a marketing strategy to build brand awareness, MailChimp decided that the frequent mispronunciations of its company name could translate into a clever campaign. And they were right. MailChimp embarked on a memorable and hilarious marketing campaign, which included videos, events, and products all centered around the butchering of their own brand name: KaleLimp. FailChips. JailBlimp. MailShrimp. The truly genius result was when users searched Google for these names, they were all directed to the MailChimp website. Leave it to a marketing company to produce one of the year’s best marketing campaigns. Kudos to you, SailGimp.

Delta Knows We Love to Look Good

Delta partnered with dating site Tinder on a clever marketing strategy that ultimately poked a little fun at our growing need to impress others with our “fabulous” lives on social media. On a wall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (what better place to attract hipster singles?) Delta worked with Wieden + Kennedy New York and Colossal Media to paint a series of nine exotic locales. The aim was to attract those in the dating scene to pose for selfies to use in their online profiles, because as the signage on the wall pointed out “World Travelers are More Likely to Be Swiped Right.” While it is unlikely these images generated any fairy-tale romances, the stunt certainly generated plenty of buzz on social media, and the beleaguered airline industry was certainly overdue for a good laugh and some positive feedback. The installation, which was originally intended as a one-off project, continued to evolve throughout 2017 as a form of viral marketing…we guess you could say it really took off.

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