Screengrab from German government energy-saving advertising campaign

From a live-streamed lettuce stunt to Patagonia owner giving away the company to a German government push to save energy, industry contributors share their favourite campaigns of 2022 as part of our end-of-year series.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
When The Economist compared the brevity of Liz Truss’s premiership to the shelf life of a lettuce, The Daily Star’s live-streamed iceberg of a stunt perfectly caught the mood of the nation during the last weeks of her 45-day tenure in the role of prime minister.

Annie Pettit, chief research officer, E2E Research
When it comes to ads that reach into my soul, Dove tops the list every year. Its ‘Toxic Influencer’ campaign leverages its vast platform to demonstrate the harmful effects that social media can have on the self-confidence of our young people. Rather than sell beauty, this campaign aims to help parents experience and untangle the negative and conflicting messaging their kids are exposed to everyday. Perhaps it’s a bit of recognition that it has played into the problem itself over the years.

Shazia Ginai, chief growth officer, Catalyx
I can never pick just one! I have two favourites: LinkedIn – ‘Follow in her footsteps’, championing a more equitable world of work, sponsoring the women’s summer euros and, Lego ‘Everyone is awesome’, designed to celebrate the diversity of Lego fans and the world around with its buildable display model inspired by the iconic LGBTQ+ rainbow flag. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by these choices. I am a huge advocate for inclusion and both of these campaigns are contributing to the shift in the narrative around identity. Proud to see this, long may it continue.

Kelly Beaver, chief executive UK and Ireland, Ipsos
I loved the Virgin Atlantic campaign ‘See the world differently’. It took a stand on diversity and inclusion without being worthy or oppositional.  Instead, it was on brand, fun and uplifting all while reminding us that we were now free to go back to exploring the world no matter who we are. And I’m not the only one who felt the same way, it was one of the highest performing ads in our database this year.

Peter Totman, head of qualitative, Jigsaw
British Airways ‘A British Original’ campaign (by Uncommon) celebrating the million reasons why people travel was elegantly simple, subtle, confident and restrained – in stark contrast to rival Virgin’s sumptuousness … the differences in the two campaigns says much about the differences between the two customer types. Team BA here!

James Endersby, chief executive, Opinium
It’s not a campaign per se, but this made me think about Patagonia owners’ announcement that they are going to give the brand away to support the climate. While a lot of brands talk about purpose and change, we are all a bit cynical about it these days and people are increasingly expecting them to put their money where their mouth is. This feels like the ultimate expression of that.

The Sandy Hook Promise ‘Back-to-School Essentials’ campaign won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. Based on insights around the discrepancy of adult’s perception of the school experience and the reality that students are living every day, it drove massive results for a crucial cause.

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
A campaign I actively disliked and still thought was brilliant despite, or even because of its phoniness, was Brewdog’s World Cup campaign.  Cleverly, and from what I can see totally cynically, appropriating concerns about Qatar as world cup hosts to jokingly half-pretend it cares and promote itself as ‘anti-sponsor’. So wrong, so vacuous, so good at raising salience.  

Ben Shimshon, co-founder and managing partner, BritainThinks
The German government’s ‘80 million together’ energy-saving campaign (screengrab pictured) – it’s rare that communications alone can change behaviour, but this campaign is reckoned to have decreased gas consumption by an impressive c.37% in just a few months in order to reduce dependency on Russian energy sources.

Amy Cashman, executive managing director of the UK insights division, Kantar
We’ve seen some real strides forward on the diversity and inclusion of campaigns in 2022. The digital out of home work Tesco did during Ramadan where dishes filled up with food as the sun set, signalling the hours that people were able to break their fast was a good example. We also saw this in the new campaign from Virgin Atlantic where the airline updated that it was dropping the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ from its two uniform options, meaning LGBTQ+ colleagues would be free to choose whichever uniform suited them best. We were proud to be involved in this campaign at the development stages.

Ryan Howard, marketing science consultant
If you were on the lookout for genuine imagination that conveyed a meaningful and relevant brand building story, then you found B&Q ‘Flip’. Save for blockbuster Christmas fare, seldom is advertising warm, intelligent, and rewatchable. Not a second went spare as Uncommon layered in so many cues of personal power and change, that semioticians were left giddy for breath. Complimented by a clean and bold outdoor campaign, it surely remains the envy of the competition, whom trolled the same ground for so long without nailing the emotion and empathy.

Frederic Charles-Petit, chief executive, Toluna
The Salesforce Super Bowl ad, which focused on reality rather than just the Metaverse, and the BMW ad where Zeus drove an electric car to promote the power of electricity and BMW’s electric vehicles, both connect with the viewer emotionally and are fun at the same time.