Every year the Contagious team reviews thousands of campaigns in search of the best examples of commercial creativity from around the world. This list represents the best of the best – the 25 most innovative, effective and attention-grabbing campaigns that we encountered in 2021.
House of Lapland / Save Salla / Africa, São Paulo /
Earlier this year, the most mentioned city on Twitter for three weeks running was Salla, Finland. The minus-20-degree-celsius winter wonderland was earning this attention for its controversial bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games. What people didn’t initially know is that the bid was a hoax to raise awareness about the severe effects climate change is already having close to the arctic circle.
Despite this bid seeming utter lunacy, people were bamboozled because the tourism board House of Lapland complied with all of the International Olympic Committee’s rules for a legitimate entry, creating a mascot, uniforms, a logo and even a 220-page bid book. It wasn’t until after a press conference with the town’s mayor that the board came clean, transforming Salla 2032 into Save Salla and increasing social conversations on climate change by 879%. If there was a medal awarded for climate change awareness, Save Salla would take home the gold.
Learn more about this campaign at Most Contagious.
Balenciaga / The Simpsons /
Paris Fashion Week is awash with glitz and glamour, yet Balenciaga grabbed all the attention at the event with a surprise 10-minute episode of The Simpsons, which culminates in various Springfield misfits hitting the catwalk.
The short could so easily have been a bit naff – it’s a long time since peak Simpsons – but it works because it’s a lovingly made mix of luxury and laughs. Its unveiling also speaks to the brand’s universal appeal: a year in the making, the film was released without fanfare on Balenciaga’s social media channels the same day it premiered in Paris.
Funny, self-deprecating and surprising enough that it was all anyone could talk about, the tie-up typifies Balenciaga’s playful approach to luxury – and, when it came to choosing this list, pipped the brand’s Fornite collaboration to the post.
Vienna Tourist Board / Vienna Laid Bare /
The Vienna Tourist Board’s decision to create an OnlyFans account to display the city’s risqué artworks was a marketing masterstroke disguised as a fit of pique.
The tourist board began posting images of nude paintings on the subscription media platform to protest the overzealous censorship that left Viennese museums and galleries unable to share some of their greatest works on mainstream social media, like Facebook and TikTok.
It was the perfect marriage of message and medium, and OnlyFans had just been all over the news for threatening to ban explicit content from its platform, which all but guaranteed the stunt would pay for itself in earned media coverage. Not that there was any reason it had to cost the tourist board a bean. Who knows, it may have even earned a nice little bit of tip money from posting some of the city’s more Rubenesque masterpieces.
Kiyan Prince Foundation / Long Live the Prince, Engine Creative, London /
Few campaigns break through the ad industry bubble like Long Live the Prince, a pro bono initiative by London agency Engine Creative for the Kiyan Prince Foundation. Prince played for Queens Park Rangers (QPR) youth football team and was fatally stabbed in 2006 when he was 15 years old. His father, Dr Mark Prince OBE, started the foundation in Kiyan’s name to instil a positive mindset in kids, to lead them away from knife crime and help them to achieve their potential.
And that’s what this campaign does. On the 15th anniversary of his death in May, EA Sports Fifa brought a 30-year-old Prince (the age he would be today) to life as a player in the football video game using ageing-projection software. The accompanying out-of-home and social media campaign, fronted by the virtual Kiyan and supported by top footballers and influencers, imparted Prince’s story to a new generation.
Learn more about this campaign at Most Contagious.
Chevrolet / Lost Roads, Commonwealth/McCann Colombia /
Even when they’re trying to sell freedom, a lot of car ads seem imprisoned by the same glossy idea of the open road. Usually in a desert. Chevrolet bust an SUV-sized hole through the cliché and told a meaningful story along the way. The terrain the automotive brand dared negotiate was decidedly rocky: Colombia’s civil conflict with The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as the Farc) and its history of violence in the Caquetá region that had left it a no-go area. The Lost Roads documentary unlocked the little-seen lush natural habits of the Caquetá region and tapped into human interest stories of former guerrillas, who were retrained as local guides as part of the project. Partnering with Discovery Channel ensured the branded film’s high-end credentials, airing in April across 14 Latin American countries and ultimately reaching 23 million people.
Most Contagious 2021: Get Your Passes /
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