5 of the Most Contagious campaigns of 2022 

We’ve made a list, and it’s got nothing to do with being naughty or nice. These are some of most innovative and effective campaigns of the year, according to the Contagious team.

Australian Open / Art Balls 

You could expunge every Eurovision Song Contest entry from public memory and the world would be better for it – with the exception of Waterloo. Abba’s pop banger is the only song worth salvaging from an otherwise dismal genre of music, and it’s the same with the Australian Open’s Art Balls campaigns. Most attempts at incorporating NFTs into marketing either rely on novelty or vastly overestimate people’s appetite for virtual brand merchandise, but Art Balls was a cut above. The NFTs representing patches of tennis court where match-winning shots landed during the 2022 Australian Open demonstrated a clear vision of how digital sports memorabilia could have value. And allocating the plots randomly ahead of the tournament – instead of auctioning them off to the highest bidder afterwards – made the process more fair and more fun. Even if NFTs are eventually relegated to the annals of embarrassing marketing fads, at least we’ll always have Melbourne.

Vice / Unfiltered History / Dentsu Webchutney, Bengalaru 

As a rule of thumb, the campaigns that agencies pitch to brands unsolicited are judged more harshly. They’re often phenomenally creative, but the connection to the business and impact can be limited. Dentsu Webchutney’s campaign for Vice News is proof that achieving both is possible. In fact, the idea originating in India off the back of the Empires of Dirt documentary produced by Vice gives it all the more credibility and strength. Through AR lenses and podcasts that provide a different, more accurate perspective of the artefacts contained within the British Museum, the Unfiltered History Tour changes the cultural narrative and brings it into a modern age. But perhaps the most impressive aspect is the commitment, diligence and heart from both the brand and agency teams to work together to deliver a controversial idea that was thoroughly researched and thoughtfully executed.

Rejected Ales / Matilda Bay / Howatson+Company, Sydney 

It took Matilda Bay 27 attempts to create a golden ale that met its master brewer’s high standards. To dramatise its pursuit of perfection, the brand released the unsuccessful prototypes as a limited-edition beer collection called ‘Rejected Ales’.

By promoting their motley crew of runners up, Matilda Bay effectively demonstrated the relative superiority of their core product. This counter-intuitive approach generated intrigue, ultimately resulting in an 11-fold sales uplift for the brewer along with a 17% increase in the number of retailers who stocked the beer.

The campaign was notable for the manner in which it confidently eschewed the traditional craft-beer tropes. Instead of relying on wildly overblown tales of provenance, the brand opted for a boldly minimalist and radically transparent aesthetic. This disarming level of honesty cut through the beard-stroking babble, giving Matilda Bay some refreshing standout in the notoriously saturated craft beer market.

Tesco / Voice of the Checkout / BBH London 

Brands often struggle to replicate the chaotic charms of TikTok, behaving on the social media platform like a dad at a disco. They think they get it, but they really don’t. It makes Tesco’s TikTok arrival particularly noteworthy. Here, the supermarket showcased its sense of humour and platform fluency with a duet-inspired competition for people to become the voice of its self-checkouts, and it was rewarded with 1.1 million views in just 24 hours. The prize of 10,000 Clubcard points connected the competition back to the brand, too, driving awareness among a younger target market that is eager to be entertained, rather than advertised at.

Apple / 911 

At the beginning of the year, Apple made the most powerful case for its watch yet. Not that it reminds you to stand up when you’ve been sitting down for too long, or makes you look like an undercover agent when you speak into it – the message was that an Apple Watch could save your life. The 911 ad used real audio from three emergency calls made from Apple Watches. Transcripts of the calls appeared word by word against beautiful shots of landscapes; tension builds as you hear panicked calls for help from a woman trapped in a capsized car, a paddleboarder stranded at sea, and an elderly farmer who has had a serious fall.

The ad ends with the text: ‘With the help of their watch, Jason, Jim and Amanda were rescued in minutes.’ In 60 seconds, the Apple Watch goes from being a nice accessory to a life-saving device.

To find out which other campaigns we’ve named the Most Contagious of the year, download the 2022 Most Contagious Report for free by completing the form below. 

The Most Contagious Report is packed with insights and analysis, including:

  • In-depth strategy interviews with some of the brands and agencies behind the most innovative campaigns of the year
  • Advice on marketing amid a recession
  • The Contagious view on the trends that will shape the ad industry in the year ahead
  • The Economist’s deputy editor on the big macro-economic trends to watch out for in 2023
  • Summaries of academic research from 2022 that explain how advertising works and consumers behave
  • Much more...

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