In the newest issue of The Drum, we award our New Year Honours to the agencies, brands and people who have proved, throughout 2019, that marketing can change the world. Pick up a copy to see the entire list and read our reasoning, but in the meantime here's a glimpse of the brands we think made 2019 a year to remember.
No stranger to our New Year’s Honours list due to the consistent high quality of its marketing output, this year it was Guinness’s whole-hearted investment in women’s rugby (pictured top of page) that got it over the line. In the same year its iconic ‘Surfer’ ad celebrated its 20th birthday, Diageo’s Irish stout continued to push the boundaries of advertising as title sponsor and official beer of the Six Nations rugby tournament.
Five years ago, meatless burgers were a punchline. Now they’re an empire. To be fair to Linda McCartney, veggie burgers and sausages have been around for some time. But 2019 was a breakthrough for the meatless market and one company in particular has been riding the substitute gravy train – Beyond Meat, the Californian startup backed by Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio and Twitter founder Biz Stone.
In previous years when we’ve praised the marketing efforts of pastry purveyor Greggs, it has been in amused appreciation of its silliness and self-deprecation. Like that time it replaced the baby Jesus with a sausage roll. So in 2019, when it launched several vegan products and started talking about healthy diets and chief exec Roger Whiteside told about how he no longer eats meat, it was the brand turnaround none of us could have predicted.
Widely regarded as an ethical leader since its launch in 1995, Lush took things up a notch in 2019, launching a packaging-free cosmetics store where shoppers can buy its 100% vegetarian, cruelty-free cosmetics completely free of plastics, further easing its impact on the environment and helping customers choose sustainable alternatives. From solid shampoo bars to loose bath bombs, it was the first time a mass market retailer in the UK had dropped plastic completely.
Leading the charge for female-focused wellness brands this year was undoubtedly the women’s sexual wellbeing brand Dame, which first made headlines back in June after it filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority following the abrupt rejection of its ads on the New York City subway.
No stranger to controversy having come to the attention of most of us when it took New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to task in 2015, period-proof underwear company Thinx has since run ads featuring transgender men and, in its first national TV commercial which ran in October 2019, cisgender men as it asks – what if we all had periods?
As sales at the top of the UK mainstream lager category continued to dry up, Carlsberg adopted a scorched earth marketing campaign with a timeless subversion of its famous strapline that admitted that it was ‘probably not the best beer in the world’. Unlike most marketing, it can truly be called ‘brave’ in how it went about launching its new Danish Pilsner.
Known for cheeky stunts and nose-thumbing pranks, Paddy Power gatecrashed the conversation around betting brands’ ubiquitous sponsorship of football in 2019. It put its logo in enormous writing across Huddersfield Town's new kit – sparking much outrage before revealing that the new shirt would in fact be free of all branding. Managing director Victor Corcoran told the world: “Shirt sponsorship in football has gone too far."
Pantene Japan has gone to new lengths to position itself as a feel-good brand with a mission to empower women, with a viral campaign and its work with Grey Tokyo helping set the brand apart in a competitive market with flair and style.
When compiling list of top brands, Ikea is never far from the scramble, and always happy to stand-out from the crowd. The reason why in 2019 was for how sustainability and upcycling became a major component of its global marketing.
This newest issue of The Drum is out now and looks back on the best brands, marketers, media companies, agencies and organizations – as well as the finest campaigns – of 2019. And since this is our first issue of the new decade, we review some of the finest work of the last 10 years, before we turn towards the next 10.