Who will become Brand of the Year 2022? Nominees revealed

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By Dani Gibson | Senior Writer

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ab inbev article

June 13, 2022 | 14 min read

It’s almost time to crown Brand of the Year, a new category at The Drum Awards for Marketing. The shortlisted brands were voted for by The Drum’s readers and industry judges as their leading brand in the world of marketing.

We provided the audience with a list of The Drum’s World Creative Rankings 2021 Top 20 award-winning brands for the whole of the year – an extensive piece of research tracking the performance of thousands of pieces of creative work across 21 global awards schemes examining 2,472 campaigns from 1,657 clients working with 1,220 agencies.

The audience then ranked their top three brands that they felt deserved the accolade and explained why they chose their top brand. We then looked to The Drum Judges’ Club, a community of awards judges alumni, to make the final decision.

With just under a week until the big reveal, here is the shortlist of 20 brands that have impressed, wowed and performed at the top of their game over the past year.

AB InBev

abinbev2022

The multinational brewer behind Budweiser and Stella Artois, AB InBev enjoyed a good year, with many of its brands taking home multiple gongs across various campaigns including ‘The Future Official Sponsors,’ ‘Contract for Change,’ ‘The Match of Ages,’ ‘Victoria 1.8,’ ‘Cold Tracker,’ ‘The Beer Cap Project’ and ‘Messi 644.’

More recently, as the official beer partner of the O2, Budweiser supplied Ukrainian beer brand Chernigivske at the venue’s London arena to support humanitarian relief efforts in the ongoing conflict against Russia. It also took on the initiative of fueling bars, stadiums and other venues with a global renewable electricity program.

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Apple

In 2019, Apple presented ‘Bounce,’ a campaign shot in black and white that was designed to bring the flexibility of AirPods with wireless charging to life. The ad ranked in The Drum’s World Creative Rankings 2022 as one of the top 200 campaigns.

This month, the global tech brand unveiled a clever new spin on its famed ‘Silhouettes’ campaign, featuring Harry Styles and spotlighting AirPods with Spatial Audio. We also saw Apple’s ‘Data Auction’ doubling down on its iPhone privacy controls with an ad showing off features that can help keep your personal data safer, and in a continuation of its ‘Apple at Work’ series the underdogs were brought back to escape the clutches of their demanding boss Vivienne – and, of course, serve as a showcase of how useful Apple devices can be to businesses big or small.

Burger King

Burger King has been known to cause a few differences in opinions over the years. However, campaigns such as ‘Moldy Whopper,’ ‘Stevenage Challenge,’ Confusing Times,’ ‘Your Way, Way Better,’ ‘Day 28/32/33/35’ and ‘BK Cows Menu Music Video’ all contributed to the brand ranking high in The Drum’s World Creative Rankings 2022.

The latest campaign, ‘Whopper to a Flame,’ sees flying Whopper burgers hurtling into people’s fire pits. The spot launched its first two films in June, with the third and final one rolling out later this year.

From the fast food chain’s Mexican offices, a series of black-and-white photographs highlighted its pivot to a ‘cleaner’ menu with the absence of preservatives. Over in Germany, Burger King played its part to meet the unconventional craving needs of expectant mums ahead of Mother’s Day by adding some interesting fillings to its popular burger.

Change the Ref

Change the Ref, which uses urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of mass shootings, has created powerful thought-provoking messages over the past couple of years.

‘The Unfinished Votes’ and ‘The Lost Class’ stand as a testament to its efforts in empowering future leaders of the US to make changes that will affect their nation.

In 2021, 3,044 young people didn’t have the opportunity to graduate from high school because they were killed by a gun. ‘The Lost Class’ became a viral conversation following the campaign’s use of an image of an empty field with a ‘Class of 2021’ banner and thousands of seats that would never be filled.

Diesel

Diesel released ‘Francesca’ ahead of Pride month 2020 to promote social inclusion. Directed by Francois Rousselet, the short film features a young woman who was assigned male at birth transition through her life as she achieves her ultimate dreams.

For its FW19 collection launch, Diesel embraced the social faux pax of ‘wardrobing,’ where you buy, wear and return clothes for a full refund. The tongue-in-cheek campaign encouraged people to enjoy their purchases before returning them, turning the act into something normal. It showed you how to master this in a 60-second spot.

Essity

Essity and Bodyform aren’t afraid to go where other brands won’t, with ‘Blood Normal’ and ‘Viva La Vulva’ among their most memorable ads.

Portraying the real story behind periods, Essity released #wombstories with director, writer and producer Nisha Ganatra and six female animators to demolish assumptions of women’s biological timelines.

Covering IVF treatment, endometriosis cramps, menopausal hot flushes, nipple hairs and first periods, the campaign gave a voice to the unspeakable truths of the physical experiences of women everywhere.

Ikea

Along with some strong award-winning work from Ikea Dubai and a collaboration with Pizza Hut in Hong Kong, the Swedish brand has stood strong over the past few years.

This spring, the brand joined up with WWF Denmark to raise awareness of biodiversity and the lack of wild habitats for endangered insects. Bringing to life a new version of the furniture chain’s iconic meatball snack made out of soil, clay and wildflower seeds, the duo encouraged customers to take the ‘Swedish Seedballs’ home and throw them in their gardens.

Mastercard

In 2019, ‘True Name’ let Mastercard cardholders use their true first name on their card without requiring a legal name change, supporting transgender and nonbinary communities across the globe. Last year, collaborating with Waze, Mastercard launched ‘Roadside Market,’ aiding Romanian roadside vendors in transforming their businesses by reinventing the market and bringing local producers into the digital economy.

McDonald’s

McDonalds

‘We Deliver,’ ‘McDo’ and ‘McDonald’s Three Fries’ are certainly adding to the trophy shelf for McDonalds. More recently, however, campaigns such as ‘Happy Moments’ show off the fast food chain’s knack for reaching out to both parents and children by celebrating the bonds that can develop over a shared meal. The new print campaign in the Philippines was launched in the run-up to Father’s Day and showcased fathers and their children in fancy dress bonding over the classic children’s meal.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s Norway took ownership of fast-food littering with an honest campaign depicting the ugly side of its wrappers. The work was amplified with out-of-home (OOH) print ads, as well as a social media push including a mock-up of a polished promotional McDonald’s Instagram feed being replaced with images of trash.

Nike

2020 grounded the world, but Nike made sure that after a lengthy hiatus, the NBA came back with a bang. The third film of the brand’s ’You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign featured a split-screen seamlessly illustrating the parallels between sports with famous faces including Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and Kylian Mbappé.

More recently, to mark its 50th anniversary, the sportswear giant enlisted the help of Spike Lee to direct and star alongside Indigo Hubbard-Salk in its latest ad, which asked viewers: ‘Think you’ve seen it all?’ – indicating that there’s so much more to come.

The sports apparel brand has also been one of the many that are making themselves known in the metaverse, with activations such as Nikeland aiding in proving the high commercial gain for branded experiences in virtual environments.

Oreo

In its efforts to continue supporting the LGBTQ+ community as a ‘lifelong ally’ and encouraging others to do the same, Oreo recently released a touching film by famed indie director Alice Wu.

The biscuit brand is also continuing its partnership with PFLAG (parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays), and will be donating $500,000 to help the company provide support, education and advocacy to LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies.

Earlier this year Oreo also collaborated with DC legend Batman in a breathtaking OOH 3D activation in the UK, as well as forming a partnership with Digital Cinema Media (DCM) to furnish cinemagoers with a Gotham City-inspired cookie experience.

Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble (P&G) continued the conversation on racial bias by releasing a follow-up to its Emmy award-winning film ‘The Talk.’ ‘The Look’ endeavored to break more ground in the fight against racial bias, homing in on what it is to be a Black man and the looks and stares they endure every day because of the color of their skin.

On another note, in 2020 the NFL banned the jersey swap, a beloved tradition, due to Covid-19. Tide saw a solution with its latest product, Tide Hygienic Clean, and so came the Clean Jersey Swap. The program saw over 1,400 players sign up for the swap, posting their swapped jerseys online, and thus making every post a shout-out to Tide Hygienic Clean.

Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders defends the freedom to have access to free and reliable information. In 2020, the organization created a loophole to overcome censorship by building a safe haven for press freedom in Minecraft.

Free information is hard to access in many countries, and young people grow up in systems with almost no access to independent press. However, Minecraft is a firm favorite video game, with over 145 million active players every month, and the perfect place for users in countries such as Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam to access strictly limited websites, blogs and free press.

Royal Australian Mint

donation dollar

The Royal Australian Mint is the sole producer of all of Australia’s circulating coins. The Donation Dollar campaign saw more than 25m new dollar coins minted and sent out to the public. However, rather than for spending, these shiny new coins were designed to be donated as a response to the decline in using physical currency, leaving those who rely on cash donations, such as charities or homeless people, at a disadvantage.

Samsung

In the past year, Samsung launched a partnership with the National Gallery Singapore to showcase artworks from the museum to people at home; a campaign in the metaverse to allow people to win a Galaxy S22 smartphone; and a collaboration with the British Fashion Council and Charles Jeffrey to create a film shot entirely at night.

One of its largest activation was Tiger in the City, an OOH campaign deployed on curved screens across the globe featuring a tiger bursting through.

Spinneys and the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation

Middle Eastern supermarket chain Spinneys and the Lebanese Cancer Foundation joined forces to encourage Lebanese women to self-examine. Tradition prevents Lebanese women from talking openly about their bodies, so to respect their heritage a video was created with a traditional Lebanese baker, Um Ali, demonstrating the steps of a breast self-exam through a ‘bread exam.’ Ali’s gestures of kneading and pressing dough gave no mention of breasts, allowing such an intimate subject to be an acceptable, everyday experience.

The City of Chicago

‘Boards of Change’ from the City of Chiago brought America’s defenceless voices off the streets and into polling booths. Wooden boards that blockaded shop doors during Black Lives Matter protests were turned into voting booths and inspired residents of Chicago’s lowest turnout neighborhoods to create systemic change by allowing them to register and vote.

The New York Times

Independent Journalism for an Independent Life’ is The New York Times’ latest video series, which takes a look at the lives of its readers to showcase the breadth of its journalism and the uniqueness of those who subscribe to it. Following five NYT readers – Jordan, Becky, Yassmin, Lianna and Vera – each demonstrated how the paper caters to their individual interests.

The series follows on from its 2020 ad ‘Life Needs Truth’, which illustrated how NYT’s journalism is part of the fabric of life and at the cutting edge of the issues of our time.

Unilever

Unilever has had an eventful year, mostly from its beauty brand Dove and its continuing sucess in demolishing harmful beauty standards. The company has also taken a stand against climate change and released ‘The Clean Edit,’ a home care initiative encourging cleaner homes for a cleaner planet. Combining nature and science, Unilever made the move to change what goes into its cleaning and laundry products, how it makes them and what it uses to package them.

On top of that, campaigns such as ‘Courage Is Beautiful,’ ‘A New Jingle For A New Era’ and ‘Degree Inclusive’ follow in the same vein, fighting for a better future.

WWF

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) continues to combat the ocean plastic problem with campaigns such as ‘Your Plastic Diet’ and ‘Eurythenes Plasticus.’ The latter film showed that issue goes far deeper than anything previously imagined. The problem is so bad that new deep-sea species are being found already contaminated by plastic, and so the WWF named a new deep-sea species after the plastic found in its body: ’Eurythenes Plasticus.’

The winner will be unveiled at The Drum Marketing Awards show on Wednesday June 15. You can either watch online or join us in person at The Drum Labs.

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