Four of the Best Marketing Campaigns of 2018

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In 2018, marketing really hit some serious highs. The brands that stood out came up with disruptive and bold campaigns that got everyone talking, a rare feat in today’s world. 

There were dozens of campaigns that got people talking, not only across the country but across the globe. And all those conversations made an impact on the bottom line. While it was hard to choose the best marketing campaigns of the year, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorites. 

These four marketing campaigns each captured something that made waves in 2018. 

IHOP changes its name


In June, IHOP set Twitter aflame when it announced it was changing its name from the International House of Pancakes to the International House of…Burgers? 

While the stunt, which was developed to announce a new line of burgers, got some mixed reviews from marketing pros, when it comes to the bottom line there is no doubt that it was a success. Burger sales quadruped after the announcement.

The lesson for this one is simple: be bold. IHOP got some backlash, but their marketing team planned this stunt with disruption in mind. And when it’s hard to get the attention of the internet for more than a few seconds, IHOP had people talking for weeks. 

Nike goes all in on Kaepernick

The issue around NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem is one that many brands have wanted to avoid ever since former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling in 2016. 

While Kaepernick has not played again in the NFL, the conversation around kneeling has continued. In September, Nike decided to embrace controversy and make Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. 


The ad exploded online. It has over 27 million views on YouTube. And immediately after the campaign was announced, Nike saw its sales jump 31% over the same period last year. 

Once again, Nike took a gamble in choosing a side on a controversial subject counting on its customers to take the leap with them. It knows its customers and relied on the values of the brand lining up with the values of the people who love Nike products. 

Thus far, it looks like Nike came out on top. 

Tesla launches car into space

If you ever want to know how valuable a livestream could be, look no further than Tesla. In 2018, Elon Musk, founder of both Tesla and SpaceX, launched his own roadster into space sitting on top of his Falcon Heavy Rocket. 

Their cross-promotional partnership with SpaceX got 2.3 million concurrent views on YouTube alone, pretty remarkable for a company that claims it has a $0 marketing budget. 


While the ‘real’ news was focused around the remarkable success of the Falcon Heavy Rocket, something that will improve both public and private space travel, it was watching a car float around in space that got a collective “cool!” from millions around the globe. 

Where Tesla shines is being able to leverage live streams and social media to get people talking. 

Tesla was able to get more people interested and talking about their brand with a livestream compared to the millions other car companies spend each year on Super Bowl commercials. Looks like all they will have to do is start building rockets?

Marvel puts Deadpool 2 everywhere

On a $100 million production budget, Marvel’s Deadpool 2 hit it out of the park, seeing almost $740 in worldwide box office returns in 2018.

Beyond the legions of comic book fans who flock to anything Marvel puts out there, Marvel went for it with a marketing blitz that embraced the mantra of too much is never enough.  


From late 2017 until the movie release in May, you couldn’t look anywhere online without seeing something about Deadpool 2. 

There were Deadpool 2 coloring books, tequila, music videos with Celine Dion, a protest video (on behalf of star Ryan Reynold’s home country Canada) demanding Eurovision entry, and more. 

The lesson that Marvel showed with its Deadpool 2 rollout is that when it comes to this movie, it’s in on the joke. Marvel understands that Deadpool fans love the fun and quirky part of the character and leaned all the way in on it. 

In 2019, be bold

If there was one lesson to learn from 2018, it was the brands that took a risk and deeply understood its customer base won. 

So even if you are a small business with a modest marketing budget, you can learn these lessons to help promote your brand in 2019 and beyond.