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our top 5 pr campaigns of 2021

Written by Laura
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Though never-ending lockdowns tried to cast a melancholy spell over the nation last year, many brands took it upon themselves to inject some fun into 2021 with uplifting and light-hearted digital PR campaigns. We saw many campaigns spark feelings of humour, togetherness and nostalgia when we needed it most. After much deliberation, we have compiled our top 5 digital PR campaigns from 2021, with our winner revealed at the very end. Let’s get stuck in!

  1. Carlsberg – Adopt a Keg 

Kicking off our favourite PR campaigns of 2021 is a collective favourite product of ours: beer. During a time of hospitality restrictions that was marked by the nation building DIY garden pub sheds, beer producer Carlsberg was quick to devise a stunning marketing campaign that put a twist on home drinking. 

The Adopt-A-Keg campaign involved customers scanning store-bought Carlsberg products with their smartphones which would reveal a virtual keg being filled. It wasn’t just this quirky touch that made this PR campaign such a hit. After purchasing four cans of Carlsberg, customers received ‘credit’ which could be redeemed for two free pub-bought beers to celebrate the forthcoming reopening of the hospitality industry. Whether it was the charming virtual keg or the enticement of free beer, this campaign immediately generated huge in-store sales and improved the brand’s long term reputation.

2. IKEA – Stay Home 

With lockdowns becoming a norm across the globe last year, IKEA launched a campaign that celebrated the sanctuary our homes offer. This campaign took us on a tour through the special times we’ve had in our homes that are forever etched into our hearts. Throughout the campaign we see our home talk to us in a first person narrative, with the personification of our home evoking strong feelings of appreciation for our beloved abodes. This campaign is the epitome of nostalgia and definitely tugs at our heart strings. This, combined with the timing of the campaign – when we longed for support and comfort – makes this one of our favourite PR campaigns of 2021. 

3. KFC – It’s *** Good

The renowned ‘it’s finger lickin’ good’ KFC tagline is one that doesn’t translate so well in the midst of a health-focused pandemic where licking fingers and double dipping is definitely off the menu. Luckily, the marketing team at KFC were quick to act and pulled off what could be described as one of the simplest and most effective PR strategies of 2021. Temporarily removing the ‘finger lickin’ part of their slogan worked well in promoting personal hygiene throughout the pandemic, whilst remaining fun and on brand. The promptness, simplicity and relevance of this campaign makes it one to be remembered from 2021. Who knew removing two words from a tagline could be so effective? If only every PR campaign was so simple! 

4. Weetabix – Weetabix ‘n’ Beans 

Beans on ‘bix for breakfast! When Weetabix launched this campaign with a simple, yet very effective tweet, they sparked the debate we didn’t realise we needed. 

With over 131.3K likes and 68.8K quote tweets, this campaign went viral instantaneously. This campaign attracted a phenomenal amount of attention from brands across the world – anyone who’s anyone was tweeting Weetabix on the 10th February. Not only did this campaign take off on social media, but it also gained television coverage too. From Piers Morgan trying the delicacy on Good Morning Britain, to BBC News broadcasting the dish being debated in the House of Commons, we couldn’t escape this questionable culinary concoction! This campaign came at a time when the nation was craving a light-hearted topic to discuss and we all definitely jumped at the opportunity. The cleverness and debate-ability of this campaign, along with it’s huge success, is why it makes it into position two of our favourite PR campaigns of 2021. 

5. Aldi – #FreeCuthbert

Meet Cuthbert – the culprit we weren’t expecting to fall in love with so much! This campaign was launched following legal action from M&S, who alleged Aldi’s Cuthbert cake bore an uncanny resemblance to M&S’s famous Colin the Caterpillar cake. 

The campaign kicked off with a simple tweet from Aldi referencing M&S’s tagline and quickly enticed an array of brands to join the conversation. Aldi is consistently very vocal on Twitter and are renowned for their colloquial and conversational tone when responding to customer complaints and online debates, so this reaction was very on brand for them.

A string of humorous tweets were posted by Aldi throughout this campaign which added to the light-hearted debate taking Twitter by storm and even gained coverage for Cuthbert on BBC News. After phenomenal online interest by the nation, Aldi even changed their packaging, taking this digital campaign onto store shelves. We can only appreciate how the prompt and witty responses throughout this campaign successfully deflected M&S court proceedings – who knows if Cuthbert is a free caterpillar? This campaign is crisis management at it’s best, with Aldi spinning what could have been a big PR issue into a light-hearted, award-winning campaign. This is why we are taking the brilliant tactics and strategies used in this campaign into 2022 and crowning the #FreeCuthbert campaign as our favourite PR campaign of 2021.

Onwards to 2022

A common theme from our favourite PR campaigns of 2021 is the sheer wit and humour used throughout. Collectively, brands took humour to the next level in 2021 which was definitely much needed and appreciated during a time of national lockdowns and restrictions. The effectiveness of social media was also highlighted throughout 2021, with many brands communicating to the world, and each other, in light-hearted conversations on social platforms. We can’t wait to see what the world of marketing brings to the table this year! 

It would of course be biased of us to crown ourselves the winners of 2021’s best PR campaign – we’ll leave that to you instead. Check out the fab PR campaigns we worked on in 2021 by following us on Instagram and browsing our case studies.

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