2020 was one heck of a year, but it didn’t dwindle the spirits of creatives across the world. Despite some very turbulent times, there was still a plethora of commendable PR campaigns to come out of last year, and I tried my hardest to record my favourites. Unfortunately, my ‘creative campaign’ roundups only reached 17 last year, I will try for more this year if time permits. This doesn’t mean there were just 17 great PR campaigns of 2020, in truth there were hundreds. I’m always impressed by the innovation and originality of the PR industry, and the resilience we have even during tough periods. There was some great work to come out of the last year, all things considered, and here’s my top picks. Read on for my best PR campaigns of 2020.
17 Best PR Campaigns Of 2020
This list is by no means exhaustive, and is entirely subjective. What one person loves, another might not. So please let me know if you think any other PR campaigns deserve a mention, I’d love to champion as many as I can. For now, though, here’s the ones I sat down to write about last year – meaning they definitely caught my attention if nothing else.
#1 – Build Your Own Baby Yoda
Kicking off 2020’s top PR campaigns was when Build-A-Bear announced you could create your very own baby Yoda. It’s thanks to the brand’s quick-off-the-mark reactive thinking and original products that they are still trading well in 2021, and I loved this campaign for that very reason.
#2 – Mr. Rofe’s ‘Date Mark’ Billboard
If you don’t follow Mark Rofe already, you ought to. He has a brilliantly creative mind and I knew as soon as he put his face on a billboard asking people to date him, that it was one of the campaigns of the year. You can read more about that here, and follow Mark on Twitter here to find out if he ever did end up taking Maya Jama on a date.
#3 – Buy Your Own Big Mac Sauce
Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most effective. McDonalds captured the essence of that when they bottled up Big Mac sauce and put it on sale. Rightly so, this stunt got a tonne of media attention and proved that a strong brand reputation is key to being a market leader.
#4 – KFC Gets Involved In Some Weird Collabs
Us humans fascinated by weirdness, which is why when KFC partnered up with Crocs – we went mental for it. In the same way that the supermarket branded sneakers were a sell out this year too. Around the time of Valentine’s Day, KFC joined up with Moonpig, Crocs and even Pizza Hut for some eye catching brand partnerships that earned them a lot of media attention.
#5 – Radio 1 Loses Greg James
Perhaps not the most mind blowing, but I did enjoy it when Radio 1 ‘lost’ Greg James earlier this year after a night at the Brits. They pranked their listeners into thinking the breakfast show host was MIA, which got a lot of people talking on social media. It was quirky and original, which is why I loved it at the time.
#6 – Tesco Diversify Their Plaster Range
It was about ‘bloody’ time that we saw some realistic skin tones on plasters rolled out nationwide, and Tesco were one of the first to provide. What I especially liked about the launch of inclusive plaster range was that they were very matter-of-fact and didn’t virtue signal as other brands might have.
#7 – Grenade Launched A Protein Easter Egg
I love Grenade mostly because their consistent branding and tone of voice is always spot on. When they launched a protein easter egg this year, that was no exception and stellar marketing was once again at play.
#8 – Netflix Spoilers Encourage You To ‘Stay The F*ck Home’
Though this campaign wasn’t run by Netflix (oh how I wish it was), I LOVED the efforts of Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo of the Miami Ad School Europe in Hamburg, Germany. Earlier this year, they plastered popular TV show spoilers on billboards to encourage you to stay home during the height of the first wave of Covid-19. OOH marketing still works, and the global coverage of this campaign of the time is testament to that more than ever.
#9 – Chester Zoo Goes Virtual
We’ve seen a lot of great pivots this year, but one of the first and most prominent was seen by Chester Zoo, who brought the zoo to us at home during times of homeschooling. The live streams were viewed by millions and all of this worked towards raising a tremendous amount for the organisation as part of the #SaveOurZoo campaign.
#10 – Brewdog Lends A Hand
Brewdog is a brand that really knows how to get people talking. Recently they made headlines for offering up empty bars to the NHS as vaccination spaces, back in April they lent a hand by using their distilleries to create hand sanitiser for healthcare workers. Great community engagement will aways pay dividends in building your brand, and Brewdog prove this time and time again.
#11 – National Trust Launces #BlossomWatch
Positivity and togetherness got us through the first and second lockdown, it’ll get us through the third too. I loved when the National Trust launched their #BlossomWatch campaign in spring last year, and hope to see something similar from them in 2021 too.
#12 – Check What Nasa Hubble Saw On Your Birthay
There’s nothing like a good social media campaign, and I remember well when earlier this year everybody went crazy about sharing what significant things Nasa Hubble captured on their birthdays. Lockdown fatigue was setting in as we neared the end of April, and this was a nice little pick-me-up from Nasa.
#13 – Chester Zoo Fights Back
They certainly deserve a double mention in this blog, as Chester Zoo have really put up an honourable fight since the pandemic first began. I’ve listened to a couple of webinars now that included director of marketing Caroline Sanger-Davies and every time I’ve been so impressed by the communications strategies to come out of the zoo. Earlier this year they contributed towards a government U-turn which saw the reopening of zoos, recognising them as safe spaces. Not too long after, I was lucky enough to visit for my birthday in July.
#14 – Cath Kidston x Animal Crossing
I love every campaign that Rise at Seven puts out, but this one I was particularly fond of. With Cath Kidston, they created a number of different patterns that could be used in the Animal Crossing game, just as it was in its height of popularity during lockdown. Exceptional timing and fantastic marketing made this a truly stand out PR campaign for me in 2020.
#15 – Delete Your Competition
After a short break of writing ‘creative campaign’ blogs, I was sucked back in when a food delivery service called Food Hub promised free meals to the first 1000 people to delete competitors apps from their phone such as JustEat and Deliveroo. I love a bold and unapologetic PR campaign, and this one certainly caught my eye for being really creative.
#16 – Reuse Your Primark Bag
As we become more and more environmentally aware, I love when a PR campaign can tap in to that. Late last year, Primark caught media attention by transforming the design of their iconic paper bags so they could be reused as wrapping paper. From communication through to the product, I loved every inch of this stunt and it was definitely one of my top PR campaigns of 2020.
#17 – Free Meal Deals Up For Grabs
And finally, my last top PR campaign of 2020 was when Tesco announced free meal deals for anybody who could reply to their tweet and get 0 RTs, likes or comments. This created a frenzy on social media (even more so than all the Black Friday social media competitors did, I’d say) and got EVERYBODY tweeting about meal deals. I loved this campaign even more when I found out a few weeks ago that I was one of the winners (but I am not biased 😉).
More Great PR Campaigns Of 2020
You can also find out some more PR campaigns that we loved at The Source by heading to our blog, where each member of the team picked their favourites. Examples include Captain Tom and Burger King, so be sure to give it a read by clicking here.
And please do let me know what YOUR favourite PR campaign of 2020 was, let’s get some positiity going and champion the brands that are worth some recognition. Last year wasn’t easy for any of us, this one won’t be either, but we are marketers and we are built strong. I can’t wait to see the creativity that is channelled in 2021 too if efforts from this year lead by example.
Get involved in the conversation by commenting below or by tweeting me.