Blog: 6 Breakthrough Hashtag-Driven Ad Campaigns

Take a look at six brand marketing campaigns that use hashtags in a particularly clever way...

These days it can seem like a herculean task to break through consumers’ cynicism and get your brand’s message heard above all the noise. So we figured we’d try to see what set apart the campaigns that succeed.

Six campaigns stood out; we found that each had taken their marketing to an entirely different level by turning their ads into a call-to-action, and using it to fuel conversation across social. All with the power of a simple hashtag.

By either creating their own initiative-specific hashtag, or jumping on a relevant trending hashtag, successful brands drove engagement by encouraging conversation back from their audience — resulting in instant promotion of their brand and exposure to new devotees. Not all brands and businesses get this marketing tactic right, but the ones that do are still talked about, not only as brilliant marketing campaigns but as contributions to the human experience in the digital age. That kind of brand promotion is priceless.


Turning a Product into Personal Expression: Coca Cola’s #shareacoke

Marketers at Coca-Cola in Australia, wanting to connect with young adults, started this campaign. By using 150 of the most popular names in Australia a can or bottle of coke was suddenly a personal item, an accessory, and a form of self-expression. Coca-Cola was speaking directly to the individual. Coca-Cola took a step further and invited and encouraged fans to share their Coca-Cola stories online. The idea took off and was a huge success. The catchy, call to action of #shareacoke created an online community of people not only sharing a coke but of their sharing their own stories. Over 500,000 photos were shared using #shareacoke, fans created over 6 million virtual Coke bottles, and Coke gained 25 million additional social media followers. That isn’t just success — that is a marketing boon. The campaign was rolled out globally, and the rest is history!

Tip: You can learn more about the campaign from the marketers involved at Coca-Cola in an extensive interview published by the company themselves, which is available here.


Giving Women a Voice: L’Oréal Paris #worthsaying

A long-time promoter of strong feminist values and sponsors of the Golden Globes, L’Oréal Paris wanted to reach out and connect with women and have women connect with other women. This lavish event, in so many ways about superficial beauty, was the perfect place to change the conversation women have about beauty. The #worthsaying campaign created a deeper message and conversation beyond advertising. The fact that all women have something valuable to contribute to the ongoing discussion resonated with fans, celebrities, and the media. L’oreal Paris gained 1 billion social media interaction and doubled their social media following in only a week, and the hashtag is still inspiring women to contribute.


Discount Pizza Frenzy: Dominos #letsdolunch

A one day only Twitter campaign, Dominoes generated free advertising and a boost in popularity and followers by enticing customers to add #letsdolunch after every tweet. Each tweet reduced the price of a pepperoni passion pizza by 1p. The end of the day saw 82,500 tweets, a significant increase in brand recognition and greater brand loyalty.


Travel Back in Time: Expedia #throwmeback

This campaign’s success was due, in no small way, to the use of the fourth most popular hashtag, #tbt (ThrowbackThursday) on Instagram, where users post old photos of themselves or experiences. Expedia encouraged users to post photos of past holidays with #tbt @expedia and #throwmeback. Each week Expedia would select a winner. The winner was offered a voucher to revisit the place in the photo and recreate the picture. Expedia’s #throwmeback campaign won a Shorty Award and doubled Expedia’s Instagram following.


A Twist on Game Time Advertising: Esurance #esurancesweepstakes

In this brilliant use of real-time strategy, Esurance stole the super bowl without airing a game time commercial. #esurancesweepstakes was part of the wider “Pass it on” campaign showing that Esurance passed on the savings. An entirely twitter based approach, users had to use #esurancesweepstakes in their own tweet or retweet an esurance tweet to enter the sweepstakes. One commercial was aired right before the game and one right after and featured Deadpool with the voice over of Ryan Reynolds. The hashtag was the most popular of the Super Bowl, had 2.5 million mentions, and 1.5 billion impressions. Esurance made insurance a hot topic in the most sought after advertising time.


Security Cameras Tapping into Trends: Nest Cam #caughtonNestcam

Like insurance, security cameras are hardly exciting. That is until Nest came up with #caughtonnestcam. This call to action hashtag encourages current owners of the Nest Cam to upload and share videos captured from their 24/7 live streaming security devices. The result: More than 1.2 million videos on youtube, 3.1 million views on Facebook, and more than 1.2K shares on Facebook and Twitter. That is a lot of people suddenly talking about a security camera. Nest, through #caughtonNestcam, saw a huge boost in brand awareness by creating a community around videos.