The most successful (and our favorite) ad campaigns in 2021 were story-driven. Over the course of the year, we saw more and more marketing campaigns crafting engaging stories to build visibility and relatability among audiences.
Due to our expertise and experience in design and marketing, we know the importance of both cleverness and connection in memorable ad campaigns. It’s about creating something that strikes a chord. An inspiring goal behind which your audience can — and will — rally.
Our direct connections with the wine and outdoor industries (as both consumers and marketers) have given us unique insight and perspectives. While it was difficult to narrow down our top 5 campaigns of 2021, we hope you’ll find new ideas to drive your own brand storytelling in the summaries below.
#1: Fall 2021 The North Face Campaign
The North Face’s Fall 2021 campaign was intended to “honor and celebrate the memories and stories of adventures created over the brand’s more than 55-year history.” Titled “It’s More Than a Jacket,” the company launched its first-ever crowdsourced digital archive of photos and stories by adventurers themselves in order to recognize a deeper meaning and history behind every piece of well-loved gear. The North Face believes that their products are inspiring and evoke a curiosity to explore. These crowdsourced stories are meant to reveal the extent of those effects.
While involving high-profile collaborators, such as professional rock climber Conrad Anker and professional skier Ingrid Backstrom, The North Face says their campaign is “a call to explorers everywhere to honor the memories held in every piece of gear.” They’ve invited stories and images of well-loved TNF gear from their global community, and will display these stories alongside those of more famous contributors. Contributors can submit their stories via social media using the hashtag #MoreThanAJacket.
The It’s More Than a Jacket campaign also marks the launch of several new North Face jackets, if you’re eager for new gear to wear while you’re making adventurous memories.
#2: 2021 Cono Sur Wine Campaign
“No family tress. No dusty bottles. Just quality wine.”
This digital campaign for Cono Sur, the brand behind the best-selling Pinot Noir and Viognier in the UK, was created to target increasing numbers of consumers to whom sustainability specifically matters.
The stories told through the campaign ads were intended be memorable while relating true methods of sustainability from the Cono Sur vineyards, such as geese keeping insects away from the vines, and wildflower cultivation to foster biodiversity and improve soil health.
A Kantar study found that especially during the pandemic, consumers have become more conscious about environmental impact, so the timing of and story behind this campaign were perfect.
#3: 2021 Houdini Storyteller Campaign
Houdini’s iconic fleece jacket, called the “Power Houdi,” has been around for almost 20 years. Statistics show the average garment is used only 10 times before it ends up being thrown away but the Power Houdi is said to get worn 100 times more than fast fashion. The Power Houdi’s main job is to be indestructible.
The clothing we choose to wear reflects who we are, what we’ve seen, and where we’ve been. Every hole, stain, and wrinkle we acquire has a backstory. Houdini built their 2021 ad campaign by wondering what a Houdi might have seen and experienced if worn over a long period of time. What stories might a well-loved Houdi be able to tell?
Houdini called this campaign “The Storyteller,” which used the hashtag #WearYourStories to collect stories from as many customers as possible. Read stories from the perspective of the Artist Houdi, the Climber Houdi, the Sailor Houdi, and the Old Houdi.
We love Houdini’s Storyteller campaign because it’s not a gimmick. The founders really do care about sustainability, and have planned for all products to be 100% made from recycled fibers and be recyclable, renewable, and biodegradable by 2022.
#4: 2021 Find Your Wild Campaign
The second largest winery in Washington State, 14 Hands Winery, is inspired by the unbound, untamed spirit of wild horses once freely roaming the eastern part of the state. Their 2021 ad campaign reflects on their roots of being “unbound by rules or convention” (echoing their unconventional approach to winemaking) and asks their audience to join them in “Find[ing] Your Wild.”
Through three unique video spots, 14 Hands introduces a bold, new brand refresh — a look and feel that will stand out amongst the current industry advertising. The spots celebrate finding more spontaneity, boldness, and play in life, as they narrate the journeys of ordinary people finding their unexpected wild sides.
#5: 2021 Girls Will Be Girls Campaign
Kari Traa, fast-growing “For Girls by Girls” women’s sportswear company, launched its “Girls Will Be Girls” campaign to encourage throwing the traditional norms of “being a girl” out the window. Women have long experienced discrimination in the outdoor industry, and Kari Traa’s “Girls will be girls — let’s break the rules” video shows the messages that have bred such discrimination (while encouraging girls to stop listening).
The Girls Will Be Girls campaign celebrates real women in the outdoor industry who are breaking the rules traditionally associated with being a woman. Kari Traa herself, for example, was an Olympic Gold Medalist and freestyle skier. Her campaign encourages other women, from professional athletes to recreational outdoor guides, to share their own stories and help create enough momentum for change.
One of the reasons we find this campaign so powerful is because it’s not really sales-oriented. Kari Traa’s latest campaign is really about building a deeper connection between her audience and her brand, and defining a strong purpose for women worldwide. Sissel Himle, Director of Marketing in North America, says, “The World Economic Forum estimates we still have 135 years to reach gender equality on a global level. Let’s change the rules that are holding us back, and fight to decrease that gender gap exponentially.”
Inspire Your Own Storytelling
We hope you loved reading about these campaigns as much as we enjoyed finding them, and we hope they showed you how powerful a bigger story can be. You’re not just a product or a service, and your products and services deserve context so that your customers can — and actually want to — connect. The trust that’s built from connection through storytelling is invaluable.
Do you have a story? Would you like help transforming it into something even more compelling? Or do you need help finding it in the first place? If you’d like some guidance, don’t hesitate to schedule your free 30-minute call with Becca at Bauerhaus today!