Dove, Aldi, Weetabix: the brand campaigns that won on social in 2021

The Drum Social is a weekly column from The Drum’s reporter, and former social media executive, Amy Houston covering the latest social media trends, strategies and insights. Follow Amy @AmyCLHouston and join in the conversation #TheDrumSocial

Dove's 'Reverse Selfie' campaign sparked a huge discussion on social media

As 2021 draws to a close, The Drum’s reporter and former social media executive Amy Houston looks at the social media posts that grabbed attention this year and assesses the strategies behind them.

A strong social media marketing campaign has arguably never been more important than in the last couple of years and some organizations are nailing their online presence. From sparking debates to user-generated content that has entertained the masses, let’s recap some of the best online moments of the year.

Dove ‘Reverse Selfie’

Unilever-owned Dove had the entire internet talking in April with its hard-hitting campaign about the damage to self-esteem that beauty filters can cause young women and girls.

According to the brand, 80% of girls will have a distorted view of the way they look online by aged 13 leading Dove to tackle the issue of real beauty standards in the digital era.

‘Stop scrolling’ was the direct call to action on the brand’s Instagram post which feels fitting as the photo-sharing platform is arguable the biggest hotbed for projecting unrealistic beauty and lifestyle standards.

Noting the comments on this video you can see how much the conversation meant to people and how relatable it was. It's a great example of a well thought out campaign taking on a huge modern-day topic.

Aldi '#FreeCuthbert'

Who can forget the #FreeCuthbert movement of 2021? UK supermarket chain Aldi schooled everyone with a lesson in reactive marketing as it ridiculed rival store M&S after it alleged that Cuthbert bore too much of a resemblance to its Colin the Caterpillar cake.

The quick-off-the-mark tweets like 'Cuthbert has been found guilty…of being delicious' had the nation, and mainstream media, engaged. Reactive social media marketing tactics can most definitely pack a punch when done well and can help to build a strong brand presence online.

McCann Manchester, the team behind the now-infamous tweets, quickly established the mood of the British people and played into the absurdity of the situation - which ensured a win in the court of public opinion.

Weetabix ‘n’ Beanz

It was one of the most obscure social media posts of the year but one that made waves on and offline. Breakfast food Weetabix challenged London-based agency Frank to showcase the brand's versatility with a small budget of just £5k.

Building on the 'Weetabix ‘n’ tingz’ trend that was gaining some traction online, Frank decided to throw the rulebook out the window and cover some Weetabix in Heinz Baked Beans. The reactions that ensued were nothing short of hilarious.

Jumping onto social media bandwagons doesn't always pay off, but the gamble worked a treat for Weetabix which gained 20,000 new social followers, and six million organic engagements which was a great example of a low-budget, highly effective project.

Specsavers Euro 2020

Specsavers celebrated England's progress in the Euros this Summer with a campaign centered around the catchphrase ‘It’s coming home’. The billboard, mimicked the style of eyecharts found in branches of the opticians, and was created by Tangerine Communications.

This campaign is a brilliant example of harnessing a moment in time but putting a brand's recognizable stamp on it. It works because Specsavers knows its audience well and had conviction in the approach.

Being confident and consistent is key to not losing momentum on social media. Thinking outside of the box and not shying away from different approaches to is something that Specsavers really highlighted with its reactive tactics this year.

Reddit Super Bowl

Across the pond, Reddit ’hacked the system’ during the Super Bowl with a brief five-second commercial. It was a moment that completely dominated the conversation and really put the true value of passionate social media communities to the forefront.

It was an underdog moment that stopped people in their tracks and hauled in a 98% positive social sentiment rate, drove over 90,000 user mentions, became the number one searched ad of Super Bowl Sunday on Google and garnered coverage from 140+ unique media outlets, all leading to a staggering 6.5bn+ earned impressions.

Taking inspiration from your social media community is a no-brainer, they are the ones engaging with your product and know the culture better than most, which is exactly why Reddit's campaign paid off.

What was your favorite social media moment of 2021? Join in the conversation using #TheDrumSocial and don't forget to check out all the winners of The Drum Awards for Social Media 2021.