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Campaigns that Broke Through the Clutter

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Between the internet, TV, billboards, and every other media channel, we are exposed to 1000s of ads every day. But how many of these advertisements can we recall at the end of each day? Only a select few break through the clutter and leave a lasting impression – the finest, the elite, the cream of the crop. While the goal of every campaign is to reach this level, only a select number hit the mark. After all, advertising isn’t quite an exact science.


In honor of these ads that are so few and far between, we’ve compiled a list of one-of-a-kind campaigns. Whether in the form of TV commercials, social media marketing, or good old-fashioned print, these campaigns have it all – from goofy sayings to creative artwork, Hollywood hotshots, and throwback commercials.


Dilly Dilly

At one point, everyone was getting in on this campaign. Hearing the now infamous “dilly dilly” became a near-daily occurrence. People were even sporting dilly dilly merchandise.


Wieden + Kennedy was the advertising agency responsible for the method behind the madness. The campaign aired as a series of TV commercials that took place in medieval times. Once the movement started to gain traction, the video production quality of these commercials took off, and they started displaying a Game of Thrones-esque vibe. At the peak of every commercial, the characters would let out a loud “Dilly Dilly!” for their Bud Light. Whether it came as a toast of beer bottles at a banquet or a war cry as they charged into battle for more of their favorite beverage. You may think that Bud Light had some intended meaning for what Dilly Dilly should mean, but that’s not the case. The creator of the idea said that it doesn’t mean anything. In fact, the iconic tagline almost didn’t exist. Bud Light’s CMO said that the campaign didn’t initially test well. However, the marketing team had faith in the idea. And it’s a good thing they did because the iconic toast became one of Bud Lights’ most successful marketing campaigns.


Even Pittsburgh legend Ben Roethlisberger got in on the action. The Steelers quarterback was heard using the catchphrase to call a “Dilly Dilly” audible during a televised game in 2017.


Absolut Vodka

Absolut Vodka was tasked with a challenging problem – marketing a product with a basic logo and bottle – the result was a straightforward yet creative campaign. Interestingly enough, this advertising campaign has roots tied to our own city of Pittsburgh through the great Andy Warhol. When the founder of Absolut, Michel Roux, was having dinner with Warhol in 1986, the artist complimented the brand’s bottle and said that he found it filled with artfulness. He then painted his own interpretation of the bottle. When he was done, Roux got the lightbulb that sparked the campaign.

For the next 25 years, the shape of the Absolut bottle was subtly yet creatively presented in photos of everyday life – including a woman carrying a stack of Christmas presents, an ancient Greek pillar in Athens, a flock of birds in Venice, and another 1,500+ variations. This marketing campaign helped propel the spirit brand into a household name. Sales in America increased from 10,000 cases in 1980 to 4.5 million in 2000.



Got Milk

I believe I speak for everyone who grew up in the early 2000s when I say that this is one of the most nostalgic and recognizable marketing campaigns of my lifetime. At one point in my life, it seemed impossible to not see the notorious milk mustache smeared across the face of our beloved athletes, musicians, and TV stars, whether in the form of posters covering our school walls, billboards on the sides of roads, or commercials during our favorite shows. And that was the gist of this entire campaign. It featured celebrities with a streak of white across their top lip, showing the viewer that they just enjoyed a nice, cold glass of milk. So simple, effective, and elegant (maybe not that last one). In total, $23 million was spent on this campaign, saving a declining dairy industry a reported $255 million. If you ask me, that’s dairy good! (Sorry for the bad pun.)



Wendy’s “where is the beef?”

One of the world’s most famous advertising slogans was born by Wendy’s in 1984. They aired a commercial that featured three elderly ladies dumbfounded by a comically small patty sitting on a massive bun – begging them to ask, “where is the beef?”. Wendy’s then tells the viewers that their patties are larger than the patties on the Whopper and Big Mac, directly calling out two of their biggest competitors. The cultural impact of this campaign was so widespread it even reached the political world. In the 1984 primaries, Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate, used the phrase to insult Ronald Reagan’s policies, saying they lacked substance.


The question on everyone’s mind was answered 27 years later in 2011 when Wendy’s aired a “Here is the Beef” commercial.


IHOb – International House of Burgers

This social media marketing campaign by IHOP was one of the wackiest (and brightest) of all time. The idea was as simple as tweeting that they will be changing their name from “IHOP” to “IHOb”. Here’s the catch – they didn’t say what the b would stand for. Mass confusion was the result of this one-letter change. I can still hear the bewilderment in my friend’s voice when it first happened – “Dude, did you see IHOP is now IHOb?” “what could the B mean???”. As questionable and confusing as this campaign may have seemed at the time, there is no doubt it was a hit. As a result of this announcement, the company generated over 32 billion earned media impressions and 20,000 news articles, creating one of the most successful social media marketing campaigns ever. And these numbers don’t account for the word-of-mouth between friends and coworkers trying to crack the code. In the end, the temporary name change was just an ingenious marketing tactic to let the world know that they were now selling burgers, making them the International House of Pancakes Burgers.