Every year, marketers fiercely compete to win the hearts and minds of consumers, pushing their client brands to the forefront of the public eye in the hopes of driving sales. Time and again, we see there is no precise formula for achieving great marketing results — but as we saw in 2023, some exemplary campaigns can provide ample inspiration for others.
Let’s look at some of the best marketing 2023 had to offer, including wide-ranging campaigns of the past year that brought results, engagement, and sales for some daring and creative brands.
The Biggest, Loudest, and Best Marketing of 2023
Making a Product More Personal: Spotify Wrapped
A viral marketing sensation now in its seventh year, Spotify Wrapped represents so many things done right about how a brand connects with an audience. The music streaming platform stands out from its competitors by championing its use of data to drive more personalized selections With Wrapped, Spotify then gets to reutilize that very data to provide a unique portrait of users’ tastes from the previous year.
Again, Spotify Wrapped proved supremely successful and popular this past year. Shared millions of times across social media at the end of 2022, the marketing gambit has become so popular that people count down to its release in anticipation each year, referencing it like the music version of McDonald’s famous recurring McRib sandwich. By finding itself in this rarified territory for a massive brand, Spotify routinely sees itself not just on “Best Marketing of 2023” lists, but best of the decade.
An Unlikely (but Powerful) Partnership: Heinz Meets Absolut
Some of the biggest marketing wins result from out-of-the-box collaborations between disparate brands that somehow, someway, land with a splash with mass audiences. Such is the case with this past year’s Heinz/Absolut product partnership, which used the combined branding power to boost Heinz’s new pasta sauce lineup to creative effect.
The net result of the partnership campaign brought hundreds of millions of impressions, transforming from what was initially considered another April Fools marketing hoax into a truly wow-worthy stunt. Coupled with jaw-dropping design and expert media placement, the dual partnership benefits were a boon for both brands and a catalyst for major sales.
Tapping Into the Ultimate Influencer: Dunkin’ x Ben Affleck
How can a brand get in on a popular inside joke without spoiling the public’s fun? This was the challenge facing Dunkin’ when it sought to turn its unofficial viral ambassador, famed Hollywood icon Ben Affleck, into the Boston-centric face of its new campaign. After numerous paparazzi shots of Affleck picking up massive Dunkin orders, it felt like only a matter of time before the coffee brand took advantage.
Yet, too often a brand will overzealously embrace a public or viral joke and overdo it in their advertising. Through a subtle hand, witty writing, and full embracing of the joke on Affleck’s part, Dunkin’ landed itself a thoroughly enjoyable TV and OLV campaign. Whether they saw it coming, the popular coffee company landed a high-profile yet perfectly genuine brand ambassador — making it some of the best marketing of 2023 and something other brands only dream of.
A Landmark Campaign Takes Another Step: Dove Real Beauty
Since the campaign launched almost 20 years ago in 2004, “Real Beauty” from personal care brand Dove has been a case study in marketing excellence. Beyond just a push for beauty products and brand awareness, Real Beauty fearlessly pushes Dove into the conversation of self-acceptance, social media responsibility, and diversity.
Dove revived that effort to create some of the best marketing of 2023, taking on a modern reincarnation of the issues endemic to real beauty — social media filtering. Creating a Body Toxicity Index and providing tools for parents to better communicate healthy body image discussions with their kids, Dove repurposed a landmark campaign for a modern era.
Taking a Leap Forward With Your Marketing in 2024
The brands on this list took some big swings to create some of the best marketing 2023 had to offer. These campaigns also provide the perfect inspiration for marketing creative in 2024 — showing how a strong creative aimed at subverting customer expectations in delightful ways delivers the biggest response.
As your brand looks ahead to your next year’s marketing, use that innovative inspiration not as something to replicate, but as a framework for bringing your own campaigns to life — with the right partners by your side to make it happen.