The Best Campaigns You Didn’t See in 2014

December is a time for wrapping up, and this time of year, there’s a lot of final fanfare for well-loved campaigns via “Best Of” lists. But 2014 was also a year for some brilliant but overlooked campaigns that flew under the radar while the industry gave all its accolades to the Ice Bucket Challenge and Apple Pay.

Sometimes, great video content simply got lost in the shuffle and didn’t get nearly as many views as experts anticipated. One of those videos, according to Greg Jarboe, president of SEO-PR, was The Brotherhood SisterSol’s “Talk About the Talk.” The nonprofit group, which provides long-term support services to youth, partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi NY to shoot a powerful video about race and police in America in the wake of the Ferguson outcome. According to Jarboe, the video’s message was lost in the greater conversation around Ferguson and Eric Garner because it got overshadowed by too much content.

“With 300 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute, a lot of great videos go unnoticed,” says Jarboe. “So, ‘TalkAboutTheTalk’ may have been discovered by more people if the title was ‘Talk About the Talk,’ if it had been ‘seeded’ with a few influential bloggers, or if it had been promoted with an advertising campaign. In other words, you need to do more than upload a video for it to be discovered.”

A more lighthearted campaign that got lost in the shuffle this year was HBO’s “Awkward Family Viewing” campaign by SS+K. The videos focused on the awkward moments that can arise when watching more risqué HBO programming with family and offered HBO Go as a more private means of viewing the premium cable channel. Susan Credle, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett USA, says that after initial excitement over the ads in the industry, they debuted to much less excitement than many anticipated.

HBO GO – Awkward Family Viewing – Your Choice from SS+K on Vimeo.

“I think they’re hilarious,” Credle says. “When this came out there was a lot of noise in the industry. People were really excited about it, and then it just kind of begged out.”

The videos could have been a bit too provocative for TV, where they debuted, according to Credle. “I have a feeling that some of them are too provocative for TV, so they may not be good for primetime viewing. It may not have gotten past the sensors, but I feel good about saying that I would watch this again,” Credle says. Since HBO only uploaded one video to Vimeo and hasn’t released the videos to YouTube, the company may have missed a prime opportunity to promote the campaign across social, where it’s more likely to be shared and well received than on primetime television, where the ad puts viewers in the same awkward position they lampoon: viewing risqué content with their families.

Many smart marketing campaigns get shunted aside due to poor social planning. For example, Credle loved this year’s Lapiz USA “#Unstoppable” campaign, which aimed to bring tourists back to Los Cabos after Hurricane Odile swept through the region in September. The campaign was clever; it sent celebrities to Los Cabos to recreate tourists’ Instagram photos of the town in order to show how little damage had been done by the storm. However, without paid social to prop up the campaign, few have seen it.

“I think ‘#Unstoppable’ is very modern, very fresh,” says Credle. “It’s an important campaign. But it’s hard to get to scale quickly without a lot of mass media or paid media. Most of the things that catch on in social media are supported by a lot of paid media. So this is a grassroots idea.”

Some campaigns, like Tylenol’s “For What Matters Most,” campaign, which re-imagined Norman Rockwell holidays for a more modern audience, seemed destined to get people talking, yet came up short in terms of shares and buzz. Jarboe believes the campaign was overlooked because of weak SEO.

“Tylenol used a trademarked slogan, ‘For What Matters Most,’ in its title,” Jarboe says. “Very few slogans are search terms. This would have done better if it had put ‘Norman Rockwell’ in the title.”

Credle says that the main reason smart, interesting campaigns get overlooked lies in the sheer volume of content across all channels. “We’re inundated with thousands and thousands of pieces of communication every day,” says Credle. “So it’s hard to get above the clutter. A lot of times one thing catches on, and we make that [content] so dominant that we forget other things. Not that they’re necessarily better or worse. I think we just default to what we know.”

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