10 Brands that Excelled in 2021

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2021 flashed by, and brands across the globe kept the pedal to the metal to stay one step ahead of a relentless year. COVID restrictions eased and then returned, competition in the digital realm was fiercer than ever, and consumer preferences changed in the blink of an eye. However, there were several brands that excelled against all odds, and these are the brands to draw inspiration from as we journey through 2022.

There were a lot of changes. From the way people consume content, to what audiences demand from brands; consumers are in control and they’re not slowing down. As mentioned in our Social Media Trends 2022 report, consumers “want more personalized content. They want faster service. They want better experiences. And they want it all now.” So how do brands deal with the all-powerful demands of the consumer? They get creative.

The movers and shakers of 2021

Here are the brands that got creative and excelled in 2021, understanding what consumers wanted and delivering campaigns that packed a punch. Feel free to skip to a specific brand if you’re in a hurry...

  1. Signal
  2. NHS
  3. Chobani
  4. LEGO
  5. Mattel
  6. Golty
  7. WWF
  8. Cadbury
  9. Hyundai
  10. Netflix

1. Signal reception is well received

What’s one way to get on your consumers’ good side? Protecting their communication and prioritizing privacy. It comes as no surprise that privacy has become more and more of a concern for online users recently. One of the latest manifestations of the trend can be found in the surge in popularity of a messaging app called Signal, which has made protection of user privacy its flagship policy.

Movers and Shakers - Signal App - Conversations around Signal peaked in the beginning of the year.

Conversations around Signal peaked in the beginning of the year.

Not only is Signal a donation-based app, it is also vocal about wanting to improve its app for users, and recently created its very own and very active profile on Reddit to receive comments, feedback, and questions directly from the users. They are active on social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram, and even asked their followers to “Signal that you've made the switch by setting a new profile pic in the chat app that you’re leaving behind.”

Takeaway

Reception has been mostly positive with many praising the app’s growth, its status as a nonprofit organization, and the importance it places on privacy. Signal listened to what consumers wanted and needed. Then, they delivered a service centered around those needs while continuing to maintain communication and engagement with their audience online. Pay attention to what your consumers are asking for and ensure continuous customer feedback for a higher chance of success.

2. NHS vaccination campaign hits a high note through humor

As part of the push for vaccinations at the beginning of the year, the NHS launched a campaign with Sir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine that received 20.1K mentions during the month of February, with a spike at launch, on February 10th. There was an overall 34.5% positive sentiment around the campaign, and the tweet from the NHS received 21.3K engagements:

Most conversations urged people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others, as well as highlighting the importance of keeping older generations safe. With this focus on priority groups around the campaign, there were other celebrities and influential people mentioned, who rallied together to get consumers vaccinated, like Sir David Attenborough and Dame Judi Dench.

Word cloud of top themes around the NHS vaccination campaign. Includes Michael Caine, Elton John, Westminster hospital, NHS advert.

Word cloud showing top themes around the NHS vaccination campaign.

Takeaway

Consumer intelligence is a necessary solution for major brands seeking to reach their audience. The NHS recognized the celebrities and influencers who would play a positive role in circulating crucial information, and their execution was humorous while keeping the main message a key component of the campaign. Brands that leverage influencer marketing correctly will have better odds for success, especially as influencer marketing grows.

3. Chobani tackles sustainability one yogurt cup at a time

Chobani’s oat yogurt is becoming more sustainable with paper-based packaging. This is the latest product from Chobani to join the brand’s other sustainably-packaged products like oat milk, cold brew coffee, and coffee creamers. With the rising sustainability trend, CPG brands continue to remove plastic from their inventory and transition to recyclable packaging.

Movers and Shakers - Sentiment key drivers - Chobani's new packaging design.

Hashtags recently used regarding Chobani’s new packages referred to the fight against pollution and the climate crisis, as well as support for their sustainability efforts.

With 27% positive sentiment around the announcement, Chobani is succeeding in its pursuit of recycled-packaging for its diverse product line. Conversations around this topic have included various hashtags referring to sustainability, the importance of recycling, and the role of brands in fighting climate change and reducing pollution across the supply chain.

Using image recognition technology we identified that consumers and news outlets were sharing images of Chobani’s old and new yogurt packaging.

Using image recognition technology we identified that consumers and news outlets were sharing images of Chobani’s old and new yogurt packaging.

Takeaway

For many CPG brands, it’s no longer just about what’s inside. Companies are following the trends, and it’s all about the quality of a product and the impact it has on the environment. CPG brands like Chobani have focused their innovation on reimagining their packaging, and as shown above, the image of the new oat yogurt cups has been positively received by consumers. Stay aware of industry trends to stay one step ahead of competition.

4. LEGO celebrates that Everyone is Awesome

Companies can no longer create their products or services and stay on the sidelines of topics that matter to their audience. Brands today must engage with topics like mental health, inclusivity, and social justice, or face becoming irrelevant. The LEGO Group announced its new set, Everyone is Awesome, to celebrate diversity, during 2021’s Pride Month. The set draws inspiration from the rainbow flag from the LGBTQ+ community, and was created to celebrate everyone.

Takeaway

Community is key. LEGO’s new set shows the brand’s commitment to promoting love and acceptance around the world. The announcement was discussed by more than 20K people, and the official tweet from the company was liked, retweeted, and commented on by over 40K. With this launch, the LEGO Group showed it believes in a diverse and inclusive workplace, which is why they’ve not stopped there, partnering with various organizations to make sure it supports employees who identify as LGBTQ+. With so many brands competing for attention, those that stand out and connect with their audience will come out ahead.

5. Mattel thanks real-life heroes

In May 2020, Mattel launched its #ThankYouHeroes campaign, to celebrate the work of frontline healthcare workers and other everyday heroes keeping communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the brand decided to give special recognition to six women who have been role models in the fight against COVID-19, by transforming them into one-of-a-kind Barbie dolls.

Sentiment key drivers - one-of-a-kind Barbie dolls

With over 30% of positive sentiment, conversations have focused on the incredible women chosen by Mattel and how this could inspire the next generation of female scientists.

Takeaway

By focusing on these role models, consumers believe that Mattel can inspire young generations, especially girls, to think about positions in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Most conversations have been positive, as people have used social media to support the initiative, and thank the frontline workers who continue to work hard to keep us all safe. Mattel struck a chord with their new dolls, spreading both gratitude and inspiration. Delivering the right message at the right time can make all the difference.

6. Golty spreads pink power over pink ribbons

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it often unites a global community through races, fundraisers, and other events. There were over 1.2 million mentions of breast cancer, with consumers and brands engaging strongly throughout the month and conversations peaking on World Breast Cancer Day on October 19th.

Talkwalker's Influencer Network - Golty’s #PodeRosa campaign has received the support of many sports brands, especially football teams.

Golty’s #PodeRosa campaign has received the support of many sports brands, especially football teams.

Out of all conversations found, 35% were in Spanish, and the hashtag #PodeRosa, a play on pink power, was one of the most common. With Influencer Networks we found a campaign led by Golty, a sports gear brand in Colombia, supported by the national football league. With various reactions and even changes in team logos, the campaign is successfully using partnerships to raise funds for breast cancer, as well as brand awareness for Golty, the campaign organizer.

Takeaway

Golty took a step back to consider the bigger picture, and successfully leveraged participation from influencers and partners to drive the conversation around breast cancer by tapping into what their audiences will respond to.

7. World Wildlife Fund rocks the world

The World Wildlife Fund didn’t just shake things up with one campaign in 2021, but with four amazing stories throughout the year.

Love it or Lose it for Valentine’s

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, has used Valentine’s Day to launch its latest campaign, ‘Love it or Lose it’. By reminding us of the relationship that we all have with nature, this campaign attempts to create a greater sense of awareness around protecting animals and ecosystems alike.

Sentiment key drivers - WWF for Valentine's Day

The campaign’s first week received a positive response for its message, its video, and especially its soundtrack.

Since its launch, the campaign has been surrounded with approval, represented in an 87% share of positive sentiment. People have used online conversations to praise the campaign itself and the importance of protecting wildlife. Conversations have also revolved around the song choice for the campaign video, ‘Love me tender’ by Elvis Presley, sung by American musician K.S. Rhoads. The positive reaction to the music is a great sign, especially as NGOs strive to convert these positive responses into concrete actions such as awareness generation and donations, which fit into their business goals.

WWF’s iconic panda goes missing for a day

World Wildlife Day was observed on the 3rd of March, with people spreading awareness online about conservation of nature. Mentions amounted to nearly 200K in a span of about 3 days around the occasion. Director James Gunn’s tweet was one of the top ones engaged with, as he pledged to donate as many dollars as retweets he would receive. The post has generated nearly 20K engagements so far. Gunn was among the key sentiment drivers for the more than 50% positive sentiment around WWD2021.

Virality map split by sentiment shows James Gunn’s tweet going viral with positive sentiment.

Virality map split by sentiment shows James Gunn’s tweet going viral with positive sentiment, as he pledges his donation based on the number of retweets.

The majority of posts were filled with wildlife and nature related emojis to create buzz around the day, but one of the top hashtags was one that urged people to take action by imagining a #WorldWithoutNature, yielding more than 7K mentions. This campaign initiated by the WWF brought together a number of brands and sports teams to speak for nature. For the first time in 60 years the WWF’s iconic panda disappeared from its logo, while brands also followed suit and removed images of nature from their logos.

By doing so they highlighted that in the same way that brands are incomplete without those elements, the world will also not be the same without nature.

Nature and wildlife emojis were prevalent in posts during WWD, while the theme cloud for top hashtags shows WWF’s campaign of imagining a #WorldWithoutNature being prominent.

Nature and wildlife emojis were prevalent in posts during WWD, while the theme cloud for top hashtags shows WWF’s campaign of imagining a #WorldWithoutNature being prominent.

WWF expands its reach for a bigger impact

In March 2021, we experienced Earth Hour, an annual tradition that has been occurring since 1970. The concept of shutting down electric lights for 60 minutes was launched by the WWF to encourage individuals, businesses and communities to take an active role in giving the environment a break.

Icypriya Kangujam’s tweet calling for people to participate in Earth Hour had a potential reach of 128K, and received 2K engagements.

Icypriya Kangujam’s tweet calling for people to participate in Earth Hour had a potential reach of 128K, and received 2K engagements.

Like every year, WWF launched its #EarthHour campaign worldwide, but this time it decided to expand its reach by collaborating with different influencers. In South Korea, it joined forces with actor Park Seo Joon, through a video that has been seen 23K times in the last week. In India, the WWF partnered with Icypriya Kangujam, a 9-year-old environmental activist, who received over 2K engagements for her tweet mentioning the importance of participating in this campaign for future generations.

Hashtags around Earth Hour from Talkwalker Analytics

We monitored global conversations through hashtags and saw people discussing Earth Day in English, Spanish, Korean, and Thai among other languages.

WWF’s global endeavor had a positive outcome, with over 80K people discussing Earth Day throughout the weekend. As seen above, hashtags in different languages were used to engage with the event as people showed their support and participation in Earth Day 2021. WWF showed the importance of localizing content from a global campaign to get a higher engagement on this important event.

Eurovision Song Contest gives a voice to the planet

The planet takes center stage. After the cancellation of 2020’s Eurovision Song Contest, 2021’s event officially began in Rotterdam. In addition to being one of the world’s largest music celebrations, the event joined forces with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the renowned DJ, Armin Van Buuren, for the #VoiceForThePlanet campaign. The idea behind this campaign, launched on May 15th in Rotterdam, was to raise awareness for biodiversity and the environment.

Themes around the WWF's campaign - Eurovision

Conversations around the campaign revolved around the importance of getting more people on-board and about working together towards a sustainable future.

On May 15th, the color of the Erasmus Bridge was changed to green to symbolize support for the WWF’s campaign. Looking at people’s interactions with the campaign, we saw that many are discussing the importance of having a sustainable future, and of encouraging others to join this movement and make an impact. Another topic that received a lot of attention was the actual collaboration between Eurovision, the WWF and Armin Van Buuren, which many found to be successful and encouraging.

Talkwalker's Influencer Network - Voice for the Planet

The influencer network shows the interactions around the three core voices of the campaign: the WWF, Eurovision Song Contest, and Armin Van Buuren.

The WWF is an organization that has always been able to find relevant ambassadors for its campaigns. In this case, by partnering with a global event and a world renowned DJ, they can tap into a large audience that is interested in different types of music. As shown above, another strength of the WWF is how it boosts its own campaigns throughout its accounts across markets.

Takeaway

WWF really brings the heat with the creativity of their marketing campaigns. By taking advantage of holidays, social media, and events to spark engagement and visibility, they’re able to consistently tap into what their consumers are looking for and engage. Additionally, by localizing their campaigns and taking their content to a global level, they’re able to reach a much wider audience.

8. Cadbury times their messaging for engagement

Another multi-message mover was Cadbury, with timely campaigns on several global markets.

Cadbury and Age UK tackle loneliness among seniors

In an effort to raise the morale of the older generation, Cadbury UK partnered with Age UK, a charity that supports the aged. The confectionery maker will replace the branding on its famous Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bar with inspirational stories about some of the older people that Age UK supports. The campaign, #DonateYourWords, encourages everyone to engage in conversations with older folks around them, and amassed over a thousand mentions online over the course of 2 weeks. Sentiment was overwhelmingly positive with 77% of mentions in the green.

Donate your words campaign from Cadbury - share of sentiment

The campaign’s success as seen by the whopping 77% positive sentiment was driven by the amazing lives and inspiring stories of older people.

Additionally, Age UK have produced longer versions of these stories as films on their website dubbed “Cadbury Originals” as a way to raise awareness and support to tackle loneliness. The post on the website garnered 1.6K engagements and has gone viral on Twitter, online news, newspapers, and blogs as seen in the virality map below.

Virality maps show how the #DonateYourWords campaign was effectively propagated from Age UK’s website through online media.

Virality maps show how the #DonateYourWords campaign was effectively propagated from Age UK’s website through online media.

Cadbury’s Diwali campaign for local businesses

Cadbury’s video with Shah Rukh Khan has been widely shared in online conversations, as people support the idea of buying from local businesses this Diwali.

Cadbury’s video with Shah Rukh Khan has been widely shared in online conversations, as people support the idea of buying from local businesses this Diwali.

Cadbury also launched the “Not Just a Cadbury Ad” campaign to promote local brands during Diwali, and the video has over 16 million views. With the use of machine learning, Cadbury made Shah Rukh Khan, a well-known Indian actor, brand ambassador of hundreds of local businesses by recreating his face and voice to say different local store names in ads. Consumers have shared the video 3.8K times, and with over 60% positive sentiment, they are praising the campaign’s creative way of supporting local businesses.

Cadbury’s new #GoodLuckGirls

In 1993, Cadbury Dairy Milk’s chocolate ad became iconic. Set in a cricket stadium, a young woman ran past a security guard to celebrate her boyfriend’s winning runs as she held a Dairy Milk in her hand. Cadbury launched this same ad, but this time reversed the gender roles. As the most widely sold chocolate brand in India, according to Nielsen data, Cadbury’s new ad proves the brand’s support for gender equality.

Talkwalker's Virality Map - Cadbury tweeted about its new ad, and it went viral in India, and various neighboring countries with over 5.4K engagements in less than a week.

Cadbury tweeted about its new ad, and it went viral in India, and various neighboring countries with over 5.4K engagements in less than a week.

The new advertisement got over 16.4M views over the weekend alone, and Cadbury’s tweet received over 5.4K engagements. As the IPL returns, many fans are eager to consume cricket-related content, and this ad was launched at the right time, and with a powerful message.

Word cloud - reactions to Cadbury's ad remake.

With an overwhelming positive response, consumers took to online conversation to share their support of the ad, its modern take on gender roles and creativity.

Cadbury’s original ad became iconic because it played on the popularity of cricket in India. The remake, which has received over 82% positive sentiment in response, was successful because of its play on gender roles. The video ended with the message #GoodLuckGirls, as the Indian women’s cricket team were about to start their tour in Australia, and fans were in awe. Online conversations focused on wishing luck to the cricket team, the memories the ad brings, and the modern take on gender roles shown.

Takeaway

Timing is crucial, whether it is in response to a global pandemic or the return of a sports event. By closely monitoring the best moment to release an ad, you’ll guarantee more success and if you’re lucky, drive brand love for your company and win the support of new customers.

9. BTS and Hyundai team up again for Earth Day

Every year on April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day as a way to encourage and support the protection of our environment and the planet we call home. The global event had around 2.7M mentions in 2021, compared to 2.4M in 2020, showing that people continue to be engaged with environmental topics.

Themes around Earth Day

Conversations around Earth Day covered many different themes, such as general celebrations of Earth, calls to action, and specific eco-friendly practices that we can do daily.

The topic was divided into many themes. Some people went online to share a general ‘Happy Earth Day’ message, while others focused on saying thanks for the different materials that Earth provides for us on a daily basis. Added to this, we saw many talking about how to reduce our carbon footprint or sharing ways to become more eco-friendly. One final aspect shown on the word cloud above is the continuous worry for younger generations and a more sustainable future.

For the second year in a row, Hyundai partnered with the band BTS to create a video for Earth Day. This time, the video was used to present its new hydrogen-powered vehicle, as well as showcase certain eco-friendly practices that we can include in our daily activities.

The video already has over 31 million views on YouTube, partly due to the pre-launch campaign that the automotive company did for its release, which included posting a teaser image during the seven days before the launch. Picking relevant dates to announce technologies or vehicles is crucial, and this is a key example for players in the automotive industry, which continues to pledge green initiatives.

Movers and shakers - Hyundai and BTS encourage eco-friendly activities

The chart shows the peaks in engagement with each new teaser from the Hyundai & BTS partnership, which were launched each day, for the whole week before Earth Day.

Takeaway

As with most online content, consumers’ attention is limited, and distractions run rampant. To keep people engaged, an intelligent strategy and timeline is useful in making sure a campaign gathers steam as opposed to falling flat. Consistency is also fair game; did a previous partnership work out well? There’s no harm in keeping something that works.

10. Netflix announces its new Creative Equality Fund?

Entertainment companies are currently striving to create content that represents a greater diversity not only in front of, but also behind the camera. Brands in this space are not just competing for audiences but are also invested in mirroring on screen a closer representation of our reality and diversity.

Virality map - Netflix announces a new fund

The announcement made by The New York Times that Netflix would donate $100 million to underrepresented groups went viral, especially on Twitter.

In 2021, Netflix announced it had completed a study around inclusion in its original content of 2018 and 2019. Even though the study showed that Netflix has had positive results in both gender equality and racial and ethnic representation, the brand decided to go one step further, announcing the Creative Equality Fund.

Sentiment key drivers - creative equality fund

Conversations around the new Creative Equality Fund were mostly positive as people recognized the role that brands play in pushing forward inclusion and diversity

The news was received with 21% positive sentiment and almost no negative responses. What people highlighted the most from the announcement was Netflix’s supportive stance to diverse communities, and how it is leading its industry in the path to inclusion. As people look for more original content from entertainment companies, they must take into account who the viewer is, and give them shows that resonate.

Looking forward in 2022…

There’s no denying it. Consumers are in the driver’s seat, and they’ve no plans of slowing down. We’ve seen what these brands accomplished in 2021 to draw in their audience and retain engagement online. By getting creative with how, when, and what they create and put out, these brands have proven that consumer intelligence is the most important aspect of having not just a successful campaign, but a successful brand. Take these steps to make the most of your opportunities and connect with your consumers:

  • Be aware of what your audience responds to and is talking about online
  • Launch localized campaigns to pinpoint the proper geographic audience
  • Be consistent in your strategy, content, and scheduling
  • Be creative and try new things to maintain interest
  • Define a way to measure your progress and results

Are you still not totally sure of how to design your social media strategy for the year? All you have to do is download the report below and discover the social media trends that will be topping the charts in 2022. Connect with your consumers today!

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