Top 3 Video Marketing Campaigns of 2020

2020 has been a tough year for video marketers. While more people than ever were (and still are) stuck inside and craving video content, marketers had to figure out entirely new ways to position their messages.

Attitudes changed. Target locations changed. Incomes changed. And customer priorities changed (we can’t get that new iPhone… we need to save up for more toilet paper!). 

2020 has been a watershed year for marketing, so we thought it would be a good idea to look at some video campaigns that did it right. 

The following brands took risks that paid off in a year when others laid low. But in 2021, brands that remain indecisive will likely fail. 

Get out your notepad and learn what you can from these successful campaigns. 

Nuclear Energy Institute’s Nuclear Rebranding

We’re cheating a little bit here because this campaign actually started in 2019. But we wanted to include it because it ran into 2020 and it was highly successful despite being poised for failure. It even won an award for the best online video ad campaign of 2020 from the Internet Advertising Competition. 

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has had a hard time getting people to like it. Despite nuclear energy being one of the cleanest and most powerful energy sources on the planet, it’s been falling out of favor with the public—rapidly. In 2010, nuclear energy enjoyed a 62% rate of favor in the USA. in 2020, that’s dropped to about 29%. Ouch.

Nuclear needed a rebranding, and they got it with this campaign. 

NEI’s series of 30-second videos took an upbeat and hip approach to PSA content. This got the attention of younger audiences concerned with progressive issues like climate change and clean energy (though they dangerously skirted the line between “cool” and “fellow kids” territory).

The videos emphasized nuclear energy as clean, but more importantly, that it already represented 55% of the US’s clean energy supply. It also buddied up with solar and wind, naming itself an ally to all clean energies.

NEI’s biggest risk was embracing their rebranding directly in their videos (“allow us to reintroduce ourselves”). But this honesty paired well with the science-based appeal, and it worked. It also helped that there was no preachy voiceover. 

The result was a 15% increase in the perceived importance of nuclear energy and a 2% rise in support

Key Takeaways:

  • Innocent by association: Ally yourself with trends that your target also approves of. 
  • Think forward: Old stereotypes are easier to break in new audiences.
  • Show don’t tell: NEI didn’t explain why nuclear is clean. It emphasized facts (“nuclear represents 55% of clean energy in the US”).
  • Text over talk: Keep it short and punchy, and use numbers to catch the eye
  • Be honest: Recognize your audience’s impression of your brand in order to disarm them. 

Gillette Walks a Razor’s Edge with #metoo

Gillette, a brand of shaving razors and men’s hygiene products, took a big leap of faith by building a 2020 video ad campaign around the #metoo movement.

The #metoo movement encourages women to share stories of past sexual abuse in order to educate the public on its prevalence in society. 

So, why did a men’s brand embrace a women’s movement? Gillette saw the writing on the wall: change is coming.

Their video ad is a masterpiece of emotional appeal. It tells a story with men at the center. And while it’s critical, it’s incredibly hopeful and positive. Does it talk about shaving? No. It doesn’t have to. The ad isn’t about a product. It’s about positioning the brand as brave and progressive. Gillette is showing that it will take a stand, even if it means losing customers.

Though, Gillette knew that any momentary backlash would be negligible. Buyer attitudes will continue to bend in the direction of the brand’s positioning. (This is the same approach Nike took with its Colin Kaepernick campaign.) 

The brand went so far as to change its 30-year-old slogan of “The Best a Man Can Get” to “The Best a Man Can Be.” The message is clear: Better men use Gillette products. 

The week before this campaign launched, Gillette had 10k social media mentions. The week after? 1.5 million. 

Key Takeaways:

  • See the writing on the wall: Preempting change and taking a stand on a divisive issue can create a powerful impression that lasts. 
  • Hope sells: Obama knew it. Now you know too. Even when addressing competitors, inspiring is always more effective than attacking. 
  • Tell a story: Storytelling is the most effective advertising strategy. Just remember that Gillette wasn’t telling a story about other men. They were telling a story about you. 
  • Go Big or Go Home: Your ad campaign doesn’t just push your brand. It is your brand. Embrace your message completely.

Kentucky Goes Far

Kentucky Tourism had a small problem in 2020. We don’t think we need to tell you what it was, but it rhymes with SCHMOVID-19. 

While most tourism boards have thrown in the towel this year, Kentucky thought outside the box and started advertising “staycations” in Kentucky with it’s “Stay Close, Go Far” campaign. 

In a time when tourism is practically non-existent, Kentucky realized that it had a lot to offer its own citizens and those in surrounding states. Kentucky is full of outdoor sights and socially-distanced activities. It’s the perfect place to visit during a pandemic. 

Its campaign video is not particularly thrilling or innovative, but it showcases the beautiful outdoors or Kentucky while splicing in stock video footage to save cash. 

Kentucky thought outside the box and launched a successful tourism campaign in the midst of a pandemic, and they did it in a reserved and frugal way. 

This campaign just launched in autumn, so the numbers aren’t in yet. But as one of the only places running tourism ads, The Bluegrass State is bound to see some results. 

Key Takeaways:

  • There’s always an angle: 2020 hasn’t made it impossible to market your product. You just haven’t found your angle.  
  • Never stop advertising: Even if your industry is in a slump, you should never halt your marketing efforts.
  • Spend smart when resources are thin: Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean cutting quality. Use stock footage, customer curated content, live video, etc. to push on.
  • Switching your target is not a sin: If your target has evaporated (e.g. international tourists), find a new one. 

Video Marketing Lessons for 2021 

Think video marketing is going back to normal in 2021? Think again. 

2020 is a game-changing year for marketers, and those that survive will be the ones who learned important lessons during this tough time.

Take note of the campaigns above and remember what they did well. The best video marketing campaigns of 2020 will give rise to the successes of 2021. Will you be one of them?