The Five Greatest Strategic Moves by Big Companies

A celebration of the most impressive marketing moments across the world

When it comes to doing successful business in the 21st century, there’s only one rule. When everyone else shuffles off to the right, you need to turn left. Innovation and choosing to take the risk is the key to making an impact and securing success in today’s business arena. It is those new companies with a stroke of strategic brilliance or those established brands that go down a fresh road when the one they’re on is growing a little dusty or overcrowded, that get people talking.

In celebration of marketing magic and embracing all that is adventurous about running a business, we’ve rounded up our top five strategic moves by companies who show that following your instincts really does pay off.


Nike: Just Do It


The Nike motto has become almost as globally renowned as its fitness clothing and footwear, but did you know that once upon a time the brand served only serious marathon runners? When the fitness craze and fitness fashion emerged in the late ‘80s, Nike seized on this opportunity to stride ahead of their competitors and become the go-to fitness brand for anyone and everyone who liked to exercise.

Their ‘Just Do It’ campaign increased sales from $800 million to $9.2 billion in a decade. The brief yet totally on-point wording struck a chord because it so cleverly sums up the often-ambivalent human relationship with exercise. The best marketing hits the right chords and emotions to elicit the desired response in their audience, and no one knows that better than the team at Nike.


Dove: Real Beauty



Tired of seeing the picture-perfect, unrealistically skinny models who had been airbrushed to perfection, Dove decided to turn the beauty ideal on its head and talk to their audience in a language everyone can understand: authenticity.

Their ‘Real Beauty’ campaign launched in 2004 and transformed the idea of beauty from something anxiety-inducing and unrealistic to a concept that spoke to women who want to embrace their beauty without feeling compelled to conform to stereotype.

Their campaign featured older women with grey hair, women with wrinkles, oversized women and ginger women with freckles to show that every single person is beautiful, and no one should be afraid to enjoy their own beauty. They also used hard statistics to back up their message and drive the point home – just 4% of women in the world think of themselves as beautiful.

The campaign worked. Their Real Beauty Sketches campaign was viewed more than 114 million times in 110 countries around the world. That’s some very beautiful results for an ambitious marketing campaign that really paid off.


Honda: Amaze


Sometimes it’s better to show rather than tell and nobody knows that better than the guys at Honda. Back in 2015 and to promote the launch of the Honda Amaze, Honda Cars India managed to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘the longest journey by a car in a single country.’

Their vehicle took a three-month journey starting in Jodhpur and winding its way across 23,800 kilometres and 400 towns traversing mountainous terrain, country roads and busy cities along the way.  Popular Indian author and public speaker Chetan Bhagat took the wheel with his footage of the journey playing a major role in driving attention towards the innovative campaign.

Radio station BIG FM supported the campaign along the way at its 30 stations around the country, inviting dealers into the studio and hosting live shows across Honda showrooms. When it comes to showing just how good your product can be, creating an epic journey and breaking world records is surely the way.


Budweiser: Whassup


If you were around in the ‘90s, you were surely one of those people who greeted friends with an overlong “whassuppppppp” for an overlong period of time. This campaign from Budweiser was absolutely flawless and shows the importance of marketing context as it tied perfectly into the pop culture style of the time.

The campaign was also based entirely on silly humour which is always going to go down a storm. It made major traction after appearing at the Super Bowl in 2000, spawning global parodies, winning a sweep of awards and cementing both the phrase and the brand as a major pop culture icon.

It was also groundbreaking in being one of the first examples of viral content as the brand offered the perfect digital alignment – the campaign directed viewers to the Budweiser website where they could learn how to say “Whassup” in more than 30 languages. Traffic levels went through the roof and the Budweiser team patted themselves on the back for a job well done.


Old Spice: The Man You Could Smell Like


Back in 2009, Old Spice took advantage of one of the golden marketing rules – campaign to those people who are buying on behalf of your target customer. With the wise recognition that women were making most body wash purchases on behalf of their man, they realised there was a need to speak directly to women but without alienating men and long-time Old Spice customers.

The result? A campaign that mocked the entire convention of advertising based on an entirely meta concept – a risk that paid off. When one actor tried a Don Juan take on the script, it broke the ice and got everyone laughing but it was Isaiah Mustafa who tried the smooth-talking version of the ad and won the spot.

The script opened with a handsome, muscled man announcing “hello ladies” and finished with him riding off into the sunset on the beach with the simple phrase “I’m on a horse.” Why? Because it made the team laugh.

It was the subsequent Twitter campaign that cemented its viral status with a slew of videos from Mr Mustafa who employed his “paragon of manliness” status to record responses to enthusiastic audience members including Ashton Kutcher. The campaigns were written in real-time so the creativity was pure.

Sometimes the greatest strategic ideas come at a time when you don’t overthink it. At the end of the day, good marketing is good marketing and these guys know exactly what that means.

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