Recently I’ve noted a few adverts and campaigns that I’ve found worthy of sharing on Facebook and Twitter; occasionally there’s an ad that simply makes me smile or is perhaps just annoyingly clever. Whatever it is that makes me want to share them, the people behind these campaigns understand the power of social media and the sneezing effect.

One of my all time faves of yesteryear was the world famous campaign for the Honda Accord in 2003, known as ‘The Cog’. I loved it then, I was only 13 and probably didn’t have a clue. It took 606 takes to finally shoot the bits of car in one real time shot. I just thought it was genius and it still is. Also, remember the Cadbury’s Gorilla ad that got everyone talking before the time of the hashtag? Of course you do, this 2007 campaign was a big one for Cadbury’s – who were considered to be quite conservative at the time. More recently, the ad for 3 featuring the Shetland pony prancing down the beach in time to Fleetwood Mac caused an online sensation, the clip going viral with 2 million hits in less than a week.

Now these current examples may or may not be quite as future proof but I’ve remembered them, and for me that’s a quite a big deal – I usually forget things I’ve seen almost instantly.

M&S have recently undergone a rebrand, which sees not only a fresher minimal version of their mark but also a new campaign, which takes the lead from the iconic ‘Not just any food’ campaign. The 60 second ad moves on from this and uses a series of tantalizing shots of fresh produce and adventurous combinations, intended to target the most discerning food-centric M&S consumers. The emphasis on flavours and the joy of food aims to remind consumers that this is what M&S is all about; it champions the food itself and brings focus to quality and experience rather than price. The piece does provide an audio/visual treat, with high quality shots placed in a fast paced montage featuring an array of colours and textures with quick cuts. All in time to an instrumental version of Rather Be to round off the story without a hashtag in sight.

Lidl have also created a campaign that literally did surprise me. The #LidlSurprises campaign (that pesky hashtag again!) introduces a perception changing tactic as part of its message, again, not relying solely on price point to drive home the message. Similarly, they have opted to focus on the perceived notion of quality; by disguising Lidl produce on a farmer’s market setting. By hiding all branding and reference to Lidl, curious shoppers taste test the produce resulting in shock when they ultimately find out where it’s from. The quality of the filming and props add to the verisimilitude and increase the sense of surprise viewers also feel towards the end of the ad with the grand reveal.

Another clever one is Ikea’s Book Book ad; a funny ad that cheekily pokes fun at Apple i-culture. The ad sees a serious Apple-like genius talking us through the latest Ikea catalogue, as though it is a new ground breaking piece of technology, but in fact it is a traditional paper catalogue. It’s a tongue in cheek comment on how plugged in we constantly are – ironic because the ad has gone viral and is now all over the internet but it’s also a subtle reminder that we should take five minutes away from the iPhone every now and then. It cleverly coincided with the launch of the iPhone 6 and presents a demonstration technique that we are all too familiar with.

Lastly, Homepride has just launched its latest TV campaign (after 10 years away), which features a larger than life Fred – mirroring the extra prominence Fred has received on the jars. Again Homepride has incorporated the hashtag #LoveFred, in order to spark the nostalgia of Homepride’s earlier years and bring it into modern day conversation – perhaps introducing Fred for the first time to some. The advert shows a cheeky Fred taking part in a family meal, giving him a bigger personality and making him more integral to the campaign, almost more than the food itself. The tongue in cheek approach is set to divide viewers and has already caused an online frenzy with the ads first showing during prime time TV last weekend.

These more recent examples show how easily ads can be used to ignite opinion and create a dialogue between the viewers and the brand, taking campaigns into a world where the visual is just as important as the discussion that follows. It also means brands are having to work harder to ensure the messages reach viewers as they intended with hashtags and the i-world becoming increasingly integral to every campaign.

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