Innovation in Advertising: Examining Memorable Ad Campaigns

Hyder Jaffari
October 30, 2023
Innovation in Advertising: Examining Memorable Ad Campaigns

Innovation demands exploration, and exploring creates questions; questions need answers - which brings people back to why they were in the discussion in the first place.

Quite a few advertising campaigns over the years have caught consumers' attention, sometimes for the wrong reasons but mainly for the intended reasons.

Let's look at some campaigns that have become iconic by being innovative and even ahead of their times.

The Man In The Hathaway Shirt

Let's start with David Mackenzie Ogilvy, also known as the 'Father of Advertising.'

In 1951, the owner of C.F. Hathaway Company recruited David Ogilvy to create an advertising campaign for his shirt company.

At the time, the offer of complete creative control and a lifetime contract interested Ogilvy enough to take on the project. With a budget of $30,000, the ad for Hathaway Shirts sporting a man with an eye patch was born. Which basically came about by chance.

Ogilvy saw a portrait of Lewis Douglas, an ambassador to England, wearing an eye patch due to an injury he had sustained while fly fishing.

Using the image as inspiration, he bought some costume eye patches and asked the photographer to shoot a few with them on the model Baron Wrangell. The theme was an aristocratic man with a colorful life.

The ad was first published in The New Yorker, and it was reported that every Hathaway shirt in the city was sold within a week. The company went on to become the second-largest shirtmaker in the U.S. till its dissolution in 2002.


No, not George Orwell. Though, it does feel like it sometimes.

I'm talking about Apple, and yes, the ad was inspired by the book.

Apple's Super Bowl commercial for the Macintosh computer, directed by Ridley Scott, drew inspiration from the novel "1984." The ad showed a dystopian world broken by conformity until a woman with a sledgehammer (representing the Macintosh) ran towards a screen, which was delivering propaganda messages.

She shatters it by throwing the hammer towards it. The screen fades out to reveal the message:

"On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984'."

The "1984" ad is often considered one of the greatest and most influential television commercials ever created. It not only introduced the Macintosh to the world but also conveyed Apple's brand identity as a company that challenged the status quo and encouraged individuality and innovation.

They've done well since then.

Old Spice

The Man, Your Man, Could Smell Like made every man want to own a horse. Instead, they just bought Old Spice body wash.

The ad featured Isaiah Mustafa, who kept talking as the background and elements around him changed. It became a viral sensation, and sales of Old Spice in all categories increased significantly.

Even though this ad is relatively new, having come out in 2010, it made an impression on the industry as social media took to it in ways not seen before. The success inspired other companies to pursue viral marketing strategies as well. It highlighted the potential of social media and online video to reach a broad audience and create buzz around a brand or product.

Just Do It

Launched in 1988, it has had a profound impact on the sportswear industry and has become synonymous with the Nike brand.

It is known as one of the most enduring and influential campaigns in advertising history. It transformed Nike into a global powerhouse and is synonymous with the brand's identity of motivation and determination.

Dan Wieden, a partner of the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, coined the slogan.

The campaign featured various advertisements that told compelling and emotional stories of real athletes and everyday people overcoming challenges and pushing their limits. These stories resonated with viewers and inspired them to connect with the Nike brand.

Celebrities like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Rafael Nadal, among others, have been associated with the brand, further strengthening the philosophy behind the message by the world's best athletes.

Shia LeBeouf, however, was never signed by Nike.

Here's something you might now know. The inspiration for the "Just Do It" slogan came from convicted murderer Gary Gilmore's last words before his execution, as told by Dan Wieden.

They Just Keep Going and Going...

If you're a 90s kid, you immediately know what I am referring to.

The Energizer Bunny commercials were funny and cute and just kept going and going.

Developed by the Chiat/Day advertising agency in the late 1980s, the campaign introduced the Energizer Bunny as a symbol of unstoppable energy and long-lasting power associated with their batteries.

Of course, Energizer did this to counter the Duracell bunny, which the company used as a mascot. The concept was to show that the Energizer Bunny had superior stamina by humorously outlasting other battery-operated devices powered by Duracell.

The agency had the brilliant idea of building fake commercials for fake products and letting the bunny interrupt them randomly, saying, "Nothing outlasts the Energizer." "They just keep going and going…"

The Energizer brand has just kept going since then. It serves as a testament to the effectiveness of creating memorable advertising characters and symbols that convey the core message of a product.

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