Visual marketing

7 of the best visual marketing campaigns of 2021 (so far)

  • 14 Minutes
Here are the best visual marketing campaigns of 2021 (so far) for you to take inspiration from or straight out steal.

What kind of content do you crave from brands?

If you’d prefer punchy social-ready videos over lengthy blog posts, you’re not alone. In fact, 90% of the information our brain’s absorb is visual, which is why visual marketing is becoming a top priority for marketers globally.

These are endless ways to use eye-catching images, graphics and video to capture audience attention and communicate your brand’s key messages. But, we’re here to share just a handful of the very best visual marketing campaigns to land on social media.

Let’s look at seven of the best visual marketing campaigns out there in the wild and reveal how you can use these examples to inspire your own visual marketing efforts on social media.

 Zoom’s Virtual Background Competition

Zoom instagram post featuring man pretending to run away from a t-rex during a zoom call

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

2020 was the year of video conferencing and the virtual meeting platform Zoom skyrocketed in popularity. With so many conference call platforms out there, Zoom was on a mission to boost sign ups for the free trial during the pandemic.

So, the idea for Zoom’s Virtual Background competition was born. Zoom took to social media to call out for users to share a snap or video of them using the virtual background feature.

To incentivise participation, every month Zoom selected three of the most creative entries to win a stack of branded items as prizes.

Why does it work?

This campaign leverages smart visual marketing and topical events to boost conversions and platform sign ups. Rather than simply promoting their free trial, Zoom has cleverly leveraged the viral trend of virtual backgrounds to boost engagement with their platform.

Funny, eye-catching visuals that show Zoom’s virtual backgrounds in action inspired users to try this feature out for themselves and encourage their teammates to do the same.

Plus, by asking users to share their snaps for the chance to win a prize, Zoom has scored a bank of high-value user generated content they can reshare on social media.

Key lessons and learnings

For brands looking to boost conversions through visual marketing, this Zoom campaign offers plenty of useful insights, including:

  • Use emotive and eye-catching visuals to showcase your product, feature or service in action in unique and unexpected ways.
  • Offer an incentive (such as a prize, voucher or discount code) to boost participation in your competitions.
  • Ask users to share their visuals with you to create a library of user generated content you can reshare to build social proof.

Daniel Wellington’s #WheresWellington Campaign

Hashtag page for #wheresweelington showcasing several Wellington watch wearers in exotic locations

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

Ever played the game Where’s Wally? That classic picture book is what inspired the team from luxury watch brand Daniel Wellington to create their latest visual marketing campaign on social media.

While resharing user generated content is nothing new for Daniel Wellington, the team decided to put on a creative twist on their usual visual content strategy.

Instead of merely resharing the best images from customers, Daniel Wellington used the hashtag #WheresWellington and asked followers to guess where each photo was taken.

Why does it work?

The act of gamifying their visual content helped to boost engagement rates for Daniel Wellington on social media. The simple step of having to guess the location of each piece of user generated content gave followers an added reason to like, comment and share their posts.

As a result, Daniel Wellington’s #WheresWellington campaign content saw significantly higher engagement rate than their normal social media posts. With more users interacting with these visuals, the platforms deemed this content to be interesting and relevant (thereby boosting the reach of these posts).

Key lessons and learnings

When it comes to gamifying visual content on social media, Daniel Wellington’s campaigns reveal that:

  • High-quality visual content is essential to hook users in and inspire interactions.
  • Using a simple Q&A or guessing format is a powerful way to boost engagement.
  • Leveraging a branded campaign hashtag allows you to collate your campaign content and easily review the success of your efforts when creating post campaign reports.

Apple’s #ShotOniPhone campaign

Instagram post of man standing under tree with fairy lights at night

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

It’s no secret that Apple are leaders in the consumer electronics space. Every year, Apple has released exciting new products or iterations of their iconic range (such as new iPhones, Macbooks and Apple Watches).

So, how do they keep customers interested and coming back for more? The secret is in their visual marketing efforts that showcase the unique features of each new product release.

In their latest #ShotOniPhone campaign, Apple used online and offline marketing to promote the release of their new iPhone 12 Pro.

Specifically, they leveraged user generated content to showcase the brilliance of their new Night Mode camera, with social posts, billboards and digital ads showing real life shots captured using this new camera feature.

Why does it work?

We’ve been chatting a lot about campaigns using user generated content, and there’s good reasons why. 75% of people feel UGC makes a brand feel more authentic, and 90% of consumers say UGC has a bigger influence on their decision-making process than search engine results.

But back to this #ShotOniPhone campaign. Apple’s skillful use of incredible photography captured by their consumers on their iPhone 12 Pro engaged their community, with the hashtag used over 16 million times on Instagram alone.

These powerful pieces of UGC let Apple’s product features speak for themselves and build incredible social proof for the benefits of the new iPhone.

With so much user generated visual content on social media, Apple has generated incredible publicity and exposure for free (which would have cost them thousands of dollars in paid advertising).

Key lessons and learnings

With millions of pieces of valuable user generated content created, Apple’s #ShotOniPhone campaign reveals:

  • User generated content is a cost-effective way to reach new audiences and build trust with new customers on social media.
  • Harnessing engaging, high-quality visuals allows you to showcase the features and benefits of your products with images alone (as they say, a picture speaks a thousand words).
  • Resharing user generated content on social media builds brand salience with your customers and boost their loyalty to your brand.

Weetabix x Heinz Twitter campaign

Truly horrific image of baked beans on weetabix with several other companies chiming in to castigate this unholiness

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

Are you an eggs on toast kinda bruncher, or more of a cereal muncher? In this hilarious visual marketing campaign from iconic cereal brand Weetabix, you’ll see a first-of-its-kind brekkie combo that you won’t be able to forget.

So here’s what went down: Weetabix took to Twitter to share an eye-catching photo of a plate of Weetabix covered in Heinz baked beans. To date, this Tweet has generated nearly 22k comments, 107k retweets and 133k likes.

This crazy brekkie combination has sparked conversation with social media users and brands across the globe, gathering serious social conversation and boosting organic reach. And all it took was a touch of creative thinking and one unforgettable piece of visual content.

Why does it work?

What makes this piece of visual content marketing so effective is its ability to engage and entertain audiences with out-of-the-box visuals.

This tweet from Weetabix has proved so popular that other big brands are jumping on the trend and recreating this post (including KFC and even the UK’s NHS).

For a brand that has been around for decades, keeping consumers engaged and loyal to their brand has been a challenge for Weetabix. But, this visual marketing campaign has shown they’ve skillfully used visual content to reach new younger audiences and bring their core product back into public discourse.

Key lessons and learnings

So, what can your business learn from this innovative visual marketing campaign from Weetabix?

  • Use visual content to surprise and delight your audience and show your product in unexpected ways.
  • Leverage brand voice and personality to use tongue-in-cheek humour that your customers will relate to.
  • Don’t be afraid to be playful with your visual content and craft brand awareness campaigns that engage and entertain your audience.

Dove’s Project #ShowUs

Woman with vitiligo posing with her arms behind her head

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

The personal care brand Dove is renowned for memorable visual marketing campaigns. Back in 2004, the brand launched their iconic #RealBeauty campaign, focused on inclusivity, natural beauty and body positivity.

But the stats still show that 70% of women don’t feel represented in media and advertising. So, Dove set out to craft a compelling visual marketing campaign designed to shatter beauty stereotypes.

Dove’s Project #ShowUs saw the brand partner with Girlgaze, Getty Images and a range of women and non-binary individuals to create a collection of over 10,000 images that show a more inclusive vision of beauty.

The entire project was powered by women (both in front and behind the camera), showcasing real diversity and no digital distortion (like many advertising campaigns in the beauty and fashion industry typically use).

The goal of the campaign was to show an unfiltered version of beauty that Dove’s customers and women across the globe could relate to.

Why does it work?

Since launching, Dove’s #ShowUs campaign has harnessed professional and user generated visual content to redefine standards of beauty. The project has given women and non-binary people a platform to show a more inclusive vision of beauty, too.

To date, there have been over 650,000 uses of this campaign hashtag on Instagram, demonstrating the success of the campaign in creating powerful user generated content.

Plus, the campaign has solidified Dove’s brand values of being a progressive, inclusive and diverse beauty brand in the eyes of consumers.

By giving their customers a platform to share their vision of beauty, Dove has sparked meaningful conversations and connection with new and existing audiences on social media.

Key lessons and learnings

When it comes to harnessing the power of visual marketing, Dove’s #ShowUs campaign has demonstrated:

  • Using shared values is a powerful way to boost brand salience, with 77% of consumers opting to buy from brands that share their values.
  • Leveraging user generated content to make a political statement allows businesses to build brand preference and earn emotive buy-in from audiences.
  • Harnessing visual content from real consumers builds trust with new audiences and keeps your brand top-of-mind when they’re ready to make a sale.

Pantone’s #BigGameColorCommentary Campaign

Pantone comparing two almost identical shades of red

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

Pantone, the colour standards company, isn’t a likely match for the Super Bowl. But in Pantone’s recent #BigGameColorCommentary campaign, the colour institute took to Twitter and Instagram to share some engaging insights during the big match.

For the first time ever, the two teams playing in the Super Bowl final (the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers) were wearing almost identical team colours: red.

So, Pantone took this opportunity to showcase its knowledge of all things colours and engage with captive Super Bowl audiences during the big game.

Throughout the game, Pantone was live tweeting and posting to Instagram about the game through the lens of Pantone. They showcased their colour expertise in play-by-plays, commenting on everything from Super Bowl facts to popular games foods and even mid game commercials using Pantone colour codes.

From bestowing Heinz ketchup with its own Pantone shade (Pantone Heinz 57 red, if you’re interested) to giving the two competing teams their own unique Pantone shades, the brand cleverly harnessed visual content to engage with audiences in real-time.

Why does it work?

What makes this visual marketing campaign so effective is Pantone’s ability to harness user behaviour to their advantage during the big game.

Specifically, Pantone realised that many Super Bowl fans conduct “second-screening” activities while tuning into the Super Bowl (such as checking social media). With over 100 million viewers tuning into the game (and 11% expected to second-screen during the game), Pantone realised there was a huge opportunity to tap into mobile users with a visual-led marketing campaign.

By actively participating in live tweeting and Instagram posting during this big event, Pantone was able to harness the potential of this engaged pool of young audiences in real-time.

By using social media as their platform of choice, Pantone found a cost-effective channel to reach and engage with new audiences (rather than spending upwards of $5 million to become an official Super Bowl advertising partner).

As a result of this smart visual marketing campaign, Pantone was able to build brand awareness with a new audience pool and leverage a key cultural moment in the sporting calendar to boost their organic reach on social media.

Key lessons and learnings

This strategic campaign by Pantone reveals the power of visual marketing campaigns to:

  • Use visuals and bespoke graphics to showcase a brand’s expertise and position them as a leader in their industry.
  • Tap into broader cultural conversations and trending topics with eye-catching visuals that audiences can easily engage with and reshare on social media.
  • Leverage humour and witty visuals to humanise a brand and connect with new demographics and audience groups on social media.

Getty Museum Challenge

Various people and objects imitating famous or great works of art

What is this visual marketing campaign about?

While 2020 forced art galleries and exhibition spaces to shut their doors, many organisations found new and innovative ways to stay connected with their audiences on social media.

That’s exactly what the marketing team from Getty Museum did with their Getty Museum Challenge on social media.

Inspired by other international galleries (such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam), Getty Museum called out to followers to recreate their favourite artworks with items from their own home and share their work on social media.

This campaign encouraged followers to head to their online art collection to find inspiration and recreate these artworks while staying at home during the pandemic.

Why does it work?

What made this hilarious campaign by Getty Museum so successful is the way it gave followers an engaging way to entertain themselves while in lockdown.

With millions of people spending more time online and on social media than ever before, this interactive campaign inspired art lovers to recreate their favourite artworks for a chance to be featured on Getty Museum’s social media feeds.

The campaign shared engaging visuals showing a side-by-side of the original artwork and the users’ recreation.

And even for those who didn’t take part, scrolling through the inspiring and innovative creations shared by other users provided much-needed entertainment and light relief during lockdown.

Since launching in March 2020, this visual marketing campaign has seen the hashtag #GettyMuseumChallenge was used over 50,000 times on Instagram alone, with many resharing these pieces of user generated content to other sites such as TikTok and Reddit.

For Getty Museum, this campaign produced thousands of pieces of valuable user generated content and boosted awareness of the museum across social media.

The museum even benefited from free publicity across a range of media outlets who covered this visual marketing campaign, therefore boosting their visibility (even while their doors were closed in 2020).

Key lessons and learnings

This successful campaign by Getty Museum reveals that:

  • Harnessing viral visual content trends has the ability to stay engaged with existing audiences and organically reach new users on social media.
  • It’s important to offer users new and innovative ways to engage with your business (such as through interactive competitions and photo challenges).
  • Jumping on trending topics and visual content trends can help your business gain valuable publicity, extending the reach of your brand and content beyond social media.

When it comes to visual marketing campaigns, these examples demonstrate that businesses can score a range of benefits from harnessing the power of visual content. By finding new and innovative ways to inspire user generated content, communicate your brand values and harness trending topics, visual marketing has the power to move the needle for your business.

Whether you’re looking to boost brand awareness or drive sales, visual marketing can communicate your key messages effectively and ensure your brand remains top-of-mind with past and potential customers.

Photo of Kyra GoodmanKyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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