4 Brand Activism Marketing Campaigns To Watch in 2021

Brand activism exploded in 2020 and is here to stay. Though it’s been one of the main marketing trends during the last year, data shows that brand activism mattered long before.

Back in 2016, 80% of global consumers agreed that businesses must address societal issues (Edelman).

The turmoil of 2020 only made consumers more aware and more critical of the brands that don’t speak out. Smart marketers took note and developed outstanding marketing campaigns supporting good causes.

We’ll examine four such examples of campaigns from 2020. Learn from these examples and use your insights when plotting your own strategy — only amateurs start from scratch.

1. Nike’s #YouCantStopOurVoice


What’s it about

Inspiring voters to go out and cast their vote because their voice matters, even if they’re not a global superstar.

The call to action

While Nike is reaching people to inspire voting, the film is also inviting the viewer to visit vote.nike.com. At the time of writing, the site redirects you to a page on Nike’s website titled Purpose Moves Us. Here, they recount their efforts to “unite the world through sport to create… an equal playing field for all.” Fight for equality is their larger marketing strategy, and #YouCantStopOurVoice is only a small part of it.

Why it works

  • Social proof. The film features several world-famous athletes, like LeBron James and Odell Beckham Jr. that viewers know, love, and — most importantly — want to be like.
  • On-brand. Athletes are the central part of this one-minute film, which aligns perfectly with what Nike stands for and who it serves. The story is told from their unique angle, making the brand behind the commercial instantly recognizable.

What could be better

  • Could be more consumer-oriented. Though athletes are an obvious choice for a Nike commercial, I’m not sure how much the story about why they decided to pick up the ball resonates with an average viewer. The connection between the story and the viewer’s situation could’ve been made sooner.

2. BFI’s #PressReset

#PressReset campaign

What’s it about

Encouraging authority figures in the screen industry to become more inclusive towards people with disabilities.


Increase representation of disabled people in films and on TV. If you can’t help directly, advocate disabled people’s rights to participate in the screen industry.

Why it works

  • The hashtag. BFI used a branded hashtag #PressReset that caught on on social media and garnered BFI’s posts a ton of views and increased their reach.
  • Raw footage. BFI’s unedited film features several disabled people in the film industry sharing their stories. The authenticity of the conversation and the footage helps viewers connect with the story.

What could be better:

  • No central part. The short film is the largest part of BFI’s #PressReset campaign, but it has brought in just over a thousand views. Compare that to probably millions of people that have seen and used their branded hashtag.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of effort has been put into promoting the film, so it leaves you wondering if it’s relevant at all.

When you search BFI’s posts that include #PressReset on, say, Twitter, you won’t get a lot of info on their mission. Heck, you won’t even find the link to their film. There’s a lot of loose ends that take the audience nowhere.

3. Carlsberg’s Adopt a Keg

Adopt a Keg campaign

What’s it about

Supporting bars in Denmark during the lockdown in partnership with Grey Europe.


Go to Carlsberg’s website and scan the barcodes on four Carlsberg beers in exchange for two free pints of beer.

Why it works

  • Straightforward. This ad wastes no time beating around the bush. The purpose of the ad is clear, and the instructions are laid out in a way that’s easy to digest and follow.
  • Compelling offer. The ad gives the viewer a deal that they can only benefit from. There’s no risk, which is why the offer needs no elaborate introduction.
  • On-brand. This Danish beer brand couldn’t have picked a better way to demonstrate brand activism than equipping Denmark’s bars with free pints of beer.

What could be better

  • Nothing. The entire ad is simple and straightforward, just like their offer, and illustrates the brand values perfectly.

4. Oreo’s #ProudParent


What’s it about

Promoting LGBTQ+ rights in partnership with PFLAG.


Show you’re a #ProudParent.

Why it works

  • Emotional connection. The film does a great job of relaying and triggering emotions. The viewer immediately relates to the hero of the film, Jen, and experiences her struggles with her.
  • Prime storytelling. Instead of communicating their message in a straightforward way like brands in the previous examples, Oreo opts for telling a story the viewer can relate to. Their story features common life situations and family struggles we’re all familiar with. Besides that, the ad follows the classic storytelling formula: beginning-challenge-resolution.

What could be better:

  • No brand connection. Even if you quickly skim through the comments under the video, you’ll notice a lot of people are confused about Oreo’s connection with the cause — or the role of its products in the story. Still, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it helps support the idea that the video isn’t yet another marketing trick, but a genuine call to make a positive change.
  • Unclear CTA. How exactly can one show they’re a proud parent? This part remains a mystery, especially after Oreo took down the website they previously directed their audience to. While the message might be inspiring, Oreo didn’t give the viewer clear instructions on what to do next.

Originally written by me on Medium. Main photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

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