Six communications stand-outs that won the year

Some of my favorite campaigns are innovative, some are emotional, some are issues-oriented - and some are all three.

As 2014 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on my favorite communications efforts. My shortlist runs the gamut: some are innovative, some are emotional, some are issues-oriented – and some are all three. Here are six that really stood out to me.

The #LikeAGirl campaign
Always, the Procter & Gamble feminine products brand, made its mission – to empower young women and to begin to dismantle the "self-esteem crisis" – come to life in a powerful video about acting "like a girl."

Through documentary-style interviews, the video exposes the associations that adult men and women have with the phrase (negative, powerless, silly) and juxtaposes them against the athletic, empowered, and inspiring things young girls say and do when they hear the term. (The girls didn’t yet recognize that being "like a girl" is an insult in our society). The video is heart-breaking and then hopeful and inspiring.

Any campaign that can expose something so ingrained in our culture and our language and make us question and challenge it (and cry and laugh in the process) is a winner in my book. Fifty-three million people viewed the video on YouTube, it lit up social channels and it was the subject of much media attention.

The Asics marathon campaign
Innovative, personalized, shareable, awesome. What more do I need to say? Asics honored this year’s runners by making individualized statues of them with 3-D printing technology. The first 500 people to submit headshots got a mini-me. Asics’ team photographed each statue in locations along the course then linked the photos with the runners’ Facebook accounts and their RFID chips. When runners passed the locations in real life, their Facebook pages auto-posted providing progress updates to family and friends. For the people who didn’t make the first cut on the statues, Asics held a virtual marathon on Twitter and every tweet by marathoners advanced them along the digital running path. The first 50 to finish got their statues made as well. #MindBlown.

Michael Sam’s public revelation
In February, then-NFL prospect Michael Sam publicly came out as gay in a well-orchestrated series of interviews. He made sports and cultural history bravely taking control of his story with in-depth and moving pieces in The New York Times, ESPN, and OutSports.com. My favorite part though was the un-orchestrated, wholly authentic response by long-time Dallas-based broadcaster Dale Hansen. Wow.

#WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft
I feel like this was the year user-generated Twitter campaigns really gained momentum. #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, a conversation about domestic violence in the wake of the Ray Rice video, was among the most powerful. In response to the former Baltimore Ravens player punching out his fiancée in an elevator, women everywhere came forward to shed light on how complex the issue of domestic violence is and to share their own stories. The posts are chilling, heart-wrenching and awe-inspiring.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Do I even need to explain this one? The Ice Bucket Challenge swept the nation and became a massive viral hit. Ultimately, it brought in over $115 million for ALS research. Here’s a PRWeek piece I wrote on lessons from the success.

The Holderness family
It started last holiday season with a wacky and hilarious "Xmas Jammies" video. Fifteen million video views and many national broadcast appearances later and the family was in business – quite literally.

Penn Holderness, the goofy dad in the video, quit his job as a news anchor at a station in Raleigh to help his wife Kim build her promotion and production company. They used the music video to break the news and spread the word about their skills. Since Xmas Jammies they’ve created a bunch of others (around back-to-school, trick-or-treating, and Thanksgiving dinner) and they’ve fielded a flood of corporate video work.

Naturally, all the attention has sparked comments from vocal detractors and assorted killjoys, but The Holderni don’t seem to care. A couple days ago, they landed a reality show deal – just in time for Christmas. 

Victoria Grantham is the MD of RoseComm, a boutique, woman-owned communications agency. Find her on Twitter at @vgrantham.

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