For too long, creative B2B campaigns have stood in the shadows while consumer brands have been at the forefront of the creativity curve. Consumer brands are renowned for pushing creative boundaries. They surprise us with unique partnerships and collaborations and produce some of the world’s most loved content.
Consumer brands and consumer-focused agencies have benefited from their illustrious client portfolios of sports brands, FMCG, fashion, automotive, and beauty brands. People want to work for them, and clients want to work with them. These brands are the firm favourites at industry workshops, presentations, keynotes, and university lecture halls.
If I asked you to name some of the greatest campaigns of all time, I would no doubt hear familiar responses. Brands may include Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’, Oreo’s ‘Super Bowl Black-Out’, Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Can Smell Like’, Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’, Snickers ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ or anything involving Red Bull hurling people off spaceships, helicopters, and mountains. The list could go on… and on… and on.
Why does B2B or even government always seem to fall to the back of the creativity queue?
The thing is, B2B doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) mean boring to boring when ultimately, it should be about human-to-human engagement.
When you look at the research, you’ll find that B2B decisions are some of the most important and emotional decisions a human will make. They can transform your career, whether it’s being recognised at work, hitting targets, getting promoted, or securing that bonus or pay rise. No one wants to be the person who signed off on the desk chairs that everyone hates or the person who spent hundreds of thousands of company dollars and time to implement software no one uses.
There are more than 40 different decision-making factors that a person working in B2B will consider. This is significantly more than if a person were to choose what chocolate bar to buy, for example.
These 40 different B2B decision-making factors start at the functional basics and extend up to your company’s vision and mission. They include:
- Meeting criteria
- Quality (materials, service, final product)
- Time savings / reduced effort
- Risk reduction
- Reduced anxiety
- Fun and perks
- Personal development
- Network expansion
- Reputational assurance
- Business marketing benefit
B2B companies are beginning to take notice of the world around them.
Whether it is a result of the pandemic or simply a ‘coming of age’, B2B brands are having their own revolution. The B2B brands we work with are revamping their websites, asking for creative social media campaigns, investing in SEO, allocating budget for advertising, and hiring internal marketing expertise.
Secondly, B2B and tech start-ups are not just embracing marketing, they are actively working to get noticed in the marketplace. According to netshop, statistically, around 1.35 million tech-start ups launch each year. That’s a lot of B2B… and a lot of B2B noise. Generating cut-through in the B2B world is now a matter of (business) life and death for brands in this crowded space.
B2B campaigns and B2B marketing have the power to engage people in a way that B2C does not. We’ve seen some excellent examples of B2B campaigns – big and small over the years.
So what do great B2B creative campaigns look like?
Here 7 examples of some of the greatest B2B creative and marketing campaigns.
B2B work management software brand Workday has clearly invested heavily in its 2023 marketing. Their creative 2023 Superbowl commercial features some of the world’s greatest (living)rock stars. Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Clark Jr., Joan Jett, Billy Idol, and Paul Stanley send a message to the corporate world about the use of the word ‘rock star’ in this humorous 60-second ad. Kitting out Ozzy Osbourne in a work shirt and tie is inspired.
Workday – Rock Star – B2B Creative Campaign
Back when having an unusual name for your tech start-up meant some unavoidable confusion over the actual correct name, MailChimp decided to lean into the problem for their first-ever campaign. In this “compare the meerkat” style creative execution, ‘Did You Mean MailChimp?’, MailChimp created videos centred around funny versions of their brand name, including “fail chip”, “snail primp”, “mail shrimp”, “jail blimp”. It may well be the first and last time we ever saw a singing prawn in a prawn sandwich.
The campaign went beyond TV advertising. Multiple spin-off campaigns were launched, including “Nail Champ”, – a nail art competition, “Whale Synth”, an opportunity for budding musicians to create music out of whale songs, and “Male Crimp”, which even managed to engage London Fashion Week.
MailChimp’s goal was to stand out from the crowd and be memorable. Did the creative execution deliver? Absolutely. Did everyone know their correct name by the end of the campaign? Possibly not. Did it make their B2B target audience take notice? Whether they liked the campaign or not, almost certainly.
MailChimp – Did You Mean MailChimp – B2B Creative Campaign
In 2019 Shopify launched its first-ever brand campaign, ‘Let’s Make You A Business’, to reach the independent business market in the USA and Canada. The campaign ran across TV, digital, OOH, Radio, and social media with a creative execution that spoke directly to their target audience.
Shopify – B2B Creative Campaign – TV Advertising – Let’s Make You A Business
Shopify – B2B Creative Campaign – Outdoor Advertising – Your Mom Should Be Your First Customer, Not Your Only Customer
Shopify – B2B Creative Campaign – Outdoor Advertising – Let’s Make What You Do For Fun, What You Do For A Living
Ambev, Faces of Carnival – Supporting Street Vendors During the Pandemic – Brasil
Ambev, formally Companhia de Bebidas das Américas, is a Brazilian brewing company now merged into Anheuser-Busch InBev. During the pandemic, Ambev’s street vendors were hit hard when the biggest event of the year, Carnival, was called off.
Ambev leapt into action, creating an online platform to engage with the traders, allowing them to sell beverages without leaving their homes. The solution allowed street vendors to turn social media into street corners and earn a commission for anyone who purchased through their unique QR code. The brand passed on discounts and free delivery to the consumer to further incentivise them. Ambev also went one step ahead, purchasing outdoor advertising where the street vendors would usually be located during carnival and promoting their codes.
It might not be your traditional B2B campaign, but it won Ambev multiple awards and nominations and showed itself to be a trusted business partner for the street vendors who rely on them.
Ambev – Faces of Carnival – B2B Creative Campaign
Not the most recent of Slack campaigns, but still a great example, as well as an example that has been emulated by many SaaS tech brands over recent months and years. Yes, it’s the client success video… but funny.
Client success stories are a cornerstone of great B2B marketing. However, they are often tricky to use in mass media due to client confidentiality, legal red tape, or simply because maybe the client rosta isn’t quite yet impressive enough. It did help that Sandwich (who make ads not sandwiches) were Slack’s agency at the time. Another common getaround is the ‘spoof client success video’ – but perhaps that’s a post for another day.
There is no doubt that humour is a universal language that works to generate attention and discussion. And maybe just a bit of brand love – even for B2B. In fact, one person’s comment on this video exclaims, “Holy c#@p! This easily the MOST engaging and entertaining video for a SaaS application ever! I have seen and briefly considered using Slack for my little start up (there are only 4 of us). But I never really gave it a chance. I read a few pages and didn’t understand the product and said ‘meh’.”
Watch the video here:
Slack – So, Yea, We Tried Slack, Sandwich Company – Creative B2B Campaign
Whoooo? Yes, fair question. SA Consultants are this list’s example of ‘you don’t have to have a million bucks to run a creative campaign’. (Although it helps).
SA Consultants set up businesses in the UAE. I’m almost certain that this hasn’t featured as a goal profession for any small child looking towards their future. Nonetheless, SA Consultants’ content has amassed over 350k likes on TikTok through their memorable, quirky, humorous approach to thought-leadership.
SA Consultants – Thought-Leadership on TikTok – Creative B2B Campaign
Registering a Business in Dubai
@sa.consultants More and more businesses registering in Dubai every year🤯📈 Here’s why☝️ #dubai #business #london #uk #entrepreneur ♬ original sound – SA Consultants
100% Business Ownership
@sa.consultants Will you have 100% ownership in your business in Dubai?🤔🇦🇪 #london #dubai #business #company ♬ original sound – SA Consultants
Tapping into TikTok trends.
@sa.consultants Hmm, who’s that?🤨 Anyway, we are the best😎✅💼 #dubai #business ♬ original sound – SA Consultants
If you are looking to be more creative with your B2B campaigns or want help with your marketing strategy, communications strategy, or marketing strategy, then here at Bright Company, we would be happy to help. We’ve created strategies and campaigns for hundreds of brands that have helped companies achieve their goals. Whether your goal is to drive awareness of your brand, change perceptions, drive leads, sell tickets, reach niche audiences, or anything else in between. We also do a whole lot more besides strategy and campaign development, so if you’ve got a strategy you don’t know how to implement, a project brief you need help with, or a challenge you aren’t sure how to solve, then contact us. We’d love to hear from you.