It’s December. It’s that time of the year, where we all talk about how old we get, now that days, weeks and months just seem to fly by. You probably still remember your January 1st hangover, which makes it even harder to believe that the last month has already arrived. But next to presents, snow and holidays, December has more good things to offer. Because this month, it’s year-end lists time! The time to make notable lists of the year’s best music, movies and books, supposed to help you sort through the insane amount of material produced every year. Only, at this point, by being so bountiful, the lists have become yet one more thing to feel stressed out about to keep up with. And that’s exactly why we have done it for you. The list is divided into different marketing categories, to make it even easier. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we present you the list of most memorable marketing wins and fails of 2013:

Real-time Marketing

Our first winner of today is cookie-producing company Oreo and their Super Bowl tweet. During the annual American championship game of the National Football League, the power went out for a short period. Consequently, people started using social media to express their discontent or just to make the time pass. Oreo, in contrast, quickly send out a tweet with the slogan “Power out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark”. The message caught on almost immediately, being retweeted more than 15,000 times and getting more than 20,000 likes on Facebook. Not quite Madonna’s halftime show numbers, but pretty impressive for a one-off joke made by a cookie.

Ever since Oreo had its big Super Bowl blackout moment, others marketers have tried to capitalize on just about every news and cultural moment. However, whereas Oreo appears to be the shining example of how marketers can use this platform to engage in real-time marketing, AT&T is the perfect example of what not to do. To commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Semptember 11 attacks, many firms send a tweet to the world to show their sympathy. AT&T’s attempt to do so didn’t come over so well, to say at least not at all. The company shared a photo of a phone with a picture of the memorial lights for the Twin Towers on its screen with the caption “Never Forget”. Result: a lot of discussion and criticism of the company for using this tragedy as a failing marketing project.

Cutting the bit fine

Winner: Kmart. Commercial features: a lineup of handsome, boxer-clad young men, jiggling hips and chiming bells. No further explanation needed.

And where Kmart’s commercial finally gets out from underneath Walmart's wake by showing that bells aren’t the only thing jingling, GoDaddy’s is stepping the mark. Words such as gross, sexist and awful have been used to describe Kmart’s new ad, where a painfully uncomfortable kiss between model and nerd archetype illustrates the slogan “smart meets sexy”. It only took 65 takes to get it right – but please, never do this again.

Use of social media

Starbucks. Yes, again, Starbucks did it. I tried to avoid the brand in this list, but it seems like this brand can’t do anything wrong: This year, they launched a program that let consumers buy coffee for their friends on Twitter.  Users just need to link their Starbucks and Twitter account and mention @tweetacoffee to send the gift card to a friend, family, follower or anyone that matters. Rough estimate of sales for Starbucks: $180,000. Sometimes it’s just the most simple ideas that are most effective.

Where its direct competitor Coca-Cola is making millions with their successful Christmas adds, Pepsi completely missed the mark with its Facebook adverts ran on the day of Portugal’s World Cup play-off with Sweden. In one of the adverts, soccer star Ronaldo is depicted as a doll lying on a train track under the caption “We’re going to pass over Portugal”. Another photo showed the doll Ronaldo’s head crushed by a Pepsi can and a third showed it being full of voodoo needles. Portugal responded with an anti-Pepsi Facebook group that gained over 100K fans in day. In addition, thousands of furious Portuguese fans had threatened to boycott the drink. However, Ronaldo had the last laugh as he scored a hat-trick in his side’s 3-2 victory over Sweden. And Pepsi? Nothing more than sincere and profound apologies were left.

Ultimate failure and winner

Winner: Chipotle. There’s not getting around it: the new chipotle ad is amazing. It’s already been called “the most beautiful, haunting infomercial you’ll ever see. And that this commercial is already on a fast-track to become one of this year’s most successful marketing campaigns, is no wonder with Oscar-ready animation with spectacular visual effects wizards. Add that to a powerful anti-factory farming message, and all other adds should just give up.

And, even more important, the ultimate loser..: Nokia. This poor company has had a few rough years after seeing its dominant position in the mobile phone industry being taken by superpowers such as Samsung and Apple. Last month, the pressure became too much for the folks in its local New Zealand office, leading to the ultimate marketing fail of 2013. The company send a mysterious tweet saying “fuck you” .The follow-up tweet saying “contrary to the last tweet, we love our Nokia fan” was already too late: the damage has already been done.


Design: Jozien van der Wal