Top 10 Influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2017

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December 21, 2017
Adam Marquardt Adam Marquardt


Taco filters, banana solar eclipses, and pussy hats, oh my. Welcome, friends, to Adhere Creative’s Top 10 Most Influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns for 2017!

It’s been one wild year in the world of social media marketing campaigns. We saw marketing teams coming up with some of the most creative—and humorous—campaigns yet, some of which rival what we saw in 2013's2015’s and 2016’s Top 10 Influential Social Media Marketing Campaign lists. In addition to these advertising feats of strength, you’ll notice a continued focus to promote social causes on social media platforms. Some of these campaigns were true grass-root movements, while others were driven by companies.

But enough with the introduction. Let’s jump straight into our 2017 most influential social media campaigns, starting with number one on our list, GE’s Balance the Equation campaign.

1. GE’s Balance the Equation Campaign

Back in February of this year, GE announced they would work to fill 20,000 new STEM roles with female hires by the year 2020. If successful, GE would be the largest tech company in America to claim a 50:50 ratio of male-to-female employees working in technical entry-level positions.

It’s a bold, ambitious goal. But it won’t be easy. According to research out by the annual Women in Tech report, women hold at most 25% of all computing jobs. And GE’s own research paints an even harsher picture, with IT and engineering programs worldwide comprised of just 13%-24% women. To ensure they meet their objective, GE is pulling out all the stops with their marketing efforts. And one of their most creative campaigns to date is their Balance the Equation campaign, featuring National Medal of Science in Engineering winner, Millie Dresselhaus.
GE portrays Millie Dresselhaus as a superstar, with her face plastered on magazines and billboards. Millennials run up to her to take selfies. She’s got a line of dolls and even an emoji face. Nice!
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather watch a reality TV show about Millie Dresselhaus than another season of the Kardashians. I think GE may be on to something…

While there is no data quite yet on how many women GE has hired, the campaign should still be considered a success. Between GE’s #BalanceTheEquation hashtag and its website, the company has secured thousands of retweets and comments, all while making inroads with younger girls who could one day become the STEM experts of tomorrow.

2. Chiquita Banana’s Solar Eclipse

Timing is everything when it comes to influential marketing campaigns. I mean…when the power went out in the Superdome during Superbowl XLVII, and Oreo brought down the house with its single well-timed dunk-in-the-dark tweet? I cry every time I see it. It was my screen saver for, like, years.
This year, it was Chiquita that took advantage of the dark, only this time it was due to the much anticipated solar eclipse which made its way across the U.S. on August 21st of this year.


“On the path of totality, you will see two distinct banana suns. The total eclipse occurs in between the two banana suns as a sort of lackluster intermission.”


In a moment of marketing brilliance, which was almost too bright to stare at directly, Chiquita took full credit for the 2017 solar eclipse, dubbing the sun’s crescent shape the Banana Sun. For three weeks, starting on August 7th, the company went straight up bananas, creating gifs, a website, and a massive glowing banana which they unveiled on August 20th near the Flatiron Building in NYC. 

Thanks to the Banana Sun, Chiquita managed to garner thousands of new Twitter followers, hundreds of comments on its Banana Sun GIFs, and tens of thousands of retweets. At least two of the company’s solar eclipse videos were viewed over a million times.

What can I say? We’ve come a long way from corporate dictatorships run by banana companies my friends. This is what I call progress. 

3. J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey Relief

Hurricane Harvey was the costliest Atlantic hurricane to ever hit the United States, with damages estimated at almost $200 billion dollars. Many homes were unsalvageable, forcing millions of American families onto the streets.  But in the peak of the crisis, some individuals and organizations rallied behind Harvey’s victims, in what has become one of the strongest showings of charity fundraising in American history. Embed from Getty Images

Enter J.J. Watt, defense star for the Texans. Watt set up his own Houston Flood Relief Fund on his personal website, then took to social media to announce the effort. The results were immediate. His original goal of $200,000 was blown apart as millions of donations poured in thanks to the efforts of social heavy hitters like Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres, along with others such as hip-hop star Drake and Tennessee Titans owner, Amy Adams Strunk.

There are not enough words to thank you all for your generosity. If there is one thing I have taken away from these last few weeks, it is the reassurance of how much good is out there in our world.” –J.J. Watt

In total, some $37 million was donated in just three weeks! It just goes to that social can be a force for good, and not just for selfies, lolcats, and well-timed salt bae memes.

4. Astros’ Earn It

1920x1080_earnit.jpgCan the promotion of a new slogan lead a major league baseball team to victory? Even one which has not once clutched a World Series in the 112 years of the league’s existence? As unlikely as that sounds, it may have played a role in the Houston Astros stunning and triumphant 4-3 win over the L.A. Dodgers in 2017’s World Series finals.  

“Earn It” first appeared in off-season, before the team had even set foot on a spring training field. It galvanized the team’s supporters, who took to social media to promote the pithy and ambitious new mantra. And who can blame them for being excited? If your last slogan was Root! Root! Root!, you can only get better from there.

And get better they did. As the season progressed, the number of Google searches for the Astros continued to skyrocket.

Earn It is one of those divinely inspired slogans that hits you harder than a Chapman fast ball. Not since Just Do It has a mantra worked so effectively to command attention…and maybe win a team a World Series.

5. KFC’s 11 Herbs and Spices

full-width-kfc-portrait-2017-1117x660.jpgI was so depressed over Norm MacDonald’s exit as the KFC colonel, I couldn’t eat fried chicken for months. Months. But then the company goes and creates one of the best social stunts of 2017?

Let’s just say I see a drumstick in my near future.

In September of this year—unbeknownst to fried chicken lovers everywhere—KFC’s creative shop, Weiden+Kennedy, started following 11 people on Twitter: the five original Spice Girls, and six dudes named Herb. Now, that isn’t exactly noteworthy by itself. But when you connect the dots to KFCs secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices, you suddenly see where KFCs marketing team was going with this.

It took about a month, but one Twitter sleuth finally figured it out:

Mike Edgette, a social media manager for TallGrass Public Relations, had without knowing it struck twitter gold. His single comment generated hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets, creating an explosion of activity for KFCs twitter feed. KFC, capitalizing even more on the publicity, painted Edgette a portrait of him riding on Colonel Sander’s back with a chicken drumstick in his hand. Which he again shared for tens of thousands more views and retweets!   

This is where some patience, and maybe a little luck, can go a long way toward creating a viral social movement. “We planted this on Twitter over a month ago,” said Freddie Powell, creative director at Wieden+Kennedy. “Frankly, we weren’t sure if anybody was going to find it. Sometimes you just have to put stuff out into the universe and cross your fingers that the internet will work its magic.”

6. Spotify’s New Year’s Resolution Campaign


It’s that time of the year again. Everybody is dusting off their gym memberships and smoking their “last” pack of cigarettes before the New Year. And much like last year and the year before, companies will create marketing campaigns around this New Year’s theme.

But very few of them will come close to making those resolutions as enjoyable as Spotify.

For a few years running, the company has departed from its digital roots to take to the streets with a creative end-of-year OOH marketing campaign. The campaign shares some of the company’s most humorous user data, which it then turns into next year’s resolutions. And this year’s “It’s Been Weird” theme will be larger than ever, encompassing 14 markets around the world, and requiring the assistance of 70+ artists to create over 100 billboards assets.
According to Spotify CMO Seth Farbman, the company is better served with an end-of-year campaign featuring billboards than, say, banner ads. “We are using out-of-home in a way that is less traditional,” he said. “Out-of-home gives that hyperlocality that gives those “aha” moments to people. And it allows a digital community to feel connected in a physical way. This is happening here. We’re all seeing this and remembering this moment together.”

This year’s campaign will feature artists like Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Niall Horan, and Big Shaq, and will run both here in the States and across the pond in the UK.

7. #WomensMarch


Hope you’ve all got your pussy hats on hand. Because #7 on our list of top 10 influential social media events for 2017 is the women’s march, a protest movement that exploded onto the scene thanks to viral social media hype.

In early 2017, a number of Facebook pages protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump began to receive wide attention. As the pages increased from a few hundred to tens of thousands of followers, it became apparent to many that consolidation, and then mobilization, was an absolute must.

Leaders of the movement focused their attention on a march on Washington D.C., and used the twitter hash #womensmarch to spread the word. Within days, the grass-roots movement had exploded to hundreds of thousands of followers. Not only did it lead to a march of nearly half a million people in D.C., it created dozens of sister protests around the country.

8. Kellogg’s Eggo Campaign

The cult hit Stranger Things released a brand new second season just a few months back, and it has everything an obsessed fan could want. The whole gang back together? Check. Synthesizers? Check.  Samwise Gamgee? Check. Eggos? Check.

Ah yes, Eleven’s favorite snack makes more appearances than ever in Season 2. And the marketing team over at Kellogg’s—to their credit—took advantage of the free plug, by creating a fresh, buttery new campaign called “Eggos” to capitalize on all the delicious publicity.

Kellogg’s began talks with Netflix before the airing of the second season. The result of the partnership was a small series of advertisements which appeared during the premier of Stranger Things 2.  Best of all, Kellogg’s social team was ready to capitalize on the hype. Armed with humorous GIFs, the #StrangerThings hashtag, and more images of Eleven scarfing down the iconic 80’s waffle than they knew what to do with, the social team managed to come up with some weapon’s grade tweeting that earned them thousands of new online followers.

9. Local Businesses Everywhere Nailing It with Social Media

Unconventional, I know. Number 9 on our list kinda reminds me of how back in 2006 Time Magazine made “You” their Person of The Year. A little vague, sure. I still tell people I was on the cover of Time magazine. Nobody ever believes me.


But that’s not the only reason I’m dredging up that old Time magazine from ten years ago. “You” is a reference to how everybody was becoming somebody on social media. And small businesses especially have come a long way toward mastering social media from a decade ago. 

This year, local businesses have taken on social media like never before, many times outshining even the cleverest 5th Avenue ad agencies with some of the stuff they come up with. Goliath companies which can spend large sums on massive ad buys and sleek commercials do not have the same leverage when it comes to social media, which is more about authenticity and consistent messaging.

Even more important, social media is about getting a message out quickly to customers interested in your business. Smaller companies are often significantly more agile than their larger counterparts, which gives them the advantage when it comes to fighting off negative reviews or, delivering incredibly good news, like how you were on the cover of Time magazine.

Why have so many local businesses turned to Facebook and the like for their local advertising? Because of the cost, the simplicity, and the incredible targeting capabilities of course! We are seeing many of our local business clients find double, triple, the ROI from Facebook advertising in 2017. Now go get some of that!


10. Cisco’s Cisco Champions

Cisco-Champions-Banner-V2.jpg .jpg

The networking and technology conglomerate Cisco Systems makes it onto our list this year, and for good reason. The company’s use of influencer marketing to drive sales is paying off in a big way in 2017. And at the forefront of this effort is their Cisco Champions Program, a marketing campaign which offers incentives for its community of IT advocates and experts.

By giving back to the people who run its technology and networking platforms on a daily basis, Cisco can use the experience and advocacy of these individuals to harness powerful promotional content for its brand. The company provides free education, access to new products, recognition to engineers and more. All they ask in return is for these Cisco Champions to share their stories and experiences with Cisco Systems over social media.

The results have been incredible. To date, Cisco Champions has generated tens of thousands of new tweets and thousands of social media mentions across platforms such as Facebook and elsewhere.

And that’s a wrap for 2017’s Top 10 Influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns. If one of these campaigns stuck out to you, don’t hesitate to let us know! And keep an eye out for next year’s Top 10 Most Influential list, which is sure to be as colorful—or even more so—than this year’s!

Like this article?

Check out our picks for the top marketing campaigns in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.