top 5 campaigns of 2017

As the year comes to an end, here at Pretty Pragmatic we have had a look back at the campaigns that caught our eye over the past 12 months.

We have picked out five that are our personal favourites and matched them up with our planning cards from The Strat Pack to understand what stimulated the thinking behind the ads.

1. Snowbird Ski Resort – One Star

This print advert for the Utah Snowbird Ski Resort took a 1-star review and turned it on its head.

The resort is known for its long runs and deep snow, making it unsuitable for inexperienced skiers. The ad ran as a full magazine spread with an image of the complex runs accompanied by a customer’s 1-star review.

As the resort and agency realised, the difficult slopes and terrain is what the resort is renowned for. It may be too challenging for beginners, but it’s what makes the core guests – experienced and advanced skiers – return year after year.

The ad is simple with a beautiful image of the resort being the focus, with the text for the review standing out well to invite a second glance.

The Strat Pack card: Weakness

Here we’ve matched the card ‘Weakness’.

Nobody likes a bad review, but this ad takes the negative and turns it into a positive with their core audience – experienced skiers.

We imagine they thought ‘No it isn’t suitable for amateurs; but if you fancy your skills on the slopes, we’re the course for you!’

2. Instagram – Stories

To launch their latest Stories feature, Instagram ran the campaign ‘Stories are everywhere’, encouraging users to capture their own moments, no matter how small.

Short clips of epic footage from movies, major events, and news are followed by Instagram filmed stories showing how creative and playful people can be with the help of some stickers, brushes, and live film.

One of our favourite parts of the campaign is the fact it was filmed on a smartphone using only the Stories features. No tricks or cheats used. Meaning that everyone can relate to the clips and have a go at being creative themselves.

The Strat Pack card: Benefit

In this instance, we’ve paired this campaign with the ‘Benefit’ card.

Instagram does a good job of exaggerating the benefit of their Stories feature – aligning homemade playful videos with clips from Hollywood epics and landmark events. They encourage their audience to express themselves and put their own stamp on everyday videos.

It doesn’t need to be a perfect. You don’t need expensive recording equipment or a studio, you can still capture your own moments that can be equally as entertaining. It’s this fact, where the Stories clips provide the most memorable and humorous moments in the ad (along with the self-aware tone), that ensures this campaign is credible.

3. Audi – Clowns

Audi’s recent TV ad campaign, ‘Clowns’, was a creative idea of having clowns represent the common road user. It provides a simple and effective way to highlight the amount of technology in Audi’s vehicles that keeps drivers safe from the other “clowns” on the road.

By building on the insight of ‘everyone else is a bad driver, but not me’, Audi’s features are presented less as a crutch to improve your driving (as is the case in many other driver-assist technology campaigns), and more as a way of reducing your risk at the hands of others.

The classy ad is completed with a classical song. Viewers of the advert were encouraged to Shazam the ad, with Audi donating to the charity Brake in support of Road Safety Week every time someone did so.

The Strat Pack card: Enemy

In this instance, Audi was showing not only what they stand against, but also what all other road users can relate to – the “clowns” and bad drivers on the roads.

Audi used this perfectly to portray not only their own technology, but also how safe their cars can make you on the road. Showing how they stand out from the rest, it was clear that Audi made great cars, but were the public aware of how safe and up to date with modern technology they really are? This advert puts the point across effectively with a witty and comical feel.

4. Marks & Spencer – Spend it Well

Marks & Spencer’s campaign ‘Spend It Well’ was launched this year and is much more than just a tagline.

The campaign encourages the audience to more frequently enjoy quality experiences, people, and things that really matter to you.

Marks & Spencer’s carried out a study with Dr Williamson, the Director of Action for Happiness. The study found only 38% of people feel they are currently living life to the full. Marks & Spencer’s used this insight as an opportunity to base their campaign on encouraging customers to better spend their time, money, and experiences.

The aspirational ad consists of various clips of people going against what they would normally do and not holding back. A nod to a bigger theme seen during 2017 of female empowerment, but in the case of M&S, delivered in a way that is authentic to both the brand heritage and their products.

The Strat Pack card: Culture

M&S based their campaign on something very different from what they had done before. Researching into what makes people happy and the cultural tension as to why we aren’t living life the way we want to.

Consequently, they’ve created their own ethos within this campaign that almost everyone can relate to in some form. Inspiring people to live every day as it comes whilst fully embracing the luxuries that are available to us.

5. One Water – Dirty Bottle

One Water, a water brand in the UK, had the idea of a campaign to coincide with World Water Day to raise awareness of those without access to clean drinking water.

One Water added a sleeve to their bottles, making the contents of the bottle appear dirty. It looked far from appealing, but that is exactly the message they wanted to convey.

Highlighting the issue, potentially at the expense of short-term sales, to raise awareness and garner PR.

This comes at a time where many of their water brand competitors are driving their own eco-initiative campaigns with recyclable bottles – and provides an apt reminder of One Water’s differentiated founding principle of putting their profits into clean water projects across the globe.

The Strat Pack card: Purpose

As One Water has shown, there clearly isn’t enough awareness around how many people are without clean drinking water in the world. It’s down to their purpose of trying to resolve the water crisis in many areas around the world and bringing that crisis to life for people who are far removed from the issue.

This was a very clever way to get people talking and to raise awareness of a problem that is still prevalent on a much larger scale than many people in the UK realise.

uk investment insights 2017

Heading into a year of uncertainty, here at Pretty Pragmatic we were interested in what the country was thinking regarding where they would invest their money during 2017.

So in January, we commissioned our own research via Usurv to people in the UK who were in the £40k+ earning threshold.

The big headline finding?

61% are more likely to invest in stocks and shares than property over the coming year.

invest 2017 image 1

The research intended to discover the investment intentions of 200 high earners. A snapshot of respondents’ existing investments showed that stocks and shares and UK property each represented 16% of the average portfolio.

When asked how they would invest during 2017, 32% said it was ‘likely’ or ‘definite’ that they would invest in stocks and shares; the figure was only 17% for UK property.

Long term gain was the top priority for respondents, with 54% citing it as their reason for investing. 17% said their main motivation was the prospect of high returns. Surprisingly, only 11% said that ease of access and liquidity was important to them during a time of such flux.

invest 2017 image 2

Meanwhile, the opportunity to win over customers is definitely present in the market, as over half of respondents said they could save and invest more than they currently do.

invest 2017 image 3

Most respondents (65%) manage and keep track of their investments independently with the help of technology.

However, personal advice is highly valued when it comes to deciding where to make investments. People tend to turn to independent financial advisors (44%) or friends and family (also 44%) for advice.

Financial publications are considered an important resource for 41%, but only 6% use social media to help guide their investments.

invest image 4

These findings indicate that there could be a significant shift in the way people structure investments during 2017. There is a window of opportunity for IFAs to engage investors as they take their first steps into trading or look to increase the percentage of their portfolio that is invested in the stock market.

Meanwhile, this is also a great chance to become the platform of choice to manage these investments via technology and self-service tools.

One driver of this change could be the Brexit vote. The uncertainty we’re facing over the coming months and years may be prompting people to look to the long term, which naturally results in a heavier emphasis on shares.

The ambiguous property market situation could also be a factor. People want to spread their risk and they are also put off by the stamp duty on second properties.

As we see 2017 unfold, the opportunity to win over investors only seems to be growing, as interest rates stay low, and these high earners look to put their money into areas where they are willing to play the long game.

trends to end in 2017

Trends to end

Welcome back to the office – where the coffee isn’t as good (or expensive) as your new Nespresso machine and the emails are yet to build up (after everyone has forgotten their passwords after too much Christmas port).

Whilst the rest of the marketing world write about the trends they predict 2017 will bring, we thought we’d share some of the marketing misgivings that we’d rather see the back of over the next 12 months.


If you’ve sat through much television over the festive break, you’ll have realised how many brands are now just whacking a ‘#’ at the front of their campaign strapline and having it sit at the end of their TV ads.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hashtags, but when they’re bolted on to the back of a 30 second broadcast ad with no social purpose, nothing that people can relate to or are inclined to discuss, then it’s just a brand doing a bit of dad dancing to show they “get” how these ‘social medias’ work.

You know the agency will have been briefed – ‘we need to transfer the viewers online (where we will post the same TV ad on our YouTube channel)’.

If you’re going to use a hashtag in your TV, print or OOH ads, then at least try and make it something people would want to get involved with – even if it’s just a quick skim over on their Twitter feed.

And if you decide to continue with this trend of hashtag-washing, then please try and use it in your radio scripts. It will be a real treat for the ears.

2. M*llenials

I refuse to be another contributor to the lazy stereotyping that uses the M-word. We’ll happily miss out on the SEO-hit of someone searching for the latest M-word article to post on LinkedIn.

Maybe in 2017 we will progress beyond the M-word into new and exciting audience sub-categories. How about ‘Centurions’ (everyone born last century) or ‘Mobile Natives’ (those born after Steve Jobs’ 2007 announcement of the iPhone).

Or how about we make an effort to understand behaviour can be cross-generational, rather than banding people in half-baked age brackets and calling them a marketable segment.

3. Suspect Stats

See almost every piece of brand commissioned research that was used for PR in 2016.

Unfortunately, the motivations of the business often overtake the credibility of the research, resulting in press releases (and press coverage) around stats that are formed by dodgy samples, bias analysis and crafty structuring of the findings.

We love a good stat here at Pretty Pragmatic, but a bit more rigour would be nice in 2017. It could also help brands demonstrate a bit more understanding of the wider world of their customers.

In the meantime, we fully recommend listening to the BBC’s More or Less podcast to give you a weekly update of how manipulative the world of PR statistics has become, and the reality behind the numbers.

4. “Digital First”

If you’re doing digital first, then when do you think about your audience? After the tactics? Oh…

There’s plenty of articles around this time of year with titles like ‘Let’s stop calling it digital marketing, it’s just marketing’ and the like. But this isn’t that point.

This is simply that too often the execution precedes the objective. ‘Digital first’ has become a trendy thing that’s said to look progressive. But, in reality, it indicates a tactical rather than strategic approach to marketing.

Mark Ritson puts it nicely:

So in 2017, let’s put strategy first, tactics second.

5. Big Bad Data

Data’s great. Used properly, you can do interesting and insightful stuff with it. Just take a look at what Spotify recently did with it:


Unfortunately, Spotify is in the minority.

It’s said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and too many marketers (and, to be fair, boards) are trying to make big decisions with misaligned, poorly analysed data and statistics.

Mistaking correlation for causation is to be expected in the early days of working with big data sets, so it’s important to take a step back and look from a different perspective when you do find something that could be a game changer to make sure it stacks up.

A great example of how big data can present false positives is here from They ran food research covering 26 different categories (e.g. left or right handedness), that spanned 1,066 variables, which was then run through 27,716 regressions – of which produced 1,386 false positives. These false positives included: people that regularly consume table salt also having a positive relationship with their internet service provider; and people with ‘innie’ belly buttons being more likely to eat cabbage.

For anyone considering a January detox after recently reading an article related to food research…this article may also be an eye opener!

But brands are now facing the same challenges – where large datasets present extensive ways of gaining insight into customers and business performance.

Yet establishing where data is connected and going beyond just comparing two variables is critical to understand the full picture presented by the information and not just clinging to where the data aligns.

So, in 2017, we hope to see big data analysed properly, rather than looking for shortcuts to find ‘insights’ that can result in big data leading to bad decisions.

In Conclusion

There’s plenty to be optimistic and excited about in 2017, but whilst we’re enjoying all that it has to offer let’s make a resolution to get rid of some of the bad habits that could hold us back over the next 12 months, and put an end to some of these trends.