The Best PR Campaigns of 2022
To round off the year, we cast an eye back over some of the best PR campaigns of 2022.
And 2022 has been quite a year. Queen Elizabeth II died after a historic 70-year reign, we’ve had no less than three UK Prime Ministers, the cost of living has skyrocketed, and industrial action caused public relations headaches for Royal Mail, National Rail, and the NHS, to name a few.
But we’re not here to talk about all the things that went wrong. Tis’ the season to be jolly, after all. (Although If you’ve had enough festive cheer, and would rather read about public relations blunders, check out: Some of the Worst PR Campaigns of All Time. Bah humbug.
The best PR campaign examples 2022
From toy makers and game creators to social media platforms and ‘soap stars’, our list of recent PR campaigns in 2022 is a varied one.
We’re going to kick off with what we believe to be the best PR campaign 2022 gave us. And it comes from the kindly folk at LEGO.
LEGO: MRI? Child’s play
If you’ve ever had an MRI scan, you’ll know they’re not fun. The scanners are huge, intimidating pieces of machinery and they’re also very noisy.
A scan can take up to 90 minutes, during which time you have to lie perfectly still, while strapped to a bed. For a young child, it can be a scary experience.
In February 2022, the LEGO Foundation announced it was sending 600 mini LEGO models of MRI scanners to hospitals across the globe.
The kits, which featured different rooms, plus LEGO minifigures of a patient in the scanner, and a doctor checking the results, were designed to ease children’s anxieties when faced with an MRI.
They also developed a series of videos to support clinicians in using the model to facilitate role play and dialogue with anxious children.
In the press release, LEGO explain the thinking behind the models: ‘By playing with [the model] before their scans (guided by hospital staff), children get a feel for the room they’ll be in and the machine they’ll face. And, by putting the LEGO minifigure through the model scanner first, children can take control and learn what to expect at the same time.’
The LEGO Foundation encouraged hospitals to apply for one of the 600 models, which were built by LEGO volunteers and shipped free of charge.
Best PR campaign takeaway
The best PR campaigns are creative, impact the community in a positive way and leave a lasting impression of a brand.
This campaign ticked all three boxes because:
- LEGO found a creative way to fulfil a specific need
- The resulting product was donated to hospitals around the world – for free.
- The positive impact of their goodwill will be seen and felt by kids, parents, and doctors for years to come.
LEGO didn’t benefit financially from the project, but by giving back, they’ve done wonders for their brand image and are reaping the rewards in terms of customer loyalty.
A worthy winner of PR Superstar’s ‘Best PR Campaign 2022’.
Gymshark: Taking a bite out of mental health stigma
Champions of physical and mental health, British fitness apparel and accessories brand Gymshark brought awareness to men’s mental health with a creative PR stunt in summer 2022.
In July, the brand opened a unique pop-up barbershop in East London.
Called ‘Deload’ the shop was a safe space where men could go to ‘offload’ to mental health-trained barbers, while getting a free haircut.
The idea behind the temporary space emerged after brand research found that while men find it difficult to talk about how they’re feeling, they often open up to their barber.
In addition to the complimentary trims, Gymshark sold products from its exclusive ‘Deload Barbershop’ merchandise collection and donated all the proceeds to the charity, (Campaign Against Living Miserably) CALM.
An additional part of the initiative saw Gymshark host mental health panel talks across two evenings, with representatives from CALM, as well as Gymshark ambassador athletes and influencers.
‘Deload’ barbershop is part of Gymshark’s larger ‘Deload’ mental health initiative, which has seen the brand partner with charities on either side of the pond including JED (The Jed Foundation) in the US, and the UK’s CALM, to deliver mental health support through various platforms.
Best PR campaign takeaway
Gymshark didn’t profit from this campaign, which goes to show that they’re genuinely dedicated to improving mental health. They also highlighted an important (and often underestimated) connection between mental health and gender stereotypes with this thoughtful campaign. Data from CALM shows that 84% of men in the UK have admitted to bottling up their emotions because they don’t want to worry anyone (43%) or want to deal with their feelings alone (49%).
Mental health is still a taboo subject for many. Popular brands like Gymshark bringing the topic to the forefront of people’s minds can only make conversations around our emotional wellbeing easier.
However, not all of them get it right.
Case in point, Burger King, whose ‘Real Meals’ campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month in 2019 caused a backlash, with many accusing the fast-food chain of trivialising mental health issues and using depression to sell burgers.
Unlike Burger King, Gymshark’s campaign was thoughtful, innovative and customer centric.
The lesson for businesses is this: if you’re going to use mental health as the basis for a public relations campaign, make sure you do it for the right reasons.
The Deload Barbershop landed Gymshark heaps of positive PR. And the praise is justified. It’s another mark of the brand’s commitment to encourage positive mental wellbeing among their followers and community – something that’s ingrained in the brand’s DNA.
LinkedIn: You’ve got females
The folks at LinkedIn did a little research and found that:
- 43% of women think they’d be more successful if they had a workplace role model.
- 55% say there is still a lack of relatable role models in the workplace.
- 76% believe that relatable role models should be more visible.
- 57% say having a relatable role model is crucial to career success.
- 70% say it’s easier to be like someone you can see.
These findings inspired their ‘Follow in Her Footsteps’ campaign, which ran alongside the company’s sponsorship of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.
LinkedIn called on its community to give a shout out to the female role models that have inspired them, using the hashtag #FollowInHerFootsteps.
The campaign ran online and OOH, kicking off with a video documenting women’s football through the years.
LinkedIn teamed up with Carol Thomas, the first captain to lead England’s women’s team to a European final, to showcase how far the women’s game has come.
As part of the campaign, Carol made the 30-mile walk from Gresty Road in Crewe (home of the first ever Euros match) to Old Trafford, where the opening match of the 2022 tournament took place.
The campaign garnered over 100 million impressions across two weeks and gave the professional social media network’s reputation a huge boost. LinkedIn? More like LinkedWin.
Best PR campaign takeaway
Pushing out surveys and gathering data is fine and dandy. But it’s what you do with the data that matters.
LinkedIn took the information they collected and turned it into a killer, topical public relations campaign that promoted the importance of healthy female role models.
The campaign triggered high levels of engagement and gave the brand a big lift. Plus, it made a positive contribution to the conversation around the value and impact of women in the workplace.
A perfect example of a well-timed, well-executed public relations campaign. And it all started with a simple survey.
While we’re on the subject of surveys, be sure to check out: How to Carry Out the Perfect PR Survey.
Dove: Be yourself, not your selfie
In 2022, beauty brand Dove asked 1,500 girls between the ages of 10 and 17 a series of questions about self-esteem and social media. Among the findings, one in two girls said toxic beauty advice on social media causes low self-esteem.
The research concluded that most of the girls realised that less time on social media and taking control of who they follow is part of the solution. In fact, seven in 10 girls felt better after unfollowing idealised beauty content on social media.
The results of the research inspired Dove’s ‘Detox Your Feed’ campaign, which aimed to empower teenagers to define their own standards of beauty by unfollowing social media accounts that prevent them from feeling good about themselves.
One of the most impactful parts of the campaign came in the form of a video created in partnership with advertising company Ogilvy.
‘Toxic Influence’ featured mums and their teens engaging in a dialogue around harmful beauty advice on social media. They covered topics like ‘fitspo,’ ‘thinspo’ and the promotion of elective cosmetic procedures to young girls.
The mums were surprised to learn that this type of harmful beauty advice has become normalised for their daughters. As a result, they were inspired to have important conversations around what their daughters are seeing in their feeds.
#DetoxYourFeed followed up on the success of Dove’s ‘Reverse Selfie’ campaign in 2021 – both of which form part of their long running Self-Esteem Project.
The Toxic Influence video currently has 3.1 million views on YouTube, and if you scroll down through the comments, you’ll find it’s been very well received. For example:
- ‘I saw this in movie theatres and I legit teared up. This is powerful.’
- ‘Big respect to Dove for spreading awareness.’
I think we can safely say the campaign has been a success. With comments like that, we don’t need a campaign report to measure its impact. A clean win for the soap makers.
Best PR campaign takeaway
If this post was titled ‘good PR campaigns 2022’, Dove’s ‘Detox Your Feed’ wouldn’t be on it. Why? Because it’s much better than good – it’s inspired.
The best public relations campaigns start meaningful conversations and have a positive impact on society. Dove does that over and over again. The fact the brand continues to put out inspirational self-esteem campaigns year after year shows they’re committed to making a difference and they’re in it for the long haul. They’re masters of cause marketing.
The lesson? As a business, putting your weight behind a cause you truly believe in will do far more for your brand than any thirty-second TV ad.
Before #DetoxYourFeed and #ReverseSelfie, there was Dove’s ’Real Sketches’. Learn more by reading: Famous PR Campaigns.
CPB London: Sticking it to the man
Next up, creative advertising agency CPB (Crispin Porter Bogusky) London, who launched their ‘Imagine’ campaign for International Women’s Day.
The intention was to get us to explore our personal biases when it comes to gender.
‘Imagine a CEO. Is it a man?’
‘Imagine someone crying in the office. Is it a woman?’
These are just two of the questions posed on posters across the UK, which drew inspiration from a study that found 39% of primary school children think mums should look after babies and do the housework while dads go off to work. (It’s not their fault, they’re kids.)
The campaign was bold, direct, and pretty darn successful, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response and generating:
- Over 4.7 million impressions
- More than 250,000 engagements on social media
- Organic engagement of 10.28%
Our gender perceptions may be a bit skewed, but the numbers aren’t. Congrats, CPB. Nicely done.
Best PR campaign takeaway
Authentic, transparent, and impactful. CPB London’s ‘Imagine’ was all three.
As human beings, we’re not fond of looking inward and examining our faults. But this campaign made people do just that and learn something about themselves in the process.
This campaign could have easily backfired, but CPB took a gamble, and it paid off.
It’s a great example of how a straightforward, blunt, and daring campaign can be good for business, get people talking, and make a positive impact at the same time.