We’ve seen quite a few great marketing campaigns in 2021. Ones to make us laugh, cry, and feel all the emotions in between. From LEGOs to Progressive Insurance to Mercedes Benz, the Ironmark digital marketing team picked out our favorites from this past year that really left a mark on us. Leave us a comment on your favorite campaign below!

Mercedes-Benz “The Valet Guys”

“Mercedes-Benz continues to not only set the benchmark in luxury automotive, but also in head-turning and memorable marketing campaigns. To unveil their new S-Class model with self-driving capabilities (move over Tesla), Mercedes decided to take a trip down memory lane, revisiting their older S-Class models by using the perspective of valet drivers. Titled “Valet Guys”, Mercedes showcases their legacy by using the perspective of valet drivers who sure know how to take a car for a quick spin. When confronted with a car that can park itself, the valet staff is left frozen, calling the new S-Class “sci-fi”. Mercedes flawlessly captures just how far their engineering has come with their reactions.”


Miguel Hernandez, Digital Marketing Specialist

Progressive Insurance “Dr Rick”

Progressive Insurance first introduced Dr. Rick in 2020, BUT the appeal and media push really took off this year. This ad campaign follows Dr. Rick as he helps millennials and Gen Xers avoid becoming their parents when they buy (and insure) their first homes. It’s so smart. They’re delighting cross-generational home buyers by shining a hilarious spotlight on the cold truth about themselves. And Dr. Rick is miles ahead of other insurance companies’ counterpart characters like Liberty Mutual’s LiMu Emu, State Farm’s Jake and also, Progressive’s own Flo. Dr. Rick ads always have me rolling whenever they come on!


Lynne Kingsley, VP of Marketing & Strategic Services

Traeger Grills – “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire sponsored segment on the Fantasy Footballers Podcast”

As much as some folks might not like to hear it, the days of shoving advertising in people’s faces is OVER. Between ad blockers, competing screens during commercial breaks, ad blindness on websites, and other factors, advertising needs to compete for user attention like never before. One of the ways companies combat this is with sponsored ads within content, like ad reading long-form Youtube video creators and ads within podcasts. Alas, with the convenient 10 second skip features in these platforms, it’s easier than ever to skip right on by these, much to advertisers’ dismay.

Enter Traeger Grills; a company that up until encountering this segment I had never heard of before. They worked with a fantasy football-centric podcast, aptly named the Fantasy Footballers Podcast, to have them run a segment called “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire.” The segment is dedicated to analyzing new trends in NFL players to determine if a particularly good performance was a one-and-done scenario (smoke) or if it’s indicative of increased value moving forward (fire).

Now linking football players and pellet-fired grills may sound like a stretch on paper… but what this segment has done better than any other marketing trend I’ve seen in 2021 is provide VALUE. I am not being forced to listen to a marketing spiel on the benefits of these grills for 1-2 minutes, on the contrary - other than a short 15-second intro on the company at the close of the segment, the grills are barely talked about. But here I am remembering an unfamiliar brand with ease because of the repetition of this valuable segment of content that I WANT to know and listen to.

Sure, the market segment that listens to the podcast is likely a valuable one for a BBQ grill company, but I think it marks a trend that other companies should embrace: don’t get in the way of what people want to consume with your product/service, rather integrate it and BE what folks want to consume.”

You can listen to one of the episodes here: https://www.thefantasyfootballers.com/episodes/mid-round-madness-camp-hype-bear-toes/

Tom Owens, Digital Marketing Account Manager

GM Super Bowl Ad

One of the best marketing campaigns of 2021 was definitely the GM Super Bowl commercial featuring Will Ferrell, in which he claims America seeks to surpass Norway for most electric vehicles sold. But equally genius was the University of Norway taking the opportunity to gain exposure and engagement with their video response to the ad. I’m a huge fan of rapid-response marketing. Norway didn’t have the big budget and timeline GM had, yet the piece worked because it was timely and kept them in the conversation. Marketing and advertising doesn’t always have to be a major production…success can be found by merely being in the conversation when the perfect opportunity arises.

GM / Will Ferrell ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdsPvbSpB2Y

Norway’s response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi3JQa1ynDw

Chris McCready, Digital Marketing Account Director


As a kid, I loved LEGO blocks. And while the LEGO brand is everywhere today, including movies, tv, and video games, their core focus is still the blocks themselves. In 2021, they introduced a concept called “retailtainment” in their New York City store that brings the focus back to the blocks. In an age where many are concerned about the issues faced by brick-and-mortar retail spaces, LEGO introduced an innovative, new concept that doesn’t push products on people but engages them, making it worth the in-person experience. People come to the store and have fun, and engage with the brand instead of just browsing to buy. This may provide guidance for other retailers looking to attract people to physical spaces again, and may be the first step in seeing what retail will look like in the future.


Reid Broendel, Digital Marketing Specialist

Spotify Wrapped

Without a doubt, my favorite marketing campaign is Spotify Wrapped. Each year, Spotify creates a personalized report of your listening history and formats the information (like your top played songs) into festive graphics. They then encourage users to share their Spotify Wrapped on social media. Additionally, Spotify takes key data points from the platform-wide listening history and turns them into ads. My personal favorite is “Dear person who played “Sorry” 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?” Ultimately, Spotify Wrapped is a smart marketing campaign. Spotify leverages user relationships and centers personal experience – two strategies that consistently perform well – resulting in a worldwide brand awareness campaign.


Heather Pruitt, Digital Marketing Specialist

Guinness Welcome Back Campaign

My favorite campaign of 2021 was Guinness’ Welcome Back #LooksLikeGuinness campaign.

Guinness made their Welcome Back #LooksLikeGuinness campaign in spring of 2021. This was one of my favorite marketing campaigns of the year because it was so simple, yet so creative. This short video ties in glum and lonely looking scenes across Ireland, but at the center of each shot is an item that resembles a pint of Guinness and even a background that looks like the famous walls of the Guinness Factory in Dublin. Guinness managed to channel how everyone was feeling after an entire year+ in lockdown and finishes the video with a happy group of friends at a pub together. I really liked this video, but what made me love this campaign was that Guinness used it as part of their Raising the Bar initiative, which pledged to give $42m to restaurants and pubs across the UK.


Kate Harris, Digital Marketing Account Manager

Reebok “All Types of Love”

“One of my favorite campaigns this year was Reebok’s “All Types of Love” campaign. The campaign launched during Pride Month and included video interviews, a new fashion line of branded sneakers, and a landing page for customers to go to and immerse themselves in the campaign. This campaign works because it combines stunning visuals with an inclusive message and shows a company giving back to its community of buyers. Especially last year, many companies knew they had to step up when it came to diversity and inclusivity. This campaign shows Reebok understands its position and is bringing many voices together to make sure the company is getting it right. This campaign is effective, it’s long-lasting, and it’s engaging. Really love what they did here.”


Matthew Menter, Senior Marketing Manager

Old Navy “Bod-Equality”

My favorite marketing campaign of 2021 was Old Navy’s Bod-Equality campaign with Aidy Bryant. Not only is Aidy Bryant a comedy queen, but she is now the face of a brand that allows ALL sizes. The song, the fun dancing, and the different shapes and sizes of humans show that we can all shop at one place - Old Navy. The commercial is a “feel good” commercial that makes you want to dance with them. This commercial immediately made me want to go out to my local Old Navy and purchase a pair of stylish jeans. Old Navy always has great commercials and makes all feel welcome with this excellent ad.


Megan Ramey, Digital Marketing Account Manager

Didn’t see your favorite marketing campaign of 2021 above? Make sure you connect with us via social media or post a comment below. We’d love to hear which marketing campaigns of 2021 left an impact on you.

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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