Branding Strategy Insider | What Makes Brand Advertising Iconic? | Integrated Brand Communications |

Many of us who started in advertising did so I imagine because we saw an ad or a series of commercials that made us dream of creating something that good, something that a whole culture talked about. Recently, the people at Hubspot reached back, took five of the great campaigns and had them reimagined for today.


It was an intriguing exercise. But while the creatives seemed to focus for the most part on how much the channels had changed in the time since the campaigns were forged and the implications of that for execution and campaign distribution, I thought it would be interesting to look at what some of these iconic ad campaigns did that made it possible for them to have such a deep cultural impact in the first place.


What’s clear is that iconic status is not about the nobility of the product. As CNBC observed, AdAge refers to its selection of the top advertising campaigns of the 20th century as including: “two air polluters, nutritionless sugar water, one reviled carcinogen, two companies infamous for the use of virtual slave labor, one purveyor of savory cardiovascular time bombs, two booze peddlers and one cosmetic product preying on the vanity of women.”


Nevertheless, the campaigns are considered paragons of advertising. Why? And more particularly, what can we learn from the success of those campaigns?