5 Creative Ways Brands Capitalized on 2016’s Biggest Trends

With another year comes another slew of trends taking over the Internet.

These digital innovations and silly social media challenges are tempting for marketers hoping to stay socially relevant, but it takes thought, skill and creativity to execute such trendy marketing campaigns effectively.

Now as the end of 2016 fast approaches, let’s take a look at a few of the creative ways marketers capitalized on this year’s digital and Internet trends.


This year’s version of the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Mannequin Challenge was the thing to “break” the Internet this fall. From Hillary Clinton to James Corden and Paul McCartney, big names mimicked the original high-school class’s Mannequin Challenge. But one of the best iterations we saw was from Dove and Ogilvy London, who spun the challenge to make a statement about its “Real Beauty” campaign.

Pokémon Go

Remember this summer when you couldn’t step foot outside without seeing people run wildly into the street, bump into passersby left and right, or frantically enter a random store? Yes, the Pokémon Go phenomenon had kids and adults alike clamoring to “catch” cartoon creatures from the ‘90s and brands clamoring to catch their attention through twists on the game. 

While countless brands tried to capitalize on the craze, one stood out from the rest. With BBH Barn, the British non-profit Missing People created Pokémon Go lookalike posters to raise awareness for real-world missing persons. 

Facebook 360 

This year, Facebook launched 360-degree photos and videos, offering yet another way for brands to engage their audiences on the social platform. One of the most powerful uses of the new innovation came from the Salvation Army’s holiday campaign. Agency Grey Toronto used Facebook 360 photos in sponsored ads to show what’s often hidden in holiday cards. Watch the powerful message above.

Snapchat Advertising

Snapchat had an impressive 2016 and rose to social media dominance as advertisers flocked to the platform to attempt to out-snap each other. One of the most memorable? Part of its #makethefuture campaign for sustainable energy, Shell released an interactive music video on Snapchat, featuring artists like Jennifer Hudson, Steve Aoki, Luan Santana and more. A customizable version of its popular Facebook video—which has gained more than 81 million views—the Snapchat ad is meant to engage a younger audience and educate them about renewable forms of energy. Check out a version here.

U.S. Election

To many, the 2016 presidential election was the election cycle that would never end, and much of the year was populated with news, memes, SNL sketches and ads highlighting the campaigns.

But even though our media intake seemed to be saturated with the election by the time the debates rolled around, Audi and Venables Bell & Partners managed to make an election-themed spot that was subtle and entertaining enough to break through the noise. Watch “Duel” above and see if you can spot all the nods to this year’s contentious presidential election. 

Find more on the year in creativity here