While the pandemic brought much of life to a grinding halt in 2020, lockdowns spurred rapid growth for many Direct-to-Consumer brands. With entire populations stuck at home and glued to their devices, there was plenty of opportunity to grab the attention of a captive audience. And now that we’ve finally made it through 2020, we thought the time was right to look back at some of the best DTC ad campaigns of last year, as well as the marketing and brand strategies behind them.
#1. If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, you probably saw the entertaining ad for Dr. Squatch, the California-based personal care company for men. In 2020, the company ratcheted up almost 25 million views for its YouTube ad “Save Your Skin with Dr. Squatch Soap.” The brand earned $100M in revenue in 2020, a more than 350% increase in sales year-over-year for the last two years. According to Josh Friedman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dr. Squatch’s advertising strategy “has and always will be to both entertain and educate men. We want our content to show guys that natural personal care products are the right choice, but in a fun and light-hearted way.”
#2. Heinz may not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of DTC, but the legacy brand jumped on the DTC bandwagon in April 2020 with its Heinz to Home offer, featuring bundles of Heinz favorites such as the “Classic Beanz Bundle,” the “Vegan Bundle” and “The Essentials Bundle.” The initiative was launched early in the pandemic in response to consumer complaints about limited product in stores after consumers began stockpiling. Heinz to Home (available only in the U.K.) saw a 200% increase in sales in Q1 of 2020.
#3. After its controversial ‘Peloton wife’ ad, the fitness brand changed gears with a campaign called “We All Have Our Reasons,” featuring real-life Peloton users instead of actors. In the ads, a schoolteacher, a former NFL player, a military veteran, a baker and a nurse (among others) describe themselves and their reasons for riding with Peloton. The strategy aims to showcase a diverse range of users in different locations, while highlighting the ways they enjoy and benefit from their at-home workouts with Peloton. The brand saw its first quarter sales surge 232 percent and increased its revenue outlook for fiscal 2021 to $3.9 billion+.
#4. Promoting makeup in a year when many people were quarantining at home (and leaving home with half their face covered in a mask) was a tricky proposition. But DTC beauty brand Glossier focused on new self-care products (an exfoliating bar and dry-touch oil mist) for its omnichannel Body Hero campaign. Glossier partnered with eight WNBA stars for the launch. The women offered self-shot videos of their routines and self-care rituals and were interviewed by Marie Claire about their participation in the campaign.
#5. With typical advertisers such as travel companies decreasing spending after catastrophic financial hits to their industry, COVID-19 disruptions have allowed start up DTC brands to reach new audiences on a platform (TV) that would have been unaffordable to them pre-pandemic. Among the DTC brands taking advantage of the opportunity are Trade Coffee, which designs personalized subscriptions and is tempting coffee lovers to keep things interesting at home with their favorite beverage.