Who were 2018's social media stars – and what you can learn from the losers

We asked around the agency to discover the social media campaigns that caught our creatives’ attention this year for the right – and wrong – reasons. Read, learn… and squirm

What were they thinking?

How many times have you said that this year when a major brand (which should really know better) makes a monumental – and usually detrimental – misjudgement on one of its social media feeds. Or course, there are plenty of other times when a brand posts content that’s just so brilliant it stops you in your tracks. Here’s our round up of some of the best – and worst – examples from 2018. 

Gershon Portnoi, Editor-in-Chief The Locker:
The US airforce trying to cash in on Yanny/Laurel viral, by making light of an air drop in which there were civilian casualties was a lesson in why you should never try to crowbar something topical into your feed in a cheap way to get user engagements - it'll always backfire. Whereas, Paddy Power may be controversial, but they were on the money throughout the World Cup with Tweets like the one in which they suggested Vladimir Putin might just be exerting pressure on referees during Russia games. It just shows you don't have to be needlessly controversial to get publicity. You can just be funny.

Paul Simpson, Editor:
My epic success has to be Trump on Twitter. Even if you loathe him, and all he stands for, it is has been a compelling spectacle. You could argue he’s using social media as a bully pulpit. And for an epic fail, Facebook. Abused our trust, changed settings to try and regain it, but didn’t reassure anyone because they - especially Mark Zuckerberg - didn’t seem to comprehend what they’d done.

Tyler Yates, Junior Designer:
Iceland’s Christmas campaign for 2018 may have been banned from TV for breaching political advertising rules (the supermarket re-badged an animated Greenpeace film). But it quickly went viral on Twitter, and has undoubtedly been viewed in more countries than it would have done if it had been broadcast as normal.

Zoe Birdsall, Lifestyle writer:
I’m with Tyler. Cynics might suggest that Iceland deliberately made the advert knowing it would breach the advertising standards guidelines and therefore be banned, prompting outrage and sharing on social media. But I'd argue that whether it was banned or not, the advert tugs on the viewer's heartstrings and makes you wonder why other brands aren't following in their footsteps. Another campaign I loved on social media was beauty brand’s Glossier Body Hero. The images of ‘normal’ models were not re-touched and showed a big variety of body types including stretch marks etc. It was pretty inspiring and empowering. 

Dominique Campbell, Picture Editor:
Four initiatives that were important to me this year were Armistice: Play4Peace: A Concert4Cooperation brought together bands from all over the world to play in harmony at 4pm CET on 11/11/2018 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI. #ArmisticeConcert #Concert4Cooperation #iPlay4Peace
All the campaigns by Greenpeace and National Geographic that are working towards a world free of plastic pollution. @greenpeace.international #breakfreefromplastic #ichooseplanet
The 'me too' movement and other pledges for women gender equality and rights. #PressforProgress
And finally a Youtube video by Korean boyband BTS – who earned a spot in the 2018 Guinness World Records for having the world’s most Twitter engagements for a music group - at the UN Assembly about the Unicef LOVE MYSELF campaign to protect children and young people against violence. #ENDviolence

Frankie Theobalds, Editor VWG:
In March, Snapchat posted an advertisement for a mobile game called ‘Would you rather? Impossible Choices’ featuring images of Rhianna and Chris Brown, asking whether players would rather slap Rhianna or punch Brown – who had previously been arrested and sentenced to community service after attacking his then-girlfriend Rhianna in 2009. Rhianna responded on rival Instagram Stories with the post: ‘I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and make a joke of it!!!’ – wiping almost £720m off the value of parent company Snap Inc in the process.