As a photographer and a marketer, nothing excites me more than a campaign that utilizes beautiful, powerful imagery to tell a story and connect with an audience. My childhood dreams of traveling the world for National Geographic live on. Like Dorothea Lange and so many inspiring photographers before me, I imagined I might live my life telling important stories through the lens of my old 35mm Pentax.
Managing communications for a company that also cares deeply about the power of visual storytelling is a close second 🙂
And 2019 was a stand-out year for visual storytelling. From body image to the environment to female leaders in sports, brands did not shy away from the big topics.
Here are my personal favorites:
Aerie: Bravo to Aerie for building a brand centered around and for real, everyday women. Unaltered and unedited, all of their photos and videos – on their website and throughout their social campaigns – feature women of all shapes, colors and sizes.
Imperfections were celebrated, not edited. And based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction, this was a welcome change and women were digging it, big time. For Aerie, Photoshop need not apply.
Citizens of Humanity and HUMANITY magazine: If you’re familiar with Citizens of Humanity you might know them for their jeans – or as I think they’d prefer, premium denim. You might not know that they also produce one of the most beautifully curated magazines. From the content to the black and white photography, their most recent issue blew me away.
I especially loved this article about a Principal Dancer for the Royal Ballet, Marianela Nunez. If you have an appreciation for art, music, film and fashion, I highly recommend checking it out. And their jeans are amazing too!
Nike: Nike declared 2019 its year for women and their digital campaigns did not disappoint. On the heels of their Dream Crazy campaign starring Colin Kaepernick, they produced the kind of inspiring, award-worthy video content we’ve come to expect from the popular shoe brand.
Nike had us “Dream Crazier” with Serena Williams leading us through a visual compilation of inspiring female firsts in sports. They helped us “Dream Further” with this brilliant video about a young female football player, and dream bigger with “Dream with Us” – a video that asked us to be the generation that ends gender inequality in sports.
“Show them what crazy can do” became a mantra for women and young girls in sports everywhere.
Patagonia: With a mission that reads, “We’re in business to save our home planet,” Patagonia has shown the world that mission-based marketing, even when controversial to some, doesn’t mean a hit in profitability. On the contrary, the $1 billion dollar retailer is doing just fine. Not bad for a brand that runs “Don’t buy this jacket” ads, and donates 100% of its Black Friday sales to environmental causes.
This year Patagonia closed its doors for a few hours on a Friday in September so its employees could march alongside young activists in the Global Climate Strike. And for Climate Week, it ran a powerful mostly digital campaign called Facing Extinction.
In a blog post about the campaign, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario wrote, “Our customers are demanding we act – this generation of youth is not backing down and neither should we. Sharing this common challenge gives us hope. We need to step up, to move forward with optimism and American innovation and ingenuity to invest in solutions and fight the fight of our lives to save our home planet.”
Marketers understand the value of visual campaigns but those outside the industry are likely unaware of all the work that occurs on websites, networks and devices to deliver them flawlessly. Kudos to all those working hard to connect and inspire through powerful visual content, from creatives to digital asset managers to web developers, and here’s to more award-winning content in 2020.