Adweek’s 25 Most Popular Brand Marketing Stories of 2018

Big stunts, Super Bowl ads and brand flops rounded out the year

Tide's Super Bowl ad starring David Harbour was a major hit in 2018.
Headshot of Katie Richards

In 2018 brands were on a mission to connect with people more than even.

Sometimes brands (hey, Nike) felt it best to take a stand for an important issue or cause, while others used their creative prowess to make stunning ad campaigns that you could watch over and over again—think Apple’s HomePod ad. Then there were those that relied on clever stunts and activations to win some media coverage and attention from consumers.

Other brands, like Uber, needed to revamp their marketing and brand image to reposition after heaps of negative publicity, while some brands found themselves in the hot seat for various reasons.

2018 was a wild ride, so be sure to revisit the biggest stories of the year from Adweek’s Brand Marketing team below:

No. 25: Deadpool Has Invaded the Rest of Walmart’s Movie Aisle With a Brilliant Blu-ray Stunt

No. 24: A Nurse Drove His Tundra Through the California Wildfires to Save Victims. So Toyota Is Replacing It

No. 23: With a $0 Ad Budget, Tesla Just Pulled Off One of the Greatest Marketing Stunts Ever

No. 22: Pepsi CEO Says It’s Targeting Women With Doritos That Are Cleaner and Less Crunchy

No. 21: Inside M&M’s Absurd Gambit to Turn Danny DeVito Into a Super Bowl-Sized Spokescandy

No. 20: Ikea ‘Bullied’ a Potted Plant While Encouraging Another, Then Showed Schoolkids the Impact

No. 19: Trump Tweeted the NFL and Nike Are ‘Getting Absolutely Killed,’ but Here’s the Data

No. 18: Michelob Ultra Continues Its Commitment to Health and Wellness With New Premium Organic Brew

No. 17: Why KFC Turned a Tweet From One of Its Biggest Critics Into a U.K. Ad Campaign 

No. 16: Under Armour Parts With Adrienne Lofton, SVP, Global Head of Brand Management 

No. 15: The Princess Bride Star Cary Elwes Revives His Famous Role in New Ad for Culligan Water

No. 14: That Crocodile Dundee Reboot: Here’s the Whole Story Behind the Movie That Wasn’t 

No. 13: 5 Brand Logo Redesigns That Pissed People Off 

No. 12: Taco Bell Made the Perfect Trailer for a Fake Movie About Why They’ve Never Sold Fries 

No. 11: H&M Is Under Fire for Modeling Its ‘Coolest Monkey’ Hoodie on a Black Child 

No. 10: Get an Exclusive Look at Uber’s New Brand Revamp

No. 9: Ashley Wagner Didn’t Make the Olympic Team, but Did Make This Breathtaking Toyota Ad

No. 8: Apple’s Gorgeously Detailed Holiday Ad Has a Moral That All Creatives Should Take to Heart

No. 7: Lacoste’s Iconic Crocodile Makes Room for 10 Endangered Species on Brand’s Polo Shirts 

No. 6: The Cult of Peloton: Reinventing the Fitness Industry, and Becoming a Microcultural Phenomenon

No. 5: Living Coral Is Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year 

No. 4: Spike Jonze and FKA twigs Made a Jaw-Dropping Short Film for Apple’s HomePod 

No. 3: Every Ad Is a Tide Ad: Inside Saatchi and P&H’s Clever Super Bowl Takeover Starring David Harbour

No. 2: Macaulay Culkin Is Home Alone Again at Age 38 in Google’s Update to the Holiday Classic

No. 1: Payless Opened a Fake Luxury Store, ‘Palessi,’ to See How Much People Would Pay for $20 Shoes

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.