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From Barbie to Mr. Krabs: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2022



In the latest Creative With Character column, Born Licensing's David Born shares his favourite campaigns of 2022 from around the world that leveraged entertainment IP

From Barbie to Mr. Krabs: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2022

Each year Born Licensing celebrates how characters and entertainment IP has been utilised in advertising campaigns from around the world. 

2022 presented a range of challenges for advertisers to grapple with, which made it more important than ever to create effective, impactful advertising. Aligning creative with popular characters from film, TV, animation, and video games proved to be a successful approach that allowed advertisers to tap into existing fanbases, leverage strong awareness, and cut through the clutter. 

Before we get into 2022, feel free to take a look back at our Top 10 campaigns from previous years:

2021: from Edward Scissorhands to Angry Birds: The Top 10 Licensed IP campaigns of 2021

2020: From RoboCop to Groundhog Day: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2020

2019: From E.T. to Oscar: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2019

2018: Deadpool to Dorothy: 2018’s Top Use of Character Licensing in Advertising

So here goes…Here’s our favourite campaigns of 2022 from around the world that leveraged entertainment IP:

10. Pepsi and Footloose 

In 2021 we placed Pepsi’s Grease themed campaign at number 3 on the list. This year they’ve followed with a Footloose inspired spot featuring singer Chlöe. Putting a modern spin on a nostalgic classic is one of our favourite approaches to licensing IP in advertising as it’s a great way to appeal to a wider demographic. On using nostalgia as a marketing tactic, Todd Kaplan, CMO of Pepsi noted that “in times of stress, people look for comfort in things they know and love and that is where nostalgia comes in.”

Brand: Pepsi

Market: USA  

Agency:  VaynerMedia

Property: Footloose 

9.  Stranger Things and Dominos

Dominos went all out for this collaboration with Netflix’s Stranger Things, developing a ‘mind-ordering’ app to support Season Four of the hit show. The launch of the app was supported with a spot which looked like a scene straight out of the show, featuring loved characters Dustin and Lucas. Retro 80’s inspired limited-edition packaging was also rolled out across the US. 

Brand: Dominos

Market: USA

Agency: WorkInProgress

Property: Stranger Things

8. Adidas and Rick & Morty

Ricky & Morty are no strangers to advertising – they’ve previously starred in spots for Wendy’s and Pringles. For each of these campaigns the agencies worked closely with Adult Swim and the makers of the show. This kind of close collaboration is crucial to the success of these spots which feel more like mini-episodes than commercials. We love the added touch of bringing football stars Mo Salah and Vivianne Miedema into the Rick & Morty universe with brilliant bespoke animation. 

Brand: Adidas

Market: USA

Agency: TBWA/Neboko

Property: Rick & Morty  

7. Direct Line and Marvel Studio’s King Valkyrie

Leveraging the hype of Marvel Studios’ theatrical release of Thor: Love and Thunder, Direct Line partnered with super hero King Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson). As a continuation of Direct Line’s award winning ‘We’re On It’ platform, we see King Valkyrie have the opportunity to take some time off after Direct Line once again saves the day. In this cinematic spot we see King Valkyrie enjoy some me-time with a trip to the British seaside. 

Brand: Direct Line

Market: UK

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London

Property: Thor: Love and Thunder (licensing managed by Born Licensing)

6. Ladbrokes and Rocky

Ladbrokes ‘We Play Together’ campaign reimagines the iconic training montage scene from Rocky, enlisting a huge crowd of sports supporters running alongside him, cheering him on. The spot reportedly took 6 months to complete in post-production with over 15,000 hours spent on the VFX. The end-result looked incredible, and is a brilliant example of the unique and imaginative ways advertisers can leverage classic movies. 

Brand: Ladbrokes

Market: UK

Agency: neverland   

Property: Rocky

5. Austin Powers and GM 

The villains of the Austin Powers franchise reunited after 20 years to defeat climate change in General Motors’ Super Bowl spot. Fan favourites Dr. Evil, Sidekick Number 2, and Frau Farbissina were just some of the characters to appear is this widely talked about spot. It’s a great example of pairing star talent with IP to really get your campaign noticed.  

Brand: General Motors

Market: USA

Agency: McCann Detroit 

Property: Austin Powers 

4. Direct Line and Optimus Prime, Transformers

Having previously enlisted Bumblebee from the Transformers, Donny and Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and RoboCop, Direct Line returned in the first of their 2022 follow up spots with Optimus Prime taking a road trip in the South of France. The Transformer is seen playing volleyball, snorkelling, enjoying a spa treatment, and skiing after Direct Line once again saves the day. The epic spot used original assets from the Transformers movie making the campaign a cinematic delight to watch. 

Brand: Direct Line

Market: UK

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London

Property: Transformers (licensing managed by Born Licensing) 

3. Envestnet and Mr. Krabs 

Envestnet partnered with Nickelodeon to bring the Intelligent Financial Life™ under sea with SpongeBob SquarePants character, Mr. Krabs. In the campaign we see a Financial Adviser advising the money-obsessed restauranteur on his complex finances. The campaign leverages an interactive digital experience where advisors can engage with five scenarios inspired by the TV series —such as the destruction of the Krusty Krab, opening a second restaurant, and firing SpongeBob—and through the Portal, advisors can see how these events affect Mr. Krabs' overall financial picture. The campaign won The Drums B2B Awards for Best Product Launch and Best Website. 

Brand: Envestnet

Market: USA

Agency: HeyLetsGo  

Property: SpongeBob SquarePants (licensing managed by Born Licensing)

2. Rocket Mortgage and Barbie

The second Super Bowl campaign in this list features Anna Kendrick together with Barbie. The spot by Highdive Advertising sees Kendrick walk into a living room of girls hoping to score a new house for their Barbie dolls, only to find the nightmare of modern homeownership at every corner. A brilliant cameo of Skeletor from Masters of the Universe is the cherry on the cake for this stand-out spot. The campaign won Super Bowl scoring the highest average score of 6.82 on USA Today’s Ad Meter.

Brand: Rocket Mortgage

Market: USA

Agency: Highdive Advertising 

Property: Barbie and Masters of the Universe

1. ASDA and Buddy the Elf

Top of our list for 2022 has to be ASDA’s ‘Have your Elf a Merry Christmas’ campaign by Havas London. The hugely ambitious campaign involved rotoscoping Will Ferrell’s loved character, Buddy the Elf, from the 2003 movie, Elf, and placing him into a bustling ASDA store in the lead up to his favourite time of the year. Born Licensing were able to secure the first-ever license for Elf in marketing making it even more of a unique campaign. It's been recorded as the 'most emotionally effective' campaign ever tested by System1, and has landed in Kantar’s top 3% of all UK ads for making people smile. 

Brand: ASDA

Market: UK

Agency: Havas London 

Property: Elf (licensing managed by Born Licensing)

Because we couldn’t fit all our favourites into our top ten here’s some honourable mentions of other amazing campaigns from the year that featured licensed entertainment IP:

GUCCI + Stanley Kubrick 

Brand:  GUCCI

Market: USA

Property: Stanley Kubrick (Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange, The Shinning, Eyes Wide Shut)

Michelob Ultra + The Big Lebowski

Brand: Michelob ULTRA

Market: USA

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy New York

Property: The Big Lebowski 

Verizon + Cable Guy

Brand: Verizon

Market: USA

Agency: McCann New York

Property: Cable Guy

Lexus + Wizard of Oz

Brand: Lexus

Market: USA

Agency: Team One

Property: Wizard of Oz  

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Born Licensing, Fri, 16 Dec 2022 09:54:00 GMT