From The Drum Awards to the B2B Marketing Awards, there are plenty of organizations celebrating the creativity of B2B marketers. It also seems sentiment around B2B creativity is on the move. Studies show that more than three-quarters (81%) say B2B brands are now producing creative campaigns to rival consumer brands.

But what makes a B2B campaign successful, and what should a campaign include if it wants to stand the test of time?

1. Timeliness

Whether it’s a comment on the current state of AI, the rising cost of living, or what’s taking the box office by storm, the best campaigns are those that get to the heart of the current conversation and either apply an amusing spin or interpret it in a way that’s smart and compelling.

Matomo’s “Googleheimer Countdown” campaign used the blockbuster movie Oppenheimer as inspiration, explaining the implications of Google’s change to GA4 and how Matomo is the leading alternative.

Upwork’s 2018 “Hey World” campaign publicly reached out to time-strapped people in the current news cycle, like the US president, Dwayne Johnson, and Elon Musk, to see if they’d like the services of a freelancer to help them out. The campaign ended up becoming such a success it resulted in a 10% increase in the number of Fortune 500 companies using the service.

2. Humanity

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: human-centric marketing matters. As a result, you should design campaigns with human emotions in mind.

Google’s “#OpenToEveryone” campaign promoted inclusivity and gender representation and was launched after the introduction of its Business Profiles, which allow small-to-medium-sized businesses to self-identify as being a “women-led business,” “LGBTQ-friendly”, or a “transgender safe space.”

Large-format inkjet printer brand Roland wanted to showcase how it was able to print colours that are both high-quality and vivid. Its “50 Shades of Ginger” campaign was the answer, born from conversations with redheads to create the world’s first Ginger Colour Index, complete with a printed book that showcases the different shades of ginger.

3. Creativity

There’s long been an assumption that B2B marketing is boring, but the reality is everything but.

“Possessed – The Origin Story of a B2B Marketer” from Umault leans into creativity, using horror tropes to tell the story of a family with a son that’s been possessed by terrifying visions of sales funnels and qualified leads.

Dissolve’s “This Is a Generic Brand Video” calls out generic marketing videos by using stock footage from its own site and won the 2015 Shorty Award for its approach. “By poking fun of the ‘don’ts’ of brand video, we showed that we clearly understand the ‘dos’,” reads a statement from Dissolve. “Importantly, the clips were professional and well-shot, showing that we have a wide range of footage to suit any need, not just the same-old, same-old.”

4. Curiosity

The best campaigns are those that invite you to discover something you weren’t aware of before. That could be a hard-hitting look at sustainability or a brand’s innovative approach to a challenge.

Take the Creative B2B Lions Grand Prix winner, which saw paint company Sherwin-Williams create “Speaking in Color”, an AI-powered paint tool where architects could create custom colours by talking.

As the tool says, “all you have to do is say the words, and then we’ll help you find the color of your dreams. Start with a memory, a place, a feeling – anything that inspires you.”

5. Impact

All award-winning campaigns know how to make an impact both in terms of making your brand memorable and driving the message home.

Workday’s Super Bowl advertisement, “Rockstar” from 2023 did a great job of this, bringing in certified rock stars to tell the corporate world that it’s gone too far with its use of the term “rock star.”

While you might not have the budget to include Ozzy Osbourne or Billy Idol in your campaigns, that doesn’t mean you can’t think out of the box to make a splash.

Need help crafting a memorable B2B campaign?

Speak to our team of experts today.