Best Reactive Marketing Campaigns 2021

For the past two years, I have written about the best reactive marketing campaigns of the year. This year is no different. After all, the best things come in three’s, right?

2021 was seen as a year of hope for many. But in some people’s eyes, elements of it were even worse than 2020. However, one consistent thing has been the amazing reactive marketing campaigns. This blog discusses the best 2021 has to offer.

Freedom Day

A day that was highly anticipated by the whole of the UK, well, mainly England. Nonetheless, several brands responded to Freedom Day with marketing campaigns.

Innocent is my personal favourite for reactive marketing. The brand as a whole is brilliant, not just for its fantastic humour, timeliness and great content, but their CSR efforts are second to none. ‘Freedom Day’ was a phrase penned due to the reopening of pubs after the third lockdown. Innocent published a post of a note, which appears to be from their phone with the letters all mixed up, like someone texting drunk yet still managing to market their own smoothies. The post was the perfect simplicity of how most Brits text messages would look when the pubs reopened that day.

Tesco was another brand to speak about Freedom Day. The supermarket giant launched an ad campaign that encouraged customers to support their local pubs as the entertainment and food industries were the worst hit during the pandemic.

The feel-good campaign fits in well with the ‘we’re in this together’ message we’ve heard through the pandemic. Tesco didn’t pressure those who still weren’t quite ready to venture back out, adding ‘if you can’ in the call-to-action. Overall, a great campaign by Tesco!


A Pop Culture Phenomenon

If you’re not familiar with Squid Game, then where the hell have you been? Once the Korean Netflix series took off, there was no stopping some of the most popular brands from jumping on the back of its success.

Heineken uploaded an image of their beer with the four shapes from one of the Squid Game games, with the caption ‘The Best Pick’. In the game, contestants had to pick from a list of shapes (circle, triangle, star and umbrella). After choosing a shape, they were given a tin of honeycomb in that shape. The game is based on childhood activities using Dalgona candy (a honeycomb lollipop) and was popular with South Korean children in the 1960s and 1970s. They had to cut out the shape without it breaking or face being eliminated. Yep, they got shot dead. The star shape was the most straightforward to choose, and therefore, Heineken used the campaign to their advantage as their logo includes a star. Perhaps, Heineken is highlighting that their beer is an easy choice?

Nando’s is a brand that has featured in my reactive marketing campaigns series before. With their clever wit, they always manage to piggyback on the best trends on social media. This is just another example. Using the same game as Heineken, Nando’s have used their logo as one of the honeycomb pieces. They must have really loyal customers, as I don’t fancy trying to get that shape out!

Netflix itself leveraged the success of the popular series when Mark Zuckerburg’s trio of social media apps crashed in October. Poking fun at the situation, Netflix suggested that Twitter was everyone’s saviour, quite like a scene in Squid Game where one of the characters saves the other from getting eliminated in a game.



Weetabix X Heinz, Yep you read that right

Twitter to the rescue again! In a bizarre collab between Weetabix and Heinz, brands like KFC, Specsavers and Tinder offered their opinion.

Who knows what was going through their marketing team’s head? But I think it worked brilliantly! Who wasn’t speaking about both brands that day? Although the combination is unlikely, the reach and share of voice must have been through the roof!

Even Specsavers’ typical, ‘Should Have Gone to Specsavers’ line wasn’t enough for this collaboration. Have a look through some of the best replies below.



Although the brands weren’t promoting their products or services, using the platform to entertain can do just as much for their brand perception and recognition. This thread was genius and well done to the brands that took part. They must have had fun.


I can’t speak about the best reactive marketing campaigns without mentioning #freecuthbert. It was a court case that captured the attention of many. In April 2021, Marks & Spencer launched legal action against Aldi over a claim it infringed a trademark on its Colin the Caterpillar Cake with their version Cuthbert the Caterpillar. Aldi was quick to take control of the drama by taking it to social media and circulating the hashtag #freecuthbert

Within hours, Aldi was trending, and memes were everywhere. It was national news, a talking point on many TV shows and other brands and celebrities weighed in with their take on the situation.

Not only was this a brilliant social media campaign for Aldi, backed up by great social media growth statistics, they turned it into a charitable campaign, launching another edition of Cuthbert with all profits going to Teenage Cancer Trust. They also encouraged other supermarkets to join in with their #CaterpillarsForCancer campaign.

However, in December, there was more uproar from Marks & Spencer’s taking Aldi back to court for a similar version of their Christmas Gin this time. Aldi was fast to get the support on social media again with their humour and quick wit. Numerous tweets from their account see the funny side of the situation instead of taking it to heart.


What will 2022 have to offer? Catch up next year 😉