Culture and trends
min read

The best Gen Z marketing campaigns of 2023

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
December 18, 2023
Last updated
January 22, 2024

What this article covers

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.

Subscribe

By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.

2023 has been one hell of a year. Timothée Chamalat and Kylie Jenner started dating, Twitter became X, Britney released a tell-all memoir and, of course, Barbeneimer happened. And we’re just getting started… 

But what about the world of Gen Z marketing? Who stood out, proving themselves to be the biggest and best in engaging these young consumers? 

Welcome to Pion’s Gen Z marketing round-up, our guide to help you stay aware of the competition, learn from the leading marketing strategies and have a celebratory look back at the past year. 

We’ve asked leaders from Pion to share their favourite 2023 campaigns, helping you get some top tips for 2024. And if you’ve made it onto the list, congratulations - gold star for you. 

6 of the best Gen Z marketing campaigns from 2023

1. Absolutely Heinz

Earlier in 2023, two brand giants came together to release the ultimate product: Heinz x Absolut Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce.

Pasta alla Vodka first hit the headlines in 2020 thanks to Gigi Hadid, whose recipe quickly became one of the hottest (and spiciest) things on TikTok. Jumping on the hype, Heinz and Absolute Vodka got together to create the pasta sauce jars, releasing a limited number of them in April. 

Why did we love it?

“It was marketing magic seeing two iconic brands unexpectedly come together to collab on an already viral recipe. I liked the instantly recognisable aesthetics of each of the brands in the OOH, but I loved the creator activation, gifting the product to creators with 500 to five million followers. When two brands that are so loved create something so unique, the content's authenticity is so real.” Will Weeks, Head of Brand & Comms at Pion

2. Barbie

This one doesn’t need much explanation - if you weren’t aware of the Barbie release in 2023, you need this blog post more than you thought.

Following months of promotional content and a sensational Gen Z marketing strategy, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was released in July. Gen Zers went wild for the movie, the premieres, the campaign stunts - you name it, it happened! 

Why did we love it?

“From the months of hype in the lead-up to the film, plus the OOH experiences of the cute lil pop-up Barbie toy boxes in local cinemas, to the iconic global premiers, THAT Airbnb Dreamhouse, to the film merch available for the fans (still lusting after a ‘I am Kenough’ hoodie tbh…). 

“Plus, not to mention the use of partnerships - Barbie Crocs? Très chic. This wasn’t just a film, this screamed experience. Which has Gen Z written all over it.” Louise Donnelly, Senior B2B Digital Marketing Manager

2. Oladupé by Olaplex

@audreyanne.j Get the one and only @olaplex and get 20% off with code UNDUPABLE at olaplex.com, valid until 10/31/23 #OLAPLEX #OLADUPE #OLAPLEXdupe #ad ♬ Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy

‘Dupe’ products (aka, cheaper, off-brand versions of something) are all the rage at the moment - after all, we’re living through a cost of living crisis! But while these dupes are often great for consumers, they can leave brands facing sticky situations… 

Recently, haircare brand Olaplex reacted to the dupe trend unexpectedly: they created a fake brand to sell their original product. ‘Oladupé’ claimed to use the same technology as the ‘original’ and had very similar packaging and attracted hundreds of customers, but upon Googling it was revealed to be a campaign by Olaplex. ‘Oladupé’ was simply their actual product. 

It may sound a bit confusing, but it worked!

Why did we love it?

“Olaplex aren’t naive to the fact the market is saturated with dupe products for their popular shampoo and conditioner duo and used this to their advantage. This was a great way of infiltrating #dupetok and making sure they were at the front of the conversation regardless of their dupe competitors.” Alice Green, Social Media Manager (TikTok)

4. Nemesis by Alton Towers

Towards the end of 2022, UK theme park Alton Towers closed the gates to one of its most loved rides, Nemesis. Fans were devastated, thrillseekers were shocked, adrenaline junkies were staring into the abyss thinking ‘... but, what now?!’. 

Over 15,000 people applied to ride the rollercoaster for one last time. 

Fast forward to 2023, and the lack of attraction didn’t stop the team from bringing the ride to life while it underwent renovation. From weekly updates and merchandise to turning the actual construction site into an attraction in itself. 

Why did we love it?

“The lack of attraction didn’t stop the incredible team bringing to life a whole year-round campaign! It was a perfect blend of storytelling, talking directly to their target audience, and gauging interest ahead of the ride relaunch in 2024.” Rick Jackson, Head of YMS and Insights at Pion

5. Cadbury's Worldwide Hide by Cadbury's

The year is 2023, and Easter egg hunts are no longer confined to the four walls of your nan’s garden. Now, they’re online, and they’re everywhere. 

In a move to gamification, chocolate brand Cadbury’s launched their Worldwide Hide campaign, in which users could hide a virtual egg on a map, sending clues to the lucky recipient. Using Google Street View, the experience of buying and sending Easter eggs was totally Gen Z-ified. 

Why did we love it?

“People could huge virtual eggs using the platform, hiding them anywhere in the country and even in meaningful spots to the recipient. [It was] a great example of how to create an engaging and personalised DOOH campaign!.” Jenn Williams, Research & Insights Executive at Pion

6. Call Me Coco by New Balance

She’s a tennis superstar, and she’s only eighteen. That’s right, it’s Coco Gauff. 

Cori Gauff first burst onto the professional tennis scene when she was just fourteen years old, yet despite professionally going by ‘Coco’, many journalists still referred to her as Cori. 

The solution? New Balance’s ‘Call Me Coco’ campaign. The catchphrase immediately began trending worldwide, and the five-year partnership between brand and player peaked in 2023 when Gauff won the US Open. The ‘Call Me Coco’ campaign was back, but this time, there were t-shirts…

Why did we love it?

“The first batch of t-shirts, totalling a ‘few thousand’, according to New Balance, sold out in five hours and after being restocked, sold out again.

“New Balance reported 145,000 unique visitors to the t-shirt’s webpage following the US Open and experienced a 500% increase in keyword search for ‘Coco’ on newbalance.com in September.” Dan Millar, Affiliate Partnerships Manager

So there you have it - the best of 2023! Here’s to 2024 being another year of engaging content, innovative ideas and great Gen Z campaigns.

Want more like this? Sign up to our weekly newsletter for Gen Z trends, delivered straight to your inbox.

1,000+ brands trust Pion

Ready to see how Pion can supercharge your sales targets?