Culture and trends

Round up | April's best Gen Z marketing campaigns

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
May 10, 2023
Last updated
January 21, 2024

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April is over, the days are lighter, and summer is nearly here: celebrations are in store. And what better way to celebrate than with April's best Gen Z marketing campaigns?!

In this blog post, we take a look at the campaigns that have really resonated with Gen Z in April, exploring why they worked and sharing what you can learn from them. From social media campaigns to interesting new product releases, we have it all!

So, look no further for the ideas and inspiration you need for your future strategies...

1. F*ck Oatly!

Oat milk brand Oatly are turning negative feedback on its head via their dedicated hater website, F*ck Otaly! The site is devoted to encouraging haters (and fans) to share what’s ‘wrong’ with the company, and how they can improve; users literally have to ‘confirm’ their dislike of Oatly by clicking a button! And if that’s not enough, people can also visit - a place for if you ‘really hate’ Oatly. One LinkedIn user described the campaign as ‘the Pandora’s box of oat milk marketing’.

The brand has fallen victim to criticism over the years, accused of greenwashing and product contamination. But instead of just burying this, they’re owning the criticism and are asking for feedback in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and grabs attention. But the real question is: will they act on it and make a change?

Why does Gen Z love it?

  • Gen Z loves companies who don’t take themselves too seriously - we see it regularly with innocent drinks, who go viral all the time!
  • It’s creative, different, and eye-catching, making it stand out in an oversaturated market of milk alternative products 
  • The campaign gives the brand a strong personality and a unique brand voice - one that isn’t corporate and makes Gen Z feel like they’re having a laugh with a friend. To quote one social media user: ‘Strong personality definitely paves the way in the market!’

2. Barbie Selfie Generator

The world of social media marketing has gone wild for Greta Gerwig’s latest film, Barbie. The film, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, has caught the attention of Gen Z thanks to its satirical nature, with the plot and cast moving away from the traditional stereotypes of the original Barbie and focusing on self-expression and diversity.

Barbie’s marketing campaign is simple but highly effective. Aside from the posters and official trailer, the Barbie Selfie Generator is an interactive, playful, personalised way for the film's target audience to get involved. Gen Zers have been creating their own Barbie selfies (in a self-deprecating manner, of course) and sharing them across social media, from Instagram to LinkedIn.

@itsgracetran LIKE ARE U KIDDING ME THIS IS ICONIC ty barbie selfie generator #barbie #barbiemovie ♬ original sound - onxlyq™

Why does Gen Z love it?

  • Everyone knows who Barbie is! This is an idea and campaign that appeals to all generations
  • It’s interactive and personalised, something that really appeals to Gen Z, and is perfect for UGC
  • In an additional marketing move, Mattel have recently released a new Barbie doll, who has Down Syndrome, proving that the brand is determined to move away from the historic doll and towards a more diverse, inclusive, and realistic vision.

3. Penguin vending machine

Penguin book publishers have recently installed a book vending machine at Exeter train station (with another TBC), and it's caught the attention of LinkedIn posters and TikTokers across the UK. The idea was inspired by the company’s origins, wherein founder Sir Allen Lane could only find magazines to read whilst waiting at St Davids station in Exeter.

Throughout the year, titles in the vending machine will change on a regular basis, featuring new releases and classic favourites, as well as marking moments such as LGBTQIA+ History Month and Black History Month.

Why does Gen Z love it?

  • The campaign celebrates one of Penguin’s core philosophies - that books and reading are for anyone, anywhere, and should be accessible and affordable. This perfectly aligns with the values of Gen Z BookTokers (a subgenre on TikTok of eager readers who share their recommendations online), who believe reading should be exciting and innovative 
  • Money raised in the campaign goes to one of Exeter’s local independent bookstores; Gen Zers love companies who give back to their communities and the wider world
  • The brand's focus on significant sociopolitical moments and celebration of diversity and inclusivity ticks every box for Gen Z

4. Super Mario x LUSH

In a somewhat unexpected move, cosmetics brand LUSH teamed up with The Super Mario Bros. brand to celebrate the release of the new movie. The campaign focuses on a new range from LUSH, which consists of eight Super Mario-themed products, including Gold Coin soap, Princess Peach body spray, and Luigi shower gel.

One of the best sellers, the Question Block bath bomb, perfectly taps into Gen Z’s love of nostalgia and is perfect for UGC, with eager Gen Zers taking to TikTok to share their unboxings and ‘Let’s try’ videos (this one has 3.6M views!).

Why does Gen Z love it?

  • Gen Z has a love of nostalgia marketing - it’s a trick that reminds them of simpler, easier times, providing comfort and connection
  • The campaign taps into multiple communities, including gaming, film, and beauty, proving that LUSH is for everyone and hugely boosting brand awareness
  • It’s innovative, exciting, and something a bit different - perfect for UGC

5. Heinz x Absolut

Okay, bear with us on this one. Beans and vodka might sound like an odd partnership, but when it comes to Gen Z, it makes perfect sense. 

Food company Heinz teamed up with vodka brand Absolut for a recent campaign, which saw an interesting new flavour of tomato sauce hitting supermarket shelves. With OOH placements across London and a social media push featuring the branded campaign hashtag #AbsolutelyHeinz to support the campaign, this weird collaboration has caught the attention of people across the world. Social media users are using TikTok to ‘test’ the sauce, unbox it, and generally market it (for free!).

Why does Gen Z love it?

  • The amount of jars available are limited, building the exclusivity 
  • The sauce harks back to Gen Z’s  ‘original’ introduction of vodka pasta by model Gigi Hadid, who shared her recipe during lockdown and inspired millions of young people to try and recreate it. Interestingly, this has even been noted by Heinz on their website, who write: ‘Pasta alla Vodka had one of its biggest moments in history in 2020, when a certain supermodel and influencer created a viral sensation with their social media recipe for spicy vodka pasta, becoming one of the trendiest recipes on TikTok and Instagram.’
  • Unexpected collaborations/brand moves always get the most visibility with Gen Z...just look at Yorkshire Tea’s Jam and Toast tea! The moral of the story: the weirder the better!

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