Top Reactive Marketing Campaigns of 2021

Attention please!

What do Heineken, a debt relief app and Flourish have in common? We all leveraged Squid Game for reactive marketing.

Reactive marketing is when a campaign responds directly to an unexpected event or cultural moment. Unlike pro-active marketing, reactive marketing is spontaneous.

Here are our top 5 reactive marketing moments of 2021.

1. January – Ikea Bernie Sanders

What happens when you take a photo of a popular politician, freeze-framed in that moment to be grumpy and aloof, sitting alone in snuggly mittens? Memes – thousands of them. And reactive socials. This one by Ikea is particularly successful, an ironic twist on ‘get the look’ features in fashion marketing.

2. April – Aldi’s #FreeCuthbert

When M&S came at Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar for copyright infringement, the British public rallied in defence of the budget bug-shaped bake. Ultimately #FreeCuthbert was a hit on Twitter and resulted in a limited-edition Cuthbert with profits from the sale donated to cancer charities.

3. September – Squid Game

Even if you haven’t watched it, you’ve heard about it. And if you haven’t heard about it, you must be wondering why so many big brands are using honeycomb circles and business cards with shapes as part of their social media promo.

4. October – Facebook going down

Remember that evening when the world stopped in its tracks? When Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram all went down, Twitter were quick off the mark to quip ‘Hello literally everyone’. And brands soon followed suit, like Specsavers.

5. December – Peloton

Peloton were quick to react to the surprise exercise-induced heart attack suffered by Mr Big in the first episode of HBO’s And Just Like That. In just 36 hours, Peloton put together an ad including actor Chris Noth posing an alternate storyline where he’s run off with his instructor.


Making the most of reactive marketing is an excellent way to show users that your brand is relevant, up to date and part of the conversation. We can’t wait to see what inspiration 2022 will bring, and how we can use it to get creative.