Top Instagram Ad Examples For B2C Retail & The Best Practices That Drove Their Results

August 31 , 2023

Have you ever found yourself staring blankly at your computer screen, puzzled by why your Instagram ads aren’t getting the attention they deserve? Let’s picture this, your brand is hip, your product is excellent, yet your Instagram ads might as well be invisible.

The Context:

  1. Frustration Over Low ROI: You’re putting money into Instagram ads, but it feels like throwing coins into a wishing well—gone, never to return.
  2. Endless Hours: You’ve watched every tutorial, and read every article, but you’re still not hitting the right notes.
  3. Tone-deaf Messaging: You keep hitting the “Promote” button, but the message seems lost in the noisy world of social media.
  4. Audience Disconnection: You know you’ve got a target market, but your ads might as well be talking to a brick wall.
  5. Missed Revenue Goals: You’re not hitting the sales targets, which makes your budget tighter and your headaches bigger.
  6. Uninspiring Aesthetics: Your visuals don’t pop; they drown in the sea of better-looking content.
  7. Fear of Falling Behind: Your competitors seem to have cracked the code, and you’re lagging.
  8. High Bounce Rates: Even if someone does click, they leave as fast as they came. Ouch!
  9. Limited Resources: You don’t have a limitless budget or time, so each mistake costs you dearly.
  10. Emotional Toll: It’s stressful, disheartening, and feels like a never-ending cycle.

The REAL Reason Behind These Problems

Listen, it’s not what you might think. You may blame it on the ever-changing Instagram algorithm, the stiff competition, or even the ineffectiveness of digital advertising. But those aren’t the core issues.

The Real Root Cause:

The problem is not understanding the psychology of your consumer within the context of Instagram. Instagram is a unique beast; it’s not just any advertising platform.

Why Most Solutions Fail

You might have tried to solve this by copying competitors or getting generic advice from marketing gurus. Those methods usually flop because they don’t target the real cause. Following a “one-size-fits-all” strategy won’t cut it.

The Superior NEW Way

Here’s the game-changer: Focus on Emotional Resonance.

Social Proof:

  • Clinique used personalized storytelling and saw a 25% increase in conversion rates.
  • Yoga International focused on user-generated content and doubled their engagement.

Path to Implement:

Step 1: Identify the emotional hook of your product.

Step 2: Frame your ad around that emotional hook.

Step 3: Test, refine, repeat.

Vivid Benefits of the New Solution

  1. Skyrocketing ROI: Imagine making 3x, 4x, or even 5x your ad spend.
  2. Emotional Connection: Your brand becomes more than a logo; it becomes a friend.
  3. Aesthetic Excellence: You’ll stand out, not blend in.
  4. Competitive Edge: You’ll become the pacesetter, not the follower.
  5. Loyal Community: Gain followers who are genuinely interested in your brand.

Top 5 Best Performing Instagram Ad Examples For B2C Retail

Instagram is a goldmine for B2C brands when it comes to digital marketing. Want to up your game? Take a page out of these five killer Instagram ad campaigns:

1. Clinique

Clinique is a global powerhouse in the beauty realm, and they really knocked it out of the park with their recent Instagram ad campaign to introduce their new line of moisturizers. This wasn’t just any campaign; it was a globally coordinated blitz that hit over 20 countries at the same time.

The brand aimed for big reach and scalability, gunning especially for the Gen Z and millennial crowd across varied local markets. Instead of just pushing a product, Clinique got savvy with video ads, honing in on what makes their moisturizers unique—key ingredients like whey protein and sunscreen. They also dialed up the benefits—think smoother skin and fewer wrinkles.

When it came to format, Clinique was all about mobile-first. They leaned into vertical videos with clean branding and straightforward text overlays, particularly leveraging Instagram Stories to drive engagement through the roof.

The real magic came during the consideration phase, where the campaign went hyper-local. Creative assets were tailored to suit each market’s unique characteristics. For instance, in Korea, they collaborated with influencers, while in the Middle East, they created a virtual beauty counter experience via Messenger.

And the payoff? Brace yourself. They saw:

  • A 13-point surge in ad recall
  • A 10-point jump in brand awareness
  • A 7-point increase in message association
  • An astonishing 36-point boost in add-to-cart actions

2. Bulgari

Bulgari, the epitome of luxury in jewelry, fragrances, and leather goods, rolled out a video ad campaign that’s a masterclass in combining brand and benevolence. This wasn’t just any ad; it celebrated a decade of partnership with Save The Children charity, all aligned with the spirit of #GivingTuesday.

Collaborating with Facebook Creative Shop, Bulgari tapped over 50 influencers who each took to Instagram Stories to push for donations. The theme? “How it started, How it’s going,” with influencers first posting a picture from their past and then a snapshot of their life now, emphasizing the power of their platform to give back.

Bulgari transformed these heartfelt videos into sponsored Instagram ads. Oh, and each post had a “Donate” sticker that led straight to Save The Children’s donation page.

But Bulgari didn’t stop there. They teamed up with VidMob for a second wave of ads, this time focused on conversions. Part of the proceeds from their jewelry sales funneled directly into Save The Children. The ads targeted US adults 18 and older and were laser-focused on Bulgari’s custom CRM audience, along with people interested in causes like fundraising and philanthropy.

The numbers tell the story:

  • Over a 3-point uptick in ad recall
  • A whopping $368,100 in estimated media value

Bulgari didn’t just sell products; they sold a cause, setting a new gold standard in how luxury brands can leverage Instagram for not just profit but purpose.

3. Yoga International

Occupying the third spot in our roundup of stellar Instagram ad campaigns is Yoga International, the online sanctuary for yoga enthusiasts, beginners, and experts alike.

With the aim of boosting both free-trial signups and full memberships globally, Yoga International employed a cornucopia of creative assets. The campaign ranged from eye-catching photos and videos to GIFs and interactive polls, exclusively available on Instagram Stories.

One memorable poll posed the question, “Want 30 days of free unlimited yoga streaming?” The answer choice? “Yes” and “Heck yes.” A quick swipe-up allowed the user to seize this irresistible offer and sign up for a free trial on the spot.

Running from July 15 to August 31, 2019, the campaign targeted a mix of audiences: those keen on yoga, website visitors who hadn’t converted, and even those who had abandoned the registration process. They also included a ‘lookalike’ audience, modeled after users who had completed trial memberships.

By incorporating Instagram’s unique poll feature, Yoga International not only showcased its offerings but also fostered audience interaction, making the ad experience more engaging and conversational.

The payoff?

  • A remarkable 3,510 new memberships, with 18% originating from the poll-based ads
  • A 21% reduction in cost per registration

Yoga International’s campaign stands as an exemplar in using Instagram’s specialized features to heighten user engagement and drive meaningful conversions.

4. American Family Insurance

Taking the fourth position in our list of exceptional Instagram ad examples is American Family Insurance, ranked as the 13th largest property/casualty insurance firm in the U.S. Aimed at elevating brand metrics, their mobile-optimized Instagram and Facebook campaign ran from August 22 to October 18, 2018.

The insurance giant decided to repurpose an existing TV commercial titled “The Dream,” which underscored the company’s commitment to protecting dreams of all sizes, for people from all walks of life. Given the original TV spot’s length wasn’t suited for mobile platforms, American Family Insurance teamed up with VidMob to adapt the content into both photo and video formats.

The campaign followed best practices for mobile advertising, incorporating distinct branding elements and a logo overlay to ensure the message came through, even when the sound was off. Utilizing a carousel ad format on both Instagram and Facebook, the ads also featured CTAs like “Watch more” and “Learn more,” linking back to the company’s website.

A quick critique at this juncture: We find the “Learn more” CTA less than optimal. It’s passive and gives the impression that the user needs to expend effort. While American Family Insurance’s campaign made it to our list of top performers, we’d have preferred if they had solely used the more engaging “Watch more” CTA.

The campaign’s targeting was precise, focusing on three demographic groups: adults aged 25-54 residing in the 19 states where the company operates, those interested in the concept of “The American Dream,” and a lookalike audience built on these parameters.

What did they achieve?

  • An impressive 8.4-point lift in brand awareness
  • A notable 12.8-point increase in brand favorability
  • A 9.3-point uptick in intention to consider the brand
  • A 4.3-point rise in perceived brand uniqueness

These results underscore American Family Insurance’s effective use of Instagram’s ad capabilities to not only gain visibility but also to significantly impact brand perception.


Rounding out our top five list of standout Instagram ad campaigns is WINC, a contemporary wine club founded in 2012. Known for offering a diverse selection of over 100 wines to its subscribers, WINC aimed to amplify its membership numbers through a strategic Instagram and Facebook ad campaign that ran from March 10 to May 15, 2020.

Shifting from its conventional marketing methods, WINC wisely adapted its messaging to resonate with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign featured text overlays like, “Social distancing? We’ve got you covered,” and “Good news: We deliver,” paired with visuals of contactless wine deliveries.

The advertisements were not only timely but also actionable, featuring a “Get offer” CTA that led users to a Palette Profile Quiz on WINC’s website. This quiz, consisting of six questions regarding taste preferences, allowed WINC to offer personalized wine recommendations to potential subscribers.

In terms of design, the company embraced simplicity and versatility. While the images used were straightforward, they were created in multiple dimensions to suit various screen sizes. WINC also utilized Instagram’s placement asset customization feature, allowing the ads to automatically adjust to vertical, square, or rectangular formats as needed.

The targeting strategy was comprehensive, focusing on U.S. adults aged 21 and above and a lookalike audience based on the company’s existing high-value subscribers.

So, what were the results?

  • An impressive 2.4X increase in quiz completion
  • A 2.1X boost in new subscriptions
  • A 32-point surge in unaided ad recall
  • A 1.8X uptick in brand-specific search traffic to WINC’s website

WINC’s ad campaign serves as a shining example of how to pivot marketing strategies in challenging times, effectively engage a broad audience, and drive measurable results.


Instagram Carousel Ad Examples

Certainly, Instagram carousel ads offer unmatched versatility, allowing brands to blend photos and videos for a captivating ad experience.

1. Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet

Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet exemplified how to leverage this format effectively during New York Fashion Week in 2018. Partnering with Facebook Creative Shop, they launched a four-part campaign to boost awareness, reach, and sales.

Phase 1:

Ahead of the fashion week, the brand unveiled video ads showcasing its spring collection. The ads beckoned users to “Follow our fashion week. First stop is Wonderland” and directed them to a landing page via a “Learn More” CTA, a choice which could perhaps have been more dynamic.

Phase 2:

Utilizing the carousel format within Instagram’s Instant Experience, a sequence of video ads was rolled out. These featured runway models and shared a unified message: “We’ve stamped your passport, now step into Wonderland.” Swiping on the ad led to a landing page that displayed the upcoming fall collection.

Phase 3:

Here, the carousel ads showcased a vibrant mix of photos and videos, focusing on the colorful fall collection. The messaging encouraged users to “Shop our world of color,” but unfortunately relied on the somewhat uninspiring “Learn More” CTA to direct users to their online catalog.

Phase 4:

In this final phase, carousel ads spotlighted key pieces from the new collection, reinforcing the message: “Shop these new styles to look and feel as powerful as you are.” This time, each carousel slide featured a “Shop Now” CTA, linking directly to the relevant product on their website.

Running from September 9 to October 1, 2018, the campaign was aimed at existing customers, email subscribers, social media followers, recent website visitors, video engagers, and lookalike audiences.

Campaign Outcomes:

  • A staggering 72% year-over-year revenue increase across all channels.
  • A 2.2X surge in new website visitors year-over-year.
  • A fivefold uptick in conversions during the last two phases compared to the first two.
  • Over half a million 3-second video views.

2. GAP

Gap, the renowned American clothing retailer, aimed to make a splash with its innovative “Logo remix” collection. Collaborating with Facebook Creative Shop, Gap developed a campaign optimized for mobile users, deploying snappy vertical videos with clear branding and easy-to-digest messages.

Deployed as full-screen carousel ads on Instagram, the campaign showcased three slides featuring a mix of celebrated musicians, producers, and everyday people. They grooved to a revamped hip-hop version of the Thompson Twins’ classic, “Hold Me Now,” injecting the campaign with a burst of nostalgia and contemporary appeal.

Designed for high engagement, each carousel card was interactive, featuring a “Swipe up to shop the collection” CTA. This nifty feature directed users straight to Gap’s website to explore and buy the featured clothes.

The campaign targeted a diverse U.S. audience, men and women aged 18-34, with varied interests—from fashion and streetwear to an eclectic range of music genres including hip-hop, ’80s tunes, and contemporary R&B. Notably, fans of singer/songwriter SZA were also targeted.

The campaign’s run was brief but impactful, spanning from February 1 to 19, 2018.

Outcomes of the Campaign:

  • An impressive 17-point jump in ad recall.
  • A 4-point boost in message association specifically for Instagram Stories.
  • An astounding 73% higher click-through rate compared to Gap’s previous Instagram campaign.

Instagram Story Ad Example

Introduced in 2016, Instagram Stories offers a dynamic platform where users can upload photo or video content enriched with various interactive elements such as music, stickers, hashtags, GIFs, and polls. Displayed in a full-screen format, these Stories are ephemeral by nature, vanishing after 24 hours unless they are saved by the user. This feature provides a unique, engaging way for individuals and brands to share moments or messages in a more immersive and interactive style.

1. Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren, the iconic fashion brand established in 1968, marked its 50th anniversary with an innovative digital marketing campaign aimed squarely at millennials, Gen Z, and Gen X audiences. Leveraging the full-screen, interactive power of Instagram Stories, along with traditional in-feed ads, the brand created a social-first strategy designed to guide consumers through the journey from brand discovery to purchase.

This multi-faceted campaign deployed a range of media, from photos and videos to carousel ads. Each celebrated Ralph Lauren’s five-decade legacy while highlighting pieces from their latest collections. Aiming for global reach, the campaign was rolled out across six European markets—Italy, Spain, Germany, the UK, Sweden, and France—between September and November 2018.

Campaign Outcomes:

  • A significant 18% boost in online sales among the millennial demographic that the brand aimed to capture.
  • A remarkable 17-point surge in ad recall, also within the millennial audience.
  • A 41% uptick in product page views, demonstrating increased interest and engagement.
  • An impressive 7.1X return on ad spend from the use of dynamic online ads.
  • A notable 41% rise in product page views specifically among the Gen Z audience, indicating successful outreach to this younger demographic.

Instagram Video Ad Examples

Instagram video ads offer brands an enhanced canvas to unleash their creativity, animate their products, and elicit emotional engagement from the platform’s users. Rather than being restricted to static visuals, these dynamic video formats enable brands to explore a range of storytelling techniques, whether they aim to evoke feelings of empathy, empowerment, humor, or other emotions.

When executed skillfully, video ads have the power to halt scrolling thumbs and capture undivided attention. The following campaigns exemplify the potent impact well-crafted Instagram video ads can have, as evidenced by their outstanding results.

1. Muscle Milk

Muscle Milk, a brand under the PepsiCo umbrella, aimed to amplify awareness of its diverse product line, which includes protein shakes, snack bars, and powders targeted at athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The brand orchestrated a multi-faceted video campaign that was deployed across Instagram and Facebook, covering a range of placements like in-feed, in-stream, and Stories.

Conforming to Instagram’s recommended video guidelines, the ads were succinct, clocking in at under 15 seconds. They also made an immediate impact by featuring the brand’s logo and key messages within the initial three seconds. Using compelling storytelling, the videos captured individuals in various environments—from homes and local neighborhoods to athletic fields—each person embodying a spirit of active living.

Overlay text boldly highlighted the array of Muscle Milk products, while the campaign hashtag, #OwnYourStrength, called on viewers to take charge of their own wellness journey. A straightforward “Shop Now” call-to-action button directed users to the product being showcased.

The campaign’s efficacy was proven by a 4.8% uptick in market reach, a 7.5-point surge in spontaneous ad recall, and an expansive reach that captivated over 16.9 million people.

2. Sephora Collection

When Sephora aimed to promote its in-house line of fragrances, Sephora Collection, the brand took an innovative approach by collaborating with unique talents in the field of sensory experiences. Specifically, they partnered with neuroscientist creator Jessica Herrington, who specializes in digital sensory experiences, and Roman Bratschi, a 3D animation designer.

The campaign was aptly themed “Smell with Your Eyes,” aiming to transcend traditional advertising limitations by allowing users to experience the fragrances through their screens. Herrington crafted three Augmented Reality filters, each mirroring the distinct notes and characters of the fragrances through vivid colors, shapes, and textures. Bratschi complemented this by creating immersive videos designed to engage the senses further.

Sephora displayed these augmented reality ads on both Instagram and Facebook News Feeds. Additionally, they performed a split test, comparing the effectiveness of these innovative assets against their standard brand assets. The tests ran across both Instagram and Facebook feeds and stories from August 10 to 25, 2020.

The outcomes were compelling:

  • A 17-point increase in ad recall was observed when using both creator and traditional brand assets, as opposed to using brand assets alone.
  • The combination of creator and traditional brand assets also resulted in a 6.6-point higher lift in ad recall and a 2.4-point higher lift in standard favorability, compared to just using brand assets.
  • Additionally, there was a 1.3-point higher lift in purchase intent when combining the creator assets with the standard brand assets, as compared to using only the brand’s typical assets.

Top Instagram Ad Examples: The Best Practices That Helped Drive Results

Let’s delve into each of these best practices that have helped brands drive exceptional results with their Instagram ad campaigns:

1. Use Compelling Media

Instagram is a visual platform, and compelling media is key to grabbing the attention of your target audience. High-quality images and videos that align with your brand’s aesthetic can create a stronger emotional connection and inspire action.

Why It Works:

Visuals can communicate messages more quickly and powerfully than text alone. Users are more likely to stop and engage with an ad if it visually stands out and resonates emotionally.

2. Take a Mobile-First Approach

Most Instagram users access the platform via mobile devices. Designing ads that are optimized for mobile ensures that the content appears correctly, is easy to read, and that any call-to-action (CTA) buttons are easily clickable.

Why It Works:

People are increasingly consuming content on the go. A mobile-first approach ensures that your ads are accessible and effective, regardless of where your audience views them.

3. Encourage Engagement

Ads that encourage interaction—whether through compelling CTAs like “Swipe Up to Learn More” or through interactive elements like polls or shoppable tags—can significantly improve engagement rates.

Why It Works:

Higher engagement rates not only boost the ad’s algorithmic ranking but also increase the likelihood of conversion. An engaged user is one step closer to becoming a customer.

4. Use Text Overlay

While visuals are crucial, adding text overlays to your images or videos can reinforce your message and provide additional context. This could be a headline, a promotional offer, or a product feature.

Why It Works:

Text overlay helps to quickly communicate the value proposition and reinforce the visual message, making it more likely that users will take the desired action.

5. Use Clear Messaging and Bold CTAs

Clear, concise messaging with a bold CTA (like “Shop Now” or “Learn More”) guides users on what action to take next.

Why It Works:

The average user scrolls through their Instagram feed quickly. Clear messaging and an eye-catching CTA ensure that users grasp your offer and know exactly how to take advantage of it in a short amount of time.

6. Include Prominent Branding

While you don’t want to overwhelm the viewer, subtle and consistent branding elements like logos, brand colors, and fonts can make your ad instantly recognizable.

Why It Works:

Prominent branding enhances recall and trust. When users can immediately identify who the ad is from, they are more likely to engage with it, especially if they already have some level of familiarity with the brand.


Successful Instagram advertising in the B2C retail sector hinges on a blend of key best practices. Brands like Alice + Olivia, Gap, and Ralph Lauren have shown that a mix of compelling visuals, mobile-first design, clear messaging, and interactive CTAs can yield significant ROI. These aren’t just ads; they’re full-fledged experiences that guide the consumer from discovery to purchase. So if you’re looking to make a meaningful impact on Instagram, these best practices are your shortcut to measurable success.

Interested in replicating the success of top B2C retail brands on Instagram? Contact us to learn how you can implement the best practices that have driven unprecedented results.

  • August 31 , 2023
  • Rushik Shah

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