As a culture we love to critique and review. The premise on the advertising industry does just that. It shows us images of how we can envision ourselves. Ads are relatable and clever, sometimes controversial (those are often the best and worse ads “when this miss the mark….Pepsi.”)
I’ve broken down my personal ranking as follows:
- Brand Impact: How the ad builds on the brand. Being adventurous requires risk which tends to create a higher impact of brand perception, where as conventional is…… well, conventional.
- Creativity: Clever, witty and all around amazing concepts rule in this category.
- Content: Alongside creativity, having something to say helps ads stand out. This is a tricky category to win.
- Popularity: All these ads are great, with millions of viewing hours. This category incorporates the popularity of the product or service as well as the controversial notions that arise from the ad.
I’ve seen hundreds of ads through 2018, if not thousands. Few really stood out. Here’s my list of 7.1, yes, 7.1 ads that were thought provoking, if not the leaders in their industries. I’ll start with 1 and count up, because why the heck not?
1. GAME OF THRONES S.8 TRAILER
Honestly, who doesn’t watch this show. With over 1.75M views of the trailer to date, it’s clear GOT is the GOAT. I, like many other viewers eagerly wait for the conclusion of this series. The history behind the show and how it even got started was enough to get anyone hooked.
The video (although slightly longer than I would have liked) illustrates a very complex plot and uses a minimalist overlay of text. Sure, as far as ads go, not breaking any molds. Why would it need to? The show does that all on its own. Overall, it aided in establishing the fandemonium of GOT viewers, but little else. Get ready for winter, it arrives in Spring of 2019.
2. SQUARESPACE WITH KEANU
Yes, a Superbowl ad. I mean, they paid for the spot, so it has to be good, right? In most cases, meh. But I personally love Keanu Reeves. He is an all around amazing guy, actor and philanthropist. Squarespace has some pretty fierce competition. Most notably with Wix. So my not bring an icon to the table?
In the spot, Adventures in Success by Will Powers plays while the screen pans into a man surfing a motorcycle. Part of me felt homage to the Matrix in this scene.
In the middle of a desert you see Keanu Freaking Reeves! So much yes! Pretty sure, Squarespace won this round Wix. Only to follow it up with another ad. The second shows Reeves’ explaining Reeves’ his own small business story, again in a desert. Overall, a witty brand spot, something that people will want to watch over and over again.
3. TIDE SUPERBOWL
Superbowl ad #2. I’ve seen stranger things (pun intended) that a Super Bowl commercial of Tide, starring David Harbour. It’s quick, to the point and downright quirky.
I’ve heard everyone talking about this ad after its release. In some parts it is illogical but still, a total work of genius. The series of ads showcase various clichéd ads for generic products featuring Harbour who claims that all these are nothing but Tide ads since they feature “clean clothes”.
“If it’s clean, it’s a #TideAd”. Although a tad bit disjointed, this one deserved all the hype it got in 2018.
4. STABILO BOSS HIGHLIGHTERS
DDB Dusseldorf’s “Highlight the Remarkable,” won at the Cannes Lions. That was the starting point on a road to worldwide acclaim. After this year’s festival, the campaign—highlighting the women who might be otherwise overlooked in a historic photo—was shared passionately across social media.
Print media isn’t dead. Although these ads took a life of their own on the social media platform. A great piece highlighting the effectiveness of women in history in a clever and witty way. Simple and to the point, like a great ad should be. Well deserved DDB. Albeit, I am curious to see the outcome for the brand identity post campaign.
5. A FINGER LICKING GOOD APOLOGY
Sometimes we get to work on our dream clients and sometimes you have a deadline and need something to feel the void. I’ve worked in various industries over the years and when crisis hits, hot dang, it is a stressful time.
Kudos to KFC for stepping up in a big way. When disaster struck KFC, and it ran out of chicken. Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, was just Kentucky Fried. How would you respond? You know customers are bound to be frustrated and irate. How do you even begin to offer a sincere apology?
KFC’s marketing team chose wit. And at the same time managed to convey its message, on-brand. Content wise, outstanding. The fall out? Minimal. Although it does bring up a good question. How personally offended do customers get when things go wrong? I feel companies should be willing to tackle issues head on like KFC. Great work on such a short deadline.
6. NIKE BELIEVE IN SOMETHING
I really, really wanted this to be the top ad of 2018. It almost made it, but the number 1 (technically 7.1) barely beat it out.
You all know Colin Kaepernick’s story. During Nike’s 30th anniversary of its iconic “Just Do It” tagline. Kapernick’s activism and inclusion into Nike’s recent ad went viral. #NikeBoycott was trending on Twitter by Tuesday morning, and Nike shares were falling as Wall Street reacted to the news.
Kaepernick flew into the spotlight when, to protest racial injustice, he decided to kneel rather than stand for the national anthem before a 2016 National Football League preseason game. The NFL denies his allegation. The NFL was denied a summary judgment against Colin Kaepernick and there has been no update since the start of December.
Despite Kaepernick’s appearance in it, the new Nike commercial isn’t overtly political. It makes no reference to “taking a knee.” Instead, it sticks to the inspirational tone that Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is famous for. The beauty of this campaign is the hysteria about one character from it. It is controversial without actually being controversial.
Nike is the personification of the athleticism. This ad hits on all cylinder and really causes a whirlwind of reaction. No news is bad news, however, bad news can be good news. I love that Nike took a stand and didn’t waver in their execution. Albeit, the brand did suffer a bit, but that is progress. This ad is one to remember.
7.1 TINDER START SOMETHING EPIC
This is probably one of the most fun and engaging ads of 2018. Tinder India has totally hit gold with their #StartSomethingEpic campaign.
In this advert, we have a young girl who is on a quest to meet new guys. I can’t help but feel a time warp to the 1950’s and a bit of a gender role reversal. The quirky background score and addictive dance moves are original and inventive. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar in the North American landscape in 2019. Heck, I’d love to map out this advert myself.
I love the analog swipe left/right motif in the video when she rejects and accepts guys. Tinder, well deserved props.
So why 7.1? Unlike the other ads, this ad is sensational and cinematically, it hits all the marks. It does what ads are supposed to do. It sheds the awkwardness related to online dating without acknowledging the issue head on. Or at least it gives the good ol college try. It is tough to create a message of change amidst a society built on conventional traditions. This ad takes controversy and flips the script. More than 35% of marriages start from an online date (based on my immediate friend circle). Heck, I found the love of my life on a dating app (not Tinder). But this ad will surely bring in users.