Adboardingpass “Best of 2013” – the Top 5

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Click here for part 1, where we go over all the highlights.

top 5

As we saw in Part 1, there was much to celebrate: advertising that was funny, emotional, well-meaning, well-executed, and much more.

But in the end, some work rises to the top. Below are the top 5 ads featured on Ad of the Day in 2013, in order of appearance. I may run out of superlatives by the end of this…

1. IBM “People for Smarter Cities”, by Ogilvy Paris!

Once you’ve picked up a Grand Prix at Cannes, there’s little more that needs to be said. A rare and wonderful “perfect storm” of idea, brand, medium and execution. Amazing.

Original write-up (June 11) Cannes can be such a lottery that making predictions is a fool’s game. But I’m going to be a fool right now and guarantee that this outdoor campaign will pick up at least one Lion next week. There’s too much that is awesome about it for it to go unnoticed…it’s exactly what I think judges will be looking for: A simple, “why didn’t I think of that before!” idea. Credible integration with the brand and its message. A great example of “show, don’t tell” (instead of just talking about IBM being useful to cities…these OOH boards are useful!). Use of media that transcends its normal limitations (this isn’t just a print ad made big.) A fetching case video. A sub-category that may likely has less competition than others. Fantastic work. Advance congratulations to my colleagues in Paris:)

2. Southern Comfort “Shampoo”, by W+K New York!

This ad just oozes class and easy charm. Along with Lion-winning companion “Whatever’s Comfortable“, it’s the type of campaign that I would kill to be involved with: confident, different, edgy, and extremely courageous in how it’s executed. Just…superb.

Original write-up (July 4) This campaign is a gem, it shines bright for its courage and its flair. This is the second ad in the series, and it sustains the momentum and the “wtf?” fascination of the first ad (if you haven’t seen the classic, Gold lion-winning first ad, click here.) The flair is in the little details: the way he just goes ahead and checks the woman out…the old-fashioned shape of his glasses…his snakeskin boots…the real-world sexiness of the woman…her subtle smile of acknowledgement…his retro ring and bracelet…all of these details set off fireworks of secondary thoughts in your brain, and add depth and story to a narrative where seemingly not much is happening. But let’s talk about the courage, because as I watch this ad I have an ongoing thought of “wtf? this…is oddly awesome…I don’t know how to feel about this but I’m drawn to it. How did they ever pull this off?” Ask a FMCG client or account person about the ideal process to get out an ad and they might say something like: 1. concept testing/validation, 2. write-up a tight, specific brief, 3. develop creative that addresses all the nuances of the brief, 4. qualitative testing to make sure consumers get it, 5. quantitative testing to hopefully have statistical validation/guarantee of the breakthrough, comprehension, and forecasted efficacy of ad, 5. Hire director to “shoot the animatic”, without much deviation from what has been validated. We may talk about creative excellence, but really the driving factor here is to minimize RISK, to get it as close to zero as possible. This has a side effect: it eliminates the need for courage. It makes sense, after all there is big money at stake, careers, etc. So that’s fine. But let’s be clear: without risk, without courage at some point, there is no chance at all for great creativity. There. just. isn’t. In the example above, I’m sure they went through steps 1,2,3 and had a nice little strategy and brief. And then…they went off-road. How do you even present an ad like this? What is it even about? An oddly-semi-cool guy getting his hair washed? Imagine the leap of faith required! Going with this campaign takes courage, it assumes risk, it gives a feeling of mild discomfort, dread, and excitement. I doubt they tested it for validation. And I bet that they hired a talented director that added a thick layer of opinion on how the idea comes to life. And that…is how you get to great creativity. It’s messy, often risky, and requires courage and guts along the way. It’s a simple recipe to jot down, but a very hard dish to cook.

3. Guinness “Surge”, by AMV BBDO in London!

If you can hang it up on your wall unchanged and have it look like an beautiful piece of art, that’s a pretty special print ad. It’s amazing how these can be so simple and powerfully distinctive at the same time. I mean, it’s a picture of the product! Ah, but it’s much more than that. Simply beautiful

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Original write-up (September 25) It almost seems unfair, really, when you have a series of print ads that are so simple – yet so filled with raw power, meaning, and brand linkage. It feels as if it should be a little more complex, a little harder to get things so right. Ah, but it is so hard. Simple is the hardest of things to pull off! A brand needs to earn the right to go for simple, and this can take years or decades of consistently laying the groundwork. And then of course, an agency and client team have to have the talent, the vision, and the courage to let the message speak for itself, without the heavy burden of add-ons that act as insurance policies. There’s nothing simple about making something look simple. And that’s why this series of print ads is the type of work that should be celebrated.

4. Mercedes-Benz “Magic Body Control”, by Jung von Matt/Neckar in Stuttgart!

The year’s best car commercial features no cars. And yet it’s all about product benefit, while being crisp clear, entirely disruptive and very memorable. That’s tough to do. It also takes a lot of courage to even attempt. More of this, please!

Original write-up (September 26) Bravo to Jung von Matt and Mercedes, for breaking one of the laws of automotive advertising! (Law 14.c.iii which states “When showcasing stability control, one must show the car in one of three situations: 1. Traversing impossibly rocky terrain, so that all four wheels are a different heights at the same time, 2. Driving around rough roads while humorously not disturbing something inside the car, like a sleeping baby or a cup of boiling coffee, or 3. Inside a modern, robotic “auto lab”, showing the car elevated, with each wheel attached to a hydraulic piston that violently shakes the axle in different directions at once.” There was nothing mentioned about chickens! Or not even showing a car! But were you instantly hooked? Did you get and understand the functional message? Were you entertained, even delighted? Did you remember who it was for? Did it leave you singing the song inside your head? Does it make you feel good towards the brand? Yeah, me too. And this is exactly why in advertising one must strive break the rules, if you’re striving for a great ad.

5. Volvo Trucks “Epic Split”, by Forsman & Bodenfors in Gothenburg!

What an accomplishment: a truck ad so so quirky that it goes viral and gets over 2 million hits (I mean…who’s in the market for a truck?). Mind you, I’m talking about the first ad of this campaign, called “The Hook“. Because the “Epic Split” ad…at 60 million views and counting…it’s almost beyond commentary. As I said back then: “we are not worthy” of Van Damme’s awesomeness:)

Original write-up (November 18) One could talk about the amazing streak of late for Volvo and Forsman & Bodenfors, with great little ads like this one, or this one. One could talk about how this ad rates so highly on replayability, shareability, and brandability, making it deliciously viral (indeed. 21 million views in a few days!). One could talk about how this is a cool torture test idea (have trucks drive in a perfect parallel line, backwards), taken to new heights by amazing writing, celebrity casting, timing, visuals, tonality, environment (sunset!), camera work (one fluid, graceful take), and sublime use of exactly the right music at exactly the right time. One could even speculate that this is a guaranteed Cannes Lion come next June. But perhaps it’s best to simply sit back, hit play, and bask in the sheer awesomeness that is this ad:) We’re not worthy.

And there you have it.

A Grand Prix winner, with multiple Cannes Lions guaranteed to come. Work that is courageous, idea-driven, brand-elevating, lovingly crafted, and expertly executed. It all equals disruptive messaging that sells, and elevates our profession in the process. Congratulations to the teams involved! If you’re reading this, I hope it’s an inspiration to aim higher. After all: Why not us? Why not now?

See you in 2014!

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Adboardingpass “Best of 2013” – the Highlights

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Part 1: Highlights of the year. Part 2: The Top 5 ads of the year

2013

What a year it has been! As we near the end, it’s time to take a look back at those ads that made a difference in our lives. The highlights were selected from among all “Ads of the Day” in 2013. Dive in and relive some of the best work of the year, from all corners of the world.

Note: click on name of ad in blue to view ad, along with the original write-up in case you missed it.

So, without further ado…

1. The “Cracked-me-up” award – because laughter is the ultimate shortcut.

Shortlist:

  • Smart Car “Offroad“, by BBDO Berlin. This car is all attitude, baby.
  • TyC Sports “Letter“, by Y&R Argentina. So awful, and yet so true.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Dove Men “Slo-mo“, by Ogilvy Rio! That hair flip just slays me!

2. Best use of technology – much of the time, technology is just fluff that is asked to make up for a weak idea. But not here!

Shortlist:

  • British Airways “Yourope“, by Ogilvy NY. So simple and obvious, yet so underused.
  • Sony Legacy “Bob Dylan“, by Interlude, NY. Wow, that’s pretty sweet.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Virgin Mobile “Blink-Washing“, by Mother, NY! My jaw dropped. See for yourself, it’s way, way cool. (click on the name)

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3. The “Let’s make the world a better place” award – because we’ve got to earn our way into heaven somehow.

Shortlist:

  • Casa do Zezinho “Help“, by ALMAP BBDO Sao Paulo. Utterly and unexpectedly charming.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

American Cancer Society “Finish the Fight“, byThe Martin Agency, Richmond, Va! Uplifting, lovely art direction, thought-provoking, great use of celebrity. (click for larger image)

American Cancer Society

4. The “Tear jerker” award – because when an ad makes you cry…it’s hard to say it’s not having an impact on you.

Shortlist:

  • Google “Reunion“, by Ogilvy Mumbai. Lovingly made, with amazing acting. Even if you can guess what’s coming, it’s still very powerful.
  • Extra gum “Origami“, by EnergyBBDO Chicago. I didn’t quite see it coming. And, being a dad, it totally got me at the end.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

British Airways “Ticket to visit mom“, by Ogilvy New York! A loving and textured film about the powerful bond between mom and son.

5. The “Storyteller” award – you start listening to a good one, and you’re hooked all the way through. It has worked since the days of cavemen, and it still does.

Shortlist:

  • Otto “Button“, by Heimat Berlin. Teases you with a storyteller’s flair. Once you’re completely hooked, comes the reveal.
  • Verizon Droid “48 Hours“, by McGarryBowen New York. It’s like a 90 second trailer for what could be a pretty cool full length feature.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Eurostar “Maybe“, by AMV BBDO in London! One of the better tourism ads I’ve seen – storytelling with real flair, done in an unconventional manner.

6. Best work from a small market – Brilliant work…but if I didn’t put the country after the city, you might not know where exactly it came from.

Shortlist:

  • World Championship Martial Arts “I woke up“, by BrandHealth Communications in Peterborough, Canada. Touching message, and lovingly executed.
  • Ecovia “Drive Safe“, byTerremoto Propaganda in Curitiba, Brazil.  Simple, hard-hitting, and amazing to look at.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Coca-Cola “Road to Hope“, by Ogilvy in Myanmar, Yangon! A lovely “road trip” story that mirrors the journey of a nation.

7. Best long-form content – It’s great to live in a time where we’re not limited to the 30 second segment…

Shortlist:

  • Virgin “VX Safety Dance“, directed by John Chu. This would totally rock. Why aren’t more airlines doing interesting things like this?
  • Mountain Dew “Human Bungee Slingshot” directed by Devin Supertramp. Totally sweeps you up with its energy and irrepresible joy.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Dolceca ice cream “Aqua Mangos“, by JWT Cairo! Jam-packed with hilarious little touches. I’d be proud to have this one on my reel.

8. The “Wow, that gave me goose bumps!” award – Emotional work that inspires, thrills, and brings a smile to your face.

Shortlist:

  • Disneyland Paris “Magical Moments“, by BETC in Paris. It captures the joy, the thrill and the whimsy in such a simple, powerful manner.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Coca-Cola “Let’s go Crazy”, by Ogilvy Rio! Work like this makes me proud to be in advertising.

9. Best use of music – An extremely powerful (and criminally underused) tool in advertising. One some of these, you could sell me anything…as long as that song is playing.

Shortlist:

  • Oreo “Wonderfilled“, by the Martin Agency, Richmond Va. Irresistibly catchy
  • Playstation 4 “Perfect Day“, by BBH New York. Prescient tribute to the late Lou Reed
  • Samsung “The Developer“, by Leo Burnett Chicago. Caught this song at its peak of the charts – amazing timing.
  • Moosehead “Wild Nights” by Sid Lee in Toronto. A peaceful, easy feeling. Just right.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

John Lewis “The Bear and the Hare“, by Adam&EveDDB in London! So much is good about this ad, but the music had me at hello.

 10. Best use of Celebrities – This is done right much less often than you think.

Shortlist:

  • Verizon Droid “48 Hours“, by McGarryBowen New York. Could it have worked without Ed Norton? Maybe – but it’s so much more interesting with him.

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Schweppes “Maybe too Schweppes?“, by China in Madrid! Such an awesome ad….only Iggy could have pulled it off so well.

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11. The “Bring on the Crazy” award – if you don’t stand apart from the crowd and get noticed, nothing else that comes after even matters.

Shortlist:

  • Dolceca ice cream “Aqua Mangos“, by JWT Cairo. Would love to have been at the pitch meeting for this idea.
  • Cosmopolitan Casino “Misfit right in“, by Fallon in Minneapolis. Nothing about this makes sense. And yet, it totally does!

And the winner iiiiiiiis…

Jack & Jones “Made from Cool“, by & Co in Copenhagen! – I was jealous of this one after only 5 seconds. They took a chance and they nailed it, the whole campaign is awesome.

And there you have it folks, the Ad of the Day 2013 highlights! Click here for Part 2, where we unveil the top 5 ads of the year (hint…none of them are included above)

Ad of the Day – December 13 (New York)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: McGarry Bowen
  • Location: New York
  • Client: Verizon Droid (mobile phone)
  • Name: 48 hours
  • Category: Filim
  • Why I like it: This is what happens when you get a semi-interesting product benefit (ok let’s be honest…it’s not that interesting. But at least it’s specific enough – battery lasts 48 hours, and it’s only one benefit and not seven!) and you had a heaping dose of storytelling, elevate it with inspired executional choices (time-hopping), and top it off with a generous helping of celebrity (Ed Norton really brings some shine to the performance.) Fantastic! The lesson here…it all really does start with the product…and the ability to select one key benefit from which to build. Imagine this same ad if the brief required you to also communicate screen resolution, audio quality, and camera lens. It completely falls apart…or worse yet, it would resemble every other phone ad out there. Kudos to McGarry Bowen and Verizon for recognizing when to go simple…and when to go all out.

 

Ad of the Day – December 11 (Istanbul)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

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selpak2_aotw  selpak3_aotw

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: TBWA
  • Location: Istanbul
  • Client: Selpak tissues
  • Name: Son, Best Friend, Lottery
  • Category: Print/OOH
  • Why I like it: Argh! This goes right onto the list of “why didn’t we think of this???” Completely charming, and awesome in how simple the idea, writing and art direction are. And yet…it’s deceptively simple…there is lots under the hood on this one. The flowchart layout takes your attention on a journey and doesn’t let go…I think our brains are incapable of not following through from top to bottom…and then starting over to see what the others routes say. You just have to do it. By the time you’re done, the ad has communicated the product benefit, has conveyed product versatility, has entertained, maybe caused a smile…and has planted a seed that might flourish next time you’re shopping for tissues (if you happen to be in Turkey!). Nicely done.

 

Ad of the Day – December 10 (Manila)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: BBDO Guerrero
  • Location: Manila
  • Client: Pantene
  • Name: Labels
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Sure, one could make a case against this ad on grounds of criminally weak branding: One could have slapped any logo on at the end. Guilty as charged, and what a shame. And yet…this one sticks with you, because the message is important and the tone is just right. Anytime you tackle these “hot issues” it’s unbelievable hard to hit the right tone. There’s a 60% chance that you come off as preachy and overbearing. And a 39% chance that you are too mild and don’t even get noticed. In between is a mere 1% sweetspot…which is why this Pantene ad should be celebrated despite its flaws. Lovely execution, amazing music, clear in its message, and (most importantly) exactly right on tonality: managing to impact and raise eyebrows, without alienating. Its assured “virality” will partially offset the weak branding…so all in all, a strong effort from the Philippines.

Ad of the Day – December 6 (London)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: N/A directed by Ed Morris, produced by Rattling Stick
  • Location: London
  • Client: Greenpeace
  • Name: An urgent message from Santa
  • Category: Filim
  • Why I like it: A good story, well told. What a great idea, taking an oblique approach to something quite familiar. I mean, really – polar bears on a drifting ice floe? Sadly the brain shuts down…it’s been done too many times. A plea for help from a haggard Santa in a dystopian setting? Now you’ve got my attention. As for execution…the choices are spot on. The lighting, the styling, the writing (a delightful mix of somber with touches of dark humor) and the tour de force acting and delivery. Done this way, it almost looks simple.

 Thanks GF for the tip.

Ad of the Day – December 5 (Yangon, Myanmar)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Yangon, Myanmar (I’m willing to bet that not one of you has ever seen a locally produced TVC from the country of Myanmar. Well, thanks to adboardingpass, now you have:) )
  • Client: Coca-Cola
  • Name: Road to Hope
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: What began as an announcement ad for a Coke-sponsored event became much grander: it became a story of resiliency – beautifully told with a sweeping, cinematic feel – that operates on three layers. The first two are visible on the screen…our protagonists’ journey mirrors the rocky but ultimately uplifting recent history of Myanmar: for decades shut off from its neighbors, but now happily re-joining the world stage. The third layer happened behind the camera, and it’s a story of resiliency too. From initial briefing, to contentious creative development, to a crazy pre-production, to an “on-the-razor’s-edge” shoot, to a harried post-production…the team mottos were “bend but don’t break”, and “on a wing and a prayer”! I was lucky to be a part of this team from start to finish, and one of the many lessons I draw is: advertising is hard. It’s hard to come up with the good ideas, it’s hard to nurture them while they’re young, it’s hard to bring them to life through production…it’s just…hard. So on top of being good…you need to tough to be in this gig. Because “safe” has an enormous gravitational pull, and it takes courage, resilience, and a little bit of luck to escape its clutches. Congratulations to the team in Ogilvy Myanmar and Coca-Cola Myanmar, a bunch of pioneers in a country that just recently re-opened its doors to the world of advertising.

 

Ad of the Day – December 4 (New York)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

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Click here to go to the site, or go to this link: http://video.bobdylan.com/

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Interlude
  • Location: New York
  • Client: Sony Legacy (recording publisher)
  • Name: Like a Rolling Stone
  • Category: Web video/interactive experience
  • Why I like it: I firmly believe that content is king, on and offline. Technology is attractive and it enables, but among all the noise and hype there is little of it that truly breaks through and offers a new way of doing things. But…there are exceptions…and they should be celebrated. Here is one: you really have to see it, so click on the link above. Of course content is still king (the song is a classic, easy to listen to, etc.) But the technology allows us to immerse ourselves in the experience…without disrupting the music. About the most interesting music video I’ve seen in a while, really, really cool. By the way, those are all actual TV stars from the real channels (they did a special cameo for use in the music video)

 

Ad of the Day – December 3 (Buenos Aires)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Y&R
  • Location: Buenos Aires
  • Client: TyC Sports (tv sports network)
  • Name: Letter
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Over the years, this sports network (and their agency Y&R) have acquired a deserved notoriety for magnificent ads extolling the virtue of sport, primarily soccer (such as this absolute gem from 2010.) Here is another in a long line of institutional ads that manage to nail the transcendence of sport, and to do so in a different way than what we’ve seen before (ah! that’s the hard part!) Really well written with each of the vignettes in perfect opposition, nicely shot (notice the color vs. black and white contrast, or the use of slow motion,) with a great accompanying track. If you love soccer (hopefully not quite as much as “Fede”!) then you’ll love this ad.