Ad of the Day – February 28 (Hamburg)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Jung von Matt
  • Location: Hamburg
  • Client: OBI (home improvement chain)
  • Name: Renovated Billboards
  • Category: OOH/Ambient
  • Why I like it: This is quite genius. A sublime integration of message, medium, brand, end-benefit…it’s all there in a way that is exceedingly rare (the only other example that comes to mind is the “smarter cities” effort by IBM/Ogilvy Paris, and that one won a Cannes Grand Prix in outdoor!)  Try and ignore the case video, which manages to say in 90 seconds what should be said in far less. Focus instead of the boundary-breaking thinking that is behind this…taking limits and crushing past them, redefining what the medium is and how it comes to life. Great work, and impossible to ignore. 

Ad of the Day – February 27 (New York)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

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You can access the actual web site by clicking here.

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Mccann
  • Location: New York
  • Client: Cuervo (tequila)
  • Name: Cuervo is 250 years old
  • Category: Website
  • Why I like it: Storytelling-driven website design. Who would have thought it would work so well? Normally when it comes to web design one thinks of functional things, like user experience, and some more emotional (yet still technical) things like aesthetics, typography, color palette, etc. But…story? That’s reserved for the content, if at all – right? Well, here is an example where it plays a central role in the design, and boy does it work. It communicates the long history of the brand, its philosophy, its tone, and of course its products and much more…all in a story-infused style that keeps things delightfully interesting. Big fan.

Ad of the Day – February 26 (Los Angeles)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: ?
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Client: Vans (shoes & apparel)
  • Name: Living off the wall
  • Category: Documentary series
  • Why I like it: You’re a brand that has something to say to a loyal audience. Years ago perhaps you would have spent it all on a 30 second tv ad and a 12 week media plan. An all-or-nothing gamble. Today, the world is your oyster. The end game has evolved from ad to content, and thus the opportunity for a brand to be present and meaningful has stretched to 365 days out of the year. What Vans has done is just one amazing example. They’ve shot a documentary series that brings to life the soul of the brand through the lives and experiences of its fans. It’s interesting, compelling, ownable, and has a point of view – something that is very hard to achieve in a 30s tvc. Above is only the trailer of the series, but I urge you to check out the web site by clicking here (it’s gorgeously designed!) and some of the episode videos, shot from LA, to Russia, to China. TV is still king and should be respected. But thinking “content” has freed the minds of creative agencies around the world, and this is a great thing.

Ad of the Day – February 21 (London)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Adam&eveDDB
  • Location: London
  • Client: VW
  • Name: Parachute
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: The most powerful truths are often those that are staring us right in the face. When it comes to talking about cost, marketers and creatives often prefer to talk about “value” instead, usually contorting the message into crazy positions in order to make the cost more palatable. “You get what you pay for” is such a powerful, universally recognized truth, and yet you rarely see it mentioned. Why? Because, it takes guts and self-assurance to come out and say it (luckily VW has plenty of both.) Of course, it’s not only in the what, but also in the how. This ad is pitch-perfect in its use of humor and simple metaphors to bring to life this truth. A little gem that turns the table of “cost-apologists”…well done! 

Ad of the Day – February 21 (New York)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Note: we hardly ever feature campaigns, but if you have 2 minutes you must go to the site to really understand the magnitude and the fun. Above is a “behind the scenes video”, but don’t miss the trailer, the motion board the focus groups…all for the ad the would have shot if they had money. Go here:

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Droga5
  • Location: New York
  • Client: Newcastle Brown Ale
  • Name: If we made it (behind the scenes video)
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Advertising can be a tough business, with solitary moments of inspiration surrounded by a lot of daily slog and frustration. But the great thing is, while you may sometimes throw your hands in the air and “give up” on advertising…advertising doesn’t give up on you. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, just when the cynic inside attempts to take over, advertising surprises you with something unexpected, something unique, or beautiful, something that makes you stop and say, “wow”. Here’s one example. The best ad in the Super Bowl…wasn’t actually in the Super Bowl. In fact, it didn’t even get filmed…because they didn’t have enough money. And yet the results are…”wow”. To take a common weakness (no money!) and to turn it into such a magnificently entertaining display of brand personality…it’s amazing. Definitely goes on the “wish I had done that” folder.

Ad of the Day – February 19 (Paris)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: BETC
  • Location: Paris
  • Client: Lacoste
  • Name: The Big Leap
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: It’s a very pretty ad to take in, and it has a certain retro cinematic feel that stands out in today’s aesthetic. The core idea is one that everyone can relate to (the nerve-wracking moment when you decide to “go for it”,) and it’s brought to life with drama, cool special effects, fantastic music, great pacing, and a lot of chemistry between the actors. Only a weak role of the brand keeps this from being truly special as an ad – but as a piece of film it’s 60 seconds very well spent.

Super Bowl ads 2014 – the Adboardingpass review! (part 2)



CLICK HERE if you missed part 1

OK…now that we’ve gotten the ugliness out of the way, and without further ado, the Adboardingpass TOP 10 of Superbowl 2014!

1. Duracell “Trust your power”

“But I’ve been deaf since I was 3, so I didn’t listen.” Wow. Fantastic. Extremely touching, a gripping story of the persevering human spirit, made even more powerful because it’s a true story, featuring one of the star players in the Super Bowl! Add to this good (enough) linkage of the brand and great production values, and what you’ve got here is the best ad in this year’s Super Bowl. One that hits all the right notes without faltering. First Class

2. Heinz “If you’re happy and you know it”

Very clever. It’s one of the holy grails in advertising… an ownable and unique ritual featuring the product, which triggers a moment or somehow makes the ad possible (eg: Oreo’s “twist, lick & dunk”.) It’s extremely hard to make this truly work with credibility, but I think they’ve done it here…and this is potentially something that could be extended indefinitely. Add to this a catchy jingle and mildly generic “Americana” imagery, and you’ve created a very branded, very solid Super Bowl ad! Business Class

3. Turbotax “Your day”

Absolutely fantastic. Amazing execution (the way the narrator taunts the name “Sean”, or the way Sean breaks out into his dance moves…) And most of all, driven by a great insight: original, truthful, and illuminating: that this “holiday” is actually not so for most football fans. The ad is further elevated by a credible and central role for the brand in addressing the pain of our protagonist…a compelling case to reach out and get your taxes done with Turbotax. Maybe the most unexpectedly funny ad of the day. Business Class

4. Honda”#hugfest”

I found this one very courageous. Safety is a territory that historically has been owned by others (eg. Volvo), and it would have been easier to accept it…but Honda decided to jump in and stake a claim. And they way they did it: major celebrity, speaking to you as if he were in your living room, asking you to hug someone by you…and then trying to link that to the brand’s feeling for you…wow. That’s ambitious. It’s a fine line, and they could have overplayed their hand…but the humor in the ad is what clinched it for me. Pitch perfect. Business Class

5. Coca-Cola “America the beautiful”

A sweet, loving ad in the come-together mold of the iconic “Hill top” from decades ago. Given the setting (a very American celebration), I thought it was expertly done, affecting, and (crucially) with a strong social point of view. A testament to Coke’s track record is that they’ve become one of the few companies with the cultural gravitas to pull off an ad like this. Business Class

6. Radio Shack “The Phone Call”

For such a tired brand, this one was oddly effective! Mercilessly self-effacing, but banking on the public’s ability to overlook past transgressions as long as there is a strong indication of change. If this is a re-invention for RadioShack, they’re off to a great start. A delightful ad full of 80s references that go by almost faster than you can remember them. I never expected this from them…which proves that ingrained perceptions can really start turning a corner with just a single ad! Business Class

7. U2 “Bank of America in support of RED”

Brilliant. These guys continue to push the envelope. So many things coming together here.: A beautifully shot video with a brand new song from a mass-appeal mega-band. Hard not to be drawn in if you’re a fan (and most people are, on some level.) And then…everything comes together beautifully at the end: an irresistible offer (free music!) for a great cause (even more irresistible) Everybody wins: You, U2, RED, Bank of America…which is truly rare. Much respect to finding a different wrinkle yet again. Business Class

8. TMobile “Breakup”

Excellent. It reminds me of old-school advertising: saying what needs to be said, using an approachable tone, a dash of humor, and then knowing when the hell to get out. Very crisp and void of distractions – letting the impact of the message do the talking. I’d bet this will be extremely effective. Business Class

9. Budweiser “A hero’s welcome”

This one is proof that shameless emotional manipulation, when done very, very well, can still end up working even on the most jaded hearts:) I mean, you fight it, but in the end….it gets to you. The message is right, the images are idyllic, the music is so bittersweet, and the brand is standing respectfully off to the side – always there but not ruining the moment. A balancing act, nicely pulled off by one of the few brands that can attempt a message like this successfully. I loved it. Business Class

10. Cheerios “Gracie”

Funny, true, and ambitious without being crass. A real winner. And a lesson to many of us: clueless marketers think that it’s all about product, and the emotional tension and human aspect is just a necessary diversion. Clueless agencies think it’s all about the drama and storyline, and the product is just a necessary diversion. The answer is somewhere in the middle, and this ad is a perfect example of credible product integration to drive a much bigger emotional story. Really well crafted. Business Class

And there you have it! It wasn’t the best of years, but there were certainly some gems in the mix. What did you think? Which one was your favorite? Which of your favorites did I leave out? Let me know in the comments area below. Until next year!


Super Bowl ads 2014 – the Adboardingpass review! (part 1)


How was the advertising in this year’s Super Bowl?


Examined ad-by-ad (as we’ve done in the last two years) the average was decent enough, with the customary sparkle of big budgets and/or big celebrities, and a strong sense of cheery, celebratory, largesse. But what ends up defining the year, what leaves a mark…are the height of the peaks, and the depths of the valleys.

Were there truly great ads? (or at least some truly awful disasters?)

Coming off fairly grand achievements of years past like “It’s Halftime in America”, or “Imported from Detroit”, or “Farmer”, or even Bud’s “Eternal Optimism”, this year felt decidedly subdued.

But it wasn’t for lack of trying! There were many ads that had the ambition and the ingredients for greatness. Soaring anthemic themes, grand cinematography, emotional depth, beautiful writing and more: ads such as Chevy “Life”, Microsoft “Empowering”, Chrysler “America’s Import”, Coca-Cola “Going all the way”, Maserati “Strike”, Axe “Make Love not War”, and Jeep “Restless”, among others. And yet…they just didn’t come fully live up to their potential. The leap from script to consumer’s soul didn’t happen. That magic of advertising can giveth, but it also sometimes taketh away, no matter how well you mix the ingredients.

So which were the ads that managed to stand out, even if they didn’t reach the rarified air of the all-time greats? This year we will focus on the top 10, with only one solitary ad (!) earning passage into the hallowed “First Class” status.

But first…because I know we all love to see a good train wreck too…the list of the very worst of Super Bowl 2014. They didn’t make it to first, or business, or coach…these go straight to the Baggage Cargo Hold: (click on name to view the commercial…if you insist.)

1. Toyota Highlander “Muppets”
Muppets are one of those things that most Americans remember as being waaay funnier, interesting and endearing than they actually are. They can live happily in memory-land, but when brought to the stark light of today, it’s a disaster. This ad is almost impossible to get through, a real waste of talent and money. Awful. Baggage Cargo Hold

2. Labbatt Blue “Undomesticated”
Seriously? Who is responsible for this? What does it even mean? Useless, pointless, and worst of all – boring. Baggage Cargo Hold

3. American Family Insurance “Dreams”
The ingredients are there, but it feels oddly flat. Perhaps a requirement for an anthemic ad should be for it to come from a brand that has earned the credibility and gravitas to make one. Baggage Cargo Hold

4. Doritos “Cowboy”
Oh dear. If this is the very best that comes from a consumer-generated effort, then it’s much easier to understand why you should hire an actual ad agency for your next super bowl ad. It looks like it was made by bored middle schoolers on a summer afternoon…simply not ready for prime time. Worthless. Baggage Cargo Hold

5. M&Ms “Delivery”
The “wait, what?” uttered at the end is exactly my reaction, but not in a good way. Storytelling, humor, cinematics, etc – are all there…but really what’s the point? I expect this would test ok in a focus group, but that misses the point. This is a tired campaign running on fumes, and now threatening to turn M&M’s into a tired brand. Shame. Baggage Cargo Hold

Whew. That’s was rough, but it had to be done! And now that we’ve gotten the ugliness out-of-the-way, and without further ado, CLICK HERE for the Adboardingpass top 10 of Superbowl 2014!

Ad of the Day – February 17 (Salt Lake City)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Camp4 Collective
  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Client: The North Face
  • Name: El Sendero Luminoso
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: What a liberating time we live in, where content is king and formats don’t rule the creative output. Ten years ago this mini film probably doesn’t get made, and if it  did, it would find it very hard to get seen. Today, “if you build it, they will come,” as long as the quality is there. This film is longer than most branded films, but if you get into the first minute you’ll probably end up watching the whole thing. The story is instantly compelling because it features life-or-death stakes. The cinematography is beautiful and scary at the same time. The main character comes to life and make us care (even though we think he’s a bit crazy.) And, most importantly, the role of the brand is understated yet entirely appropriate and credible. Very enjoyable…unless you’re afraid of heights! 

Ad of the Day – February 14 (London)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Fallon
  • Location: London
  • Client: Cadbury Dairy Milk
  • Name: Yes sir, I will boogie in the office
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: I love this type of ad. It makes me giddy. Sure, it may not be right for every market, or every situation, or every brand, I get it. But here and now for this brand, and under a “Free the joy” strategy, It’s more than perfect. The real genius here is how understated it is. This approach (and the way it’s executed) is where the real magic resides. Nine out of 10 times on this brief you would have seen an explosion of joy…effusive, unrestrained, office-wide dancing. But the real courage is in going precisely the other way. “When others zig…zag”. The wry smile of the actor…never bursting into a full grin, the slightly restrained dancing…never bursting into over-the top moves, the marvelous soundtrack , the subtle brand cues (notice how elegantly they use the color purple throughout.) All brilliantly underplayed, for a distinctive feel that is bubbling with joy, without over-spilling into a blatant sell-job. This is hard to do, folks, but it’s a benchmark for me (it reminds me of the Southern Comfort “whatever’s comfortable” campaign). Hats off to the team at Fallon for this one.