TV advertising does more than simply sell. It can capture the essence of an era or a quirk of a culture that defines the times in an indelible way. It achieves this effect through humor, charm, shock or awe yet stays in our heads and our hearts long after the runs are done. This year’s wave of work truly inspired and often sparked buzz beyond all expectations. For a look at the TV advertising that got us talking and tweeting, Adweek.com featured the following 10 commercials as the most compelling, creative, engaging, and entertaining of the year.
10. Carlton Draught, “Beer Chase” – Beer brands have made idiotic ads into an art form and this spot adds some fun to the foolishness. Four brothers stupidly celebrate a recent heist in a pub filled with police, which leads to a chase on foot rather than in their getaway car because the boys don’t want to drink and drive, yet ends with the boys on a raucous booze cruise, still clutching their original pints of beer.
9. Axe, “Susan Glenn” – This ad veers far from the brand’s prior macho manner to take on a wistful, romantic tone about the girl who got away. Kiefer Sutherland narrates over a charming montage of memories that reveals how longing is sometimes better than actually loving.
8. Procter & Gamble, “Best Job” – Apparently sentiment sells for P&G in this heart-warming TV commercial shown during this summer’s Olympics. It pays loving tribute to the moms of the athletes, while simultaneously saluting all of the mothers who help their children be their best every day.
7. Chrysler, “It’s Halftime in America” – Narrated by Clint Eastwood, this feel-good spot spoke for Detroit by expressing how the city is on the road to recovery and should serve as an inspiration that hope can conquer all. It sparked a sense of pride and newfound confidence that our country could soon regain its glory.
6. Red Bull, “Red Bull Stratos” – While not a conventional TV commercial, this video chronicled the amazing feat of Australian risk-taker Felix Baumgartner literally leaping from space to safely land on the soft sand of the New Mexico desert. Red Bull spent many years and millions of dollars to sponsor the stunt that ultimately set two records, one for the longest and fastest free fall in history, and the other for Red Bull as a record-breaking 8 million people watched live on YouTube.
5. Old Milwaukee, “Field Cut Off” – Ironically, this Super Bowl commercial received more YouTube views and Twitter mentions despite only airing in the tiny town of North Platt, Nebraska, which is the second-smallest TV market in the nation. It features funnyman Will Ferrell casually strolling through a rural field as someone tosses him a beer, which he pops open just as the screen goes black to symbolize the slick, high-speed pace of TV advertising on its hottest night.
4. DirecTV, “Charlie Sheen” – This ad irreverently shows how one bad decision can seemingly set a person’s life veering out of control. Appropriately starring today’s poster boy for poor judgment, Charlie Sheen, the spot conveys how a chain of life-threatening events can be sparked by one dumb move, which in this case is opting for cable over DirecTV.
3. Widerøe Airlines, “Grandpa’s Magic Trick” – Evoking a long-lost sense of awe about the joy of flight, this ad uses stunning scenery and a touch of fantasy to show the magic of air travel. It was originally shown only in Norway but soon grew into a Web sensation.
2. Nike, “Jogger” – This inspiring commercial shows how the physical prowess displayed by top athletes this summer at the London Olympics could also be found in a small-town jogger halfway around the world in London, Ohio. Through poignant words and moving scenes of personal triumph, the ad conveys Nike’s long-held message that greatness can be found in everyone, everywhere.
1. The Guardian, “Three Little Pigs” – This ad presents the Three Little Pigs fairytale as a modern-day news story that questions whether the act of killing the Big Bad Wolf was a crime or a rightful response to protecting their personal property. It’s a grim yet playful adaptation that shows how our society blurs the line between the criminal and the sensational.
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