Advertisers do their best to entertain us. But, to do that in 30 to 180 seconds is not that easy. It can make or break a brand, and change a company’s perception forever. We see – consciously or unconsciously hundreds of ads every day. But only a few really grab us – in a good way, or a bad way.
We at Filestage set out to find the best television and social media advertisements from the past few years. We collected information based on the most likes, views and shares on YouTube. In addition, we looked at leading articles and rankings established by famous media and marketing magazines. We also searched Cannes Lions and CLIO advertising award winners for the best Super Bowl ads.
The Best Food and Beverage Commercials
For food and beverage commercials it is advantageous, if they can make the product look mouth-watering. It almost turns the product into a self-seller. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have perfected the art of “staging” their products.
We can all relate to their steamy ads, in which it is always hot and their hot characters are always thirsty. Don’t we all, all of a sudden, fancy that ice-cold can of Coke that we saw in the commercial?
Doritos (2014): “Finger Cleaner”
Three guys are sitting in the garage of a car repair business, eating Dorito chips. After they’re done eating, they stick their fingers down a hole to clean them. As the commercial continues, one guy discovers that it’s not a machine licking the Doritos dust off his fingers, but a man.
Doritos created this advert for the brand’s slot during the Superbowl. As if that wasn’t enough, the winner would also receive a million dollars and get the chance to be part of the next Iron Man film.
The “Finger Cleaner” commercial was one of the five finalists in Doritos’ eighth annual Crash the Superbowl contest. The commercial hasn’t won the contest. But, as opposed to the winners, it became an online favorite and gained media attention from all over the world.
Budweiser (1999-2008): “Whassup True”
A group of dudes calling each and saying “Whassup” to one another in a comical way.
To be honest, it’s totally played out by now — but back in 1999 to 2006 Budweiser’s “Whassup” ad campaign set a new trend. The commercial ran worldwide and became a pop-culture catchphrase. People in the real world started greeting each other by saying “Whassup?”, or “Wazzup?”. The idea caught on. Series of follow-up ads were published and changed the way “bros” greeted each other for years to come.
In May 2006, the campaign was inducted into the CLIO Hall of Fame. In 2008, they launched another version of the ad with the same cast. The 2 minute film had a political background. Firstly, it was geared towards addressing the presidency of George W. Bush, but also worked as a clear endorsement of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
It won almost every major award in the industry. This video was also nominated for the Favorite User Generated Video Award. But make up your own mind and compare the “Whassup” ad from 2000 with the 2008 version.
“This is by far the most iconic, pop-culture spiking and memedad of the 21st century. It is funny as shit, loved by all, and has that effortless, don’t-take-itself-too-seriously confidence that most brands wish they could achieve.”
Robert Wong, Chief Creative Officer of Google Creative Lab and an Ad Age judge
Chipotle (2013): “The Scarecrow”
A scarecrow approaches a smoke-spewing factory with the name Crow Foods Incorporated. Fiona Apple’s cover of “Pure Imagination” plays in the background, while the scarecrow goes about his workday. He watches how a machine produces fake meat that’s later classified “100% Beef-ish”. Robots inject a green fluid into chicken that makes them expand like a balloon. The scarecrow also sees a cow with scared eyes inside a tight metal box.
At the end of the day the scarecrow returns back to his little farm. There is no life or plants around his home. After seeing a red pepper, the lighting brightens and the music becomes happier. The scarecrow harvests vegetables and opens a burrito stand in the city with a banner saying “Cultivate a Better World”.
After the first successful ad “Back to the Start”, which was actually never intended to be an ad, Chipotle succeeded a second time with a strong message against factory farming. They launched the scarecrow commercial, accompanied by an interactive game. This ad is even more successful than the first one.
But not everyone was impressed, Funny or Die considers the video as purely sanctimonious, with no substance. They remind the viewer that Chipotle is a giant corporation, which is not interested in sustainability or animal welfare. They just want to make us buy burritos. So does Chipotle showcase commitment to sustainability, or is it just a strategy to make money?
“We’ve never professed to being perfect. The commitment we’ve made is to constant improvement. The Scarecrow is set in a world where the plant is run by robotic crows, so it’s clearly a fictitious portrayal. The film is meant to highlight issues like the overuse of antibiotics, harsh confinement of animals, the extent to which food is processed.”
– Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s Communications Director
Coca-Cola (1979): “Mean Joe Greene”
After a football game, a young boy finds an exhausted “mean” Joe Greene. Joe Greene is not really interested in speaking to his fan… until the boy offers him his Coke. Greene finally accepts and chugs down the soda. Then, as the fan turns to leave, Greene yells after him, and, with a smile, throws his jersey to him.
The Coke commercial changed Joe Greene’s life. He became an overnight media darling, as fans got to see the gentler side of his tough-guy image. The ad was so popular, it was turned into a made-for-TV movie in 1981. Even though the spot is no longer shown on TV, it remains fixed in the minds of American sports fans. Greene still receives about two cans of Coke every month with a request to autograph them. Yet the ad has been consistently voted one of the greatest Super Bowl ads of all time.
“I was suddenly approachable. Little kids were no longer afraid of me, and older people – both women and men – would come up and offer me a Coke.”
– Joe Greene, Former NFL Player
The Best Automotive Commercials
Car brands often use famous actors, luxury, a family-friendly brand image or things you never expect to create their new adverts.Take a look at how he following brands, for example, are presenting their new features or benefits in different ways.
Hyundai (2016): “First Date”
Kevin Hart plays an overprotective dad who lets his daughter’s date take his new car for their first night out – with a hidden motive. He is able to stalk his daughter due to a new car- finding feature. Kevin keeps her date in check as they visit a series of romantic places.
A father’s worst nightmare comes true. His daughter has her first date. Every Dad will go to all sorts of lengths to protect his daughter. And now, with the help of Car Finder on the Hyundai Genesis, we get to see just how far one dad is willing to go.
This “car finder” feature could be the worst nightmare for teens, second only to discovering that their parents are on Facebook. Ever since the movie “Get Hard” we know Kevin Hart is a tough guy, but this ad shows, he also has a sweet side in a funny way. The outcome was a big boost in sales for Hyundai and Kia Motors.
Volvo Trucks (2015): “ Look Who’s Driving feat. 4-year-old Sophie”
A girl is driving an 18 ton truck with a specially designed remote control. She puts the truck through some serious maneuvers in a construction area. The 4-year-old steers it through a thick brick wall, straight into a building and all the way to a full 360-degree turn.
The commercial demonstrates the new functionalities of Volvo trucks. Those include automatic traction control and an all-wheel drive system that runs automatically when needed. It’s one thing to say your truck is “the toughest truck ever built”.
But it’s another to hand it to a 4 year old girl and let her crash it through buildings. It looks as though she was playing with a toy car in a sandpit. The message behind this is simple: Volvo wants to prove how much the truck can withstand and how easily it manages demanding environments.
“To show what the truck can do, we wanted to give it a real challenge. What test driver is more reckless than an unpredictable four-year-old?”
– Ricard Fritz, Vice President of Volvo Trucks.
The Best Video Game Commercials
Commercials for video games are among the best performing video ads. The following ad is a great example:
Clash of Clans (2015): “Ride of the Hog Riders”
In the midst of a battle, a man riding a hog shouts to call for backup. Soon a herd of men, abandon their previous activities to rescue him. Watch how the hog riders and their hogs spend their spare time before they are called to the clash of the clans.
This game has become the basis for war games. Youtube has revealed the top-performing ad videos posted and Clash of Clans has taken all the top three spots.
The best part of the ad is the view into the private life of a hog rider, a muscle-bound man with the voice of an angel and his army.
Most of the time they are engaged in manly activities like arm-wrestling, poker, fixing fences – and then, there’s a guy taking a bath with his hog.
Showing the characters with different personalities, hobbies and interests – no matter how weird they might be – is funny and cute, but also kind of brilliant.
The Best Sports Commercials
Sport events are always among the most watched TV broadcasts and many people pay extra for sport TV channels. So producing sports commercials is a reliable way to reach a large audience.
Reebok (2003): “Terry Tate Office Linebacker”
NFL linebacker Terry Tate enforces office rules the only way he knows. With bone crushing tackles and hardcore trash talk like “WOOH! BITCH!!!”, directed at unproductive office workers. After one worker has poured the last cup of coffee, he screams “You kill the joe, you make some mo!”
The ad entertains and attracts attention without mention of a specific product. It was notable for over 20 million downloads from Reebok’s website after only one Super Bowl airing.
Note: Never be late again, Terry Tate could be around the corner 😉
Other Types of Commercials
In this category, you are going to find commercials about body hygiene and a new app for a better sex life. Producing ads in this sensitive field can be quite challenging, because you need to hit the right tone and taste for your target group.
Old Spice (2010): “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”
A fit guy informs women how their men could be as amazing as he is by using Old Spice body wash. At the same time, he transitions from a bathroom to a sailboat and finally to ride a horse on the beach. It doesn’t make a lot of sense when you read it, so better watch it yourself.
The campaign targets female viewers, despite the product’s target audience being male. The company determined that women frequently make purchasing decisions for male household members. Even though we know that our men won’t turn into a romantic millionaire with a boat, this commercial definitely gives us the feeling that it might happen when they use Old Spice.
Durex (2015): “Connect-App”
For inspiration, Durex looked to modern habits and noticed the growing reliance on portable technology. They partnered with Siren Mobile, a dating app company, to improve the sex lives of millions of people around the world.
Watch what happens when some adventurous couples try the sexy new smartphone technology. Anyway, to cut a long story short, you may want check it out yourself. Note: Please watch till the end 😉
Isn’t the end a bit confusing, or did you expect that? Sometimes it’s the small things that make life easier. The app gives couples the opportunity to turn off each others’ phone.
I guess the message of the commercial is to focus on the essentials. We should perhaps spend more time with people we love than on our phones!
Every month thousands of new commercials are launched. In most cases we are not even aware of all of them. Some communicate a special message, others advertise a new product or place their focus on entertainment. Many ads went viral in social media but never aired on. They are successful nonetheless.
On the other hand, there are ads which are no longer in circulation or famous, but still remain in the minds of people. One of the best example is “Whaassup?”, because it’s still well known worldwide.
But who can definitively judge what’s good or bad? Taste usually depends on your own background, culture and values, so advertising can’t be judged objectively. And even though an advertisement receives millions of clicks, that doesn’t mean that an ad is good or successful. In the end advertising should attract people and evoke positive feelings towards a brand and/or increase sales.
Marketing changed my perception of life. Affecting people with a minimum of resources, understanding how they think and what we can do to keep them hungry for more, that’s what fascinates me the most.