The Top 5 Most Strategically-Driven Advertisements of 2013

2013 marked what I like to deem as the start of the “human era.” I’m not alone, as Hill Holliday later released a white paper stating the same thing. More than ever, people crave authentic stories and companies that value them as individuals. The rise of social media has allowed people to cut through the bureaucracy of large companies–to see them for what they are. As such, personable, transparent communications  have never been more important. Advertising built on a sound strategy that helps reduce the distance between brand and consumer, such as the ads featured below, will  continue to come to the forefront in 2014.

*Note: These ads were chosen for their ability to utilize insights effectively, they aren’t necessarily my personal favorites.*

1. Chipotle “Scarecrow”

A continuation of the “Back to the Start” advertisement that has received rave reviews from consumers and industry experts alike. It may not be very popular with marketing execs, but it does have 11.6 million views on YouTube. This ad lines up with a consumer desire to know where their food comes from and to live a more healthy lifestyle. It positions Chipotle as daring enough to take on the establishment. The introduction of an app-based game gives Chipotle another medium to show how they “cultivate a better world.”

2. Skype “Family Portrait” Campaign

Rather than explain the features of Skype, these ads show the end benefit to consumers. Skype connects people; it makes the world a close-knit place. Since Skype is free, barring some extra features, all the ad needs to do is get more people to use Skype.

3. PlayStation 4 “Perfect Day”

The juxtaposition between a classic song and visually aggressive behavior provides the perfect backdrop for what console gaming is about. Men (and it has been mostly male since video games were engendered in the late 1990s) want to play online with their mates as a way of socializing in a competitive environment. No other ads have captured the reason men game better than this one.

4. Coca-Cola “Let’s Go Crazy”

Coca-Cola wanted to spread happiness, but it is tough to do that in today’s world of 24/7 bad news. The folks at DAVID The Agency discovered towards the end of 2012 that kindness was the best way to spread happiness, as 98 percent of consumers agree that it’s the key to a happier world. By highlighting positive stories of people giving, they were able to create a campaign that resonates globally.

5. Toshiba “The Beauty Inside” (crowdsourced short)

Mac is cool, but Toshiba…not so much. That’s the problem Toshiba faced when trying to stay relevant to younger generations.  In response, Pereira & O’Dell created several short films that utilized social sites such as Facebook.  “The Beauty Inside” story spilled onto social media and continued beyond the confines of film. It won several awards and made the Toshiba brand a little more desirable to youth.

Honorable Mentions:

Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”

Famous Footwear “A Letter to Mom”

Dodge Ram “Farmer” (See my criticism)

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God Made a Farmer, Ram Might’ve Been There Too

I really wanted to like Richards Group’s ‘God Made a Farmer’ ad. In a Super Bowl characterized by  humdrum creative, it was the only ad to dare to be original. Paul Harvey’s speech spoke to the steadfast American spirit. The imagery was moving and reminded us the value of a good day’s work.

But something just felt… wrong. It didn’t (overly) bother me that the ad romanticized modern day farm life. Or that it didn’t nearly represent modern ethnic diversity in farms. Nor did it irk me that it wasn’t wholly original. I get why there’s criticism surrounding those issues, but it’s not about that.

It’s the moment that  Ram appears at the end that ruins it for me. It’s in that final moment that the ad loses its magic. It’s no longer a tribute to farmers, it’s a pitch to sell trucks.

If Ram truly wanted to make a tribute to farmers, they wouldn’t have made the final moment a picture of an empty Ram truck with no farmers in it. I understand that Ram’s goal is to ultimately sell trucks. So put your Ram in the ad but don’t make it the ultimate focal point of the ad–it’s disingenuous.

Last year’s Halftime in America, now that was a tribute to the enduring American spirit. The story included Chrysler from the start, not as a side note. It didn’t force the Chrysler brand into the commercial, it was a part of the commercial. Chrysler was struggling, just as Detroit was struggling.  Chrysler was absolutely integral to the story.

You can’t be a motor city without a motor. You can be a farmer without a truck.