Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 12 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 25-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

There were a few flecks of “glitter amongst the chicken feed”* this past year in advertising. I’ve dug out the brightest flecks and washed the chicken poop off of them (and my hands) for this presentation. Posted in no particular order.

Note: This roundup is based on one thing: how well the ads creatively sell the product. It’s not about Important ads or Inspiring ads because, duh, they’re ads. It’s about the C-word.

1. Mahindra pickup truck, “Heavy” (South Africa)

The new Mahindra, an Indian brand, tows up to 2 1/2 tons. That’s heavy. As is waking up after a three-year coma to this scenario. Agency: Joe Public, Johannesburg.

2. Lanaudière funeral home (Canada)

Funeral home ads usually feature a photo of the director and his son(s) in suits, smiling (but not too much!). Montreal’s Résidence funéraire de Lanaudière went in a different direction, headlined, “Every death is unique.” Storytellers? This is storytelling. Blown-up copy below:

The press note from the campaign says the campaign was created “to raise awareness of the quality of their personalized service.” The beautiful illustrations convey that without saying it. Agency: Brad, Montreal, which is fast becoming my new favorite shop.

3. Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, “Teddy Gun”

I don’t usually include public service announcement/nongovernmental organization work in these roundups, but this spot by FCB Chicago and director Ben Flaherty is so visually simple and powerful, the message hits directly home. Of course, all anti-gun ads are completely useless these days. But creative efforts like this should still be recognized. (See this powerful 2013 commercial for States United to Prevent Gun Violence, too, by Grey NYC.)

4. Jolly Rancher, Puerto Rico

“Keep on sucking” — Bwa-ha-ha! Probably a scam ad, but who cares? It’s perfect, and it’s the best one of these stupid timeline ads I’ve ever seen. Agency: Young & Rubicam, San Juan.

5. BMW, USA

The message: unlimited mileage warranty. The creative: spot on. There are two more commercials in the campaign, but “Beach” is the best. Agency: KBS New York.

6. Google Pixel 2, USA

OK, here’s a big fucking ad for a big fucking client, which usually don’t make my lists. Also, it’s over 90 seconds, which no ad ever should ever be. (Edit yourself, “content creators.”) But this is good. It’s got about an hour of “content” packed in under two very entertaining minutes. And it sells me on the phone much better than any of Apple’s “pleasure yourself while looking at how beautiful we can portray our phone design” ads. Agency: Droga5. Honorable mention in this category: this YouTube spot by AMV BBDO, London.

7. Smart Fortwo, Germany

Message: Car is small = faster parking, something any city driver desperately gets. And the creative here, by BBDO Berlin, is goddamn brilliant. I hate them, it’s so good. And the production spend is about 10 euros! Here are the other two spots from the campaign, “Salsa Class” and “Stove.”

*Line is from “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by John le Carré.

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