The 6 best ads you didn’t see this year

Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 11 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 25-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours. 

Have you seen the best ads of the year? Adweek’s list looks like Creative Review’s list which looks like AdAge’s list, except they don’t have a list, because they dole out their “best” ads one at a time because they think they’re the “authority.”

This was not a good year for ads, and when I say “ads,” I mean product ads. There were several good PSAs. “Graham” by Australia’s TAC was the best PSA of 2016. But PSAs are easy assignments. I can’t remember the last great product ad I saw. It’s been several years.

But it’s the end of the year, so ad blogging protocol demands that I “curate” a “best of…” list. So here are six good 2016 ads you maybe haven’t seen yet that don’t include Spike Jonze’s stupid Kenzo “film.” (Here’s a good Spike Jonze ad from 14 years ago.)

Secret Deodorant, “Namaste”

Hey guess what, people? Women sweat and stink, too. Bravo, Wieden & Kennedy, for the nice simple and true (remember truth in advertising?) and funny scenario. See how easy it is to make good advertising, you buzzwordy dimwits?

2. McDonald’s coffee, “Wake Up”


Brief: McDonald’s brews fresh coffee, 24/7. Brief answered with nicely graphic executions (isn’t it nice to see the lost art of art direction?) that even smoothly incorporate the logo into the message. Agency: Leo Burnett, Dubai (see the whole campaign here).

3. Ageas Insurance, “Ocean Zorb”

“‘Back Me Up,’ a new type of insurance for your mishaps, through an app.” Here’re all four spots in the campaign by M&C Saatchi, London. But “Ocean Zorb” dude here is the clear winner because of the excellent struggling-man sound design (put on your headphones) and because of the anticipation of the coming mishap. (I wanted a Harpoon missile.) And because … IT’S SIMPLE. I can’t say that enough, and I won’t stop saying it, you dumbass digital muddlers.

4. Savant Fabogesic, “Move”

This is an example of the execution positively crushing the strategy. That’s all I say. Just watch it. It won a Gold Lion at Cannes last summer, and it actually deserved it. Agency: JWT Buenos Aires.

5. Babbel, “Tiny Whale”

Language schools/apps are a hotbed for scam print ads, particularly in South America. But this spot by Wieden & Kennedy London is real, and really well executed. And instead of showing you a negative scenario of not being able to speak a language — the usual strategy — Babbel gives you a positively charming scene. It brightened my day. Slightly.

6. Volvo, “ABC of Death”

This is a spec spot, but a rare spec spot approved by the brand. There have been a ton of ads (many of them fakes) done for automatic driving/braking systems in the last few years. This is the best, so far. Created by Filmmakers Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebherz. Read the backstory on Adfreak.

See ya next December.

Previously: The 5 best ads you didn’t see in 2015.

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