Judging creativity in Advertising is a very subjective business. There is no algorithm (yet!) that can definitively say whether or not your ad is good or bad. That said, let me present my infallible, 100% correct and unassailable list of 5 ads that suck and 5 ads that don’t.
5 ADS I LOVE
- Jaguar. The Super Bowl of Advertising is well, the SuperBowl. And in 2015 Jaguar made what I think is one of the best car ads of all time. This spot is a throwback to big, old-school celebrity packed advertising. This ad features some top-notch copywriting, a great tagline, a concept that I can’t believe someone didn’t do before 2015 and a whole shit load of cool brits with upper-crust accents.
- Always. There are ads, then there are ads that should be used as litmus tests to see if you are worthy of being called a human being. I’ve seen this ad 5000 times. I get all weepy every time I see it. Every. Single. Time. Flawlessly executed, let’s give a shout out to a client who was brave enough to be one of the first brands to pivot away from boring absorbency ads to the greater message of female empowerment. Watch it now and get some tissues handy. I’M NOT CRYING. SHUT UP! YOU’RE THE ONE WHO IS CRYING.
- Dos Equis. I’m a copywriter by trade, so when an ad that makes me say, “Damn I wish I wrote that.” that’s the greatest compliment you can give as a creative. The Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World has made me say that multiple times. I love this campaign for many reasons: it had legs, it literally went on for years (in fact I can’t really understand why they stopped it). It had a great tagline “Stay Thirsty, My Friends” preceded by an even greater step-up line: I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. The bravery and honesty of this line cannot be underestimated. It’s genius in its subtlety and it honestly wins you over. It sounds like a real endorsement from a friend, which is saying something considering it’s coming from a fake cartoon of a spokescharacter. True story: I was in my car listening to the radio when a Most Interesting Man spot came on the air. It had the line: “He’s lover. Not a fighter. But he’s also a fighter, so don’t try anything.” And I laughed so hard I almost drove my car off the road. Just between us chickens: this whole campaign is better on the radio than it is on TV.
- Sony. Here’s a spot that says it all, without saying one word. Sony wanted to announce the arrival of the BRAVIA LCD and 3LCD TVs and to do so they launched 250,000 colored bouncing balls (real time) down the streets of Russian Hill in San Francisco. The message conveyed? Color like no other. How good is it? The spot is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long and it is MESMERIZING. So simple. So good.
- Snickers. I’m a sucker for a great positioning and the Snickers work from BBDO has one of the best. It’s not a candy bar, it’s an antidote for hungry. The most recent work pushes the outer limits of that territory with the tagline ‘You’re Not You, When You’re Hungry’ In this fun spot ‘not you’ translates to ‘Betty White’. I love this spot: the dialogue, the casting and of course, watching Betty White being tackled by a 200lb man. Cherry on the Sunday? ABE VIGODA!
5 ADS I HATE
- SafeAuto Insurance is currently running an “attempting to be Geico-esque” campaign centered around a fictional Swedish Artificial Intelligence device called Farnhaan. In each spot, something strange happens involving the AI device and then a VO interrupts saying: That doesn’t sound right! Then they start talking about car insurance rates. My huge problem with this is that they never close the loop on the structure of the spot. If you have a VO saying “That doesn’t sound right!” you need to follow it with something along the lines of “But here’s something that does!” You need to close the loop, GODDAMMIT! See every Geico spot ever made and you’ll see what I mean. Not closing the loop is like singing “Shave and a haircut” and then ending the song before singing “Two Bits!”
- The CarFox. Fuck the CarFox. And fuck CarFax for foisting this travesty on the public. Hands down the worst, laziest attempt at making a spokescharacter ever. I can see the agency pitching this to the client: “See YOU guys are called CARFAX. But his name is….carFOX. Get it? It’s like FAX. But it’s FOX! Please don’t fire us.” The CarFox is the idea you come up with that you are ashamed you had and you immediately throw it away, take a shower and get back to work thinking of better ideas. Instead, this one went to the client, who bought it. Also, watch the spot and really look at and listen to the CarFox. He’s what you create by actively AVOIDING making one creative, interesting decision through the entire process. Bland, generic white guy voice? CHECK. Is he CLEARLY LABELED as the CARFOX, lest the viewer not realize that he is INDEED the CARFOX? CHECK. Does his plain white T-Shirt use the most boring font? CHECK. What about his pants? Are they something boring too? Like say, khakis? CHECK. The awfulness doesn’t stop there: Does the actor who ‘represents the customer’ plainly state the brief as stilted dialogue? CHECK. Is the spot a boring demo? CHECK. Does it end with the man using a laptop in case people don’t realize it’s a website? CHECK.
Jesus Christ. Fuck this whole campaign.
- Enterprise Rent-a-car. This one, admittedly, is an oldie but a goodie. Here are the things about this ad that warms my heart.
- a)The woman makes a call from a REPAIR SHOP. We know this because she says, “Enterprise? I’m at the REPAIR SHOP.” Then, in case you didn’t get it, she’s under the worlds most uninteresting sign that screams REPAIR SHOP. Apparently, the shop owners have no creativity whatsoever when it came to naming their own business.
- b) The creepy facial expression for the Enterprise Rep/Serial Rapist. Just off screen, there is a skin-suit hanging on a peg.
- c) The unexplained unwrapping of the car from brown paper. Obviously, a hold-over from an older campaign that senior management wants to keep.
- d) The awesome tagline: “We’ll pick you up!”
See the awesomeness in its entirety!
- Triscuit. Dear God, why would you waste Cecily Strong for this garbage. And nothing makes my mouth water like repeating the words Non Genetically Modified over and over. Also, WHY WOULD YOU WASTE CECILY STRONG ON THIS? She easily had to be between 350- 500,000 bucks to get. The fact that this spot ends with her winking at the camera makes me sad deep in my bones. And the tagline ‘Make ‘scuit Happen’ is a reach at edginess that falls way short.
5. Papa Johns. Fuck that guy and his shitty pizza.