Ads of the year 2013

We’ve made a list, and we’ve checked it twice. Yes folks, it’s our ten favourite ads of the year! Click through to see what we’ve picked.

We’ve made a list, and we’ve checked it twice. Yes folks, it’s our ten favourite ads of the year!


Dance Pony Dance, Three, Wieden + Kennedy London

After a long cold winter, this little Shetland pony moonwalked onto UK TV screens in March and caused a sensation. Excellent execution, a great creative idea and a Fleetwood Mac soundtrack came together to create a spot that proved that it was still possible to create brilliant ads for the telly. What a relief.



Real Beauty Sketches, Ogilvy Brazil

The latest installment in the Dove Real Beauty campaign, this work from Ogilvy Brazil was released in April and quickly went viral. A forensic artist, Gil Zamora, was commissioned to draw two portraits of a series of women: one drawing was based on how the women described themselves, the other on how a random stranger saw them. The finished drawings revealed how unforgiving the women had been on themselves. The film above documents how the experiment worked, and also features the participants’ moving reactions to seeing the two drawings.



Google Misspellings, Snickers, AMV BBDO

April also brought this clever use of the Google search engine to promote Snickers chocolate bars. For three days on the UK site, any time a spelling mistake was typed into the Google search bar, an ad would pop up at the top of the search results saying ‘Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie Grab yourself a Snikkers’. The work was part of AMV BBDO’s ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign, which also featured TV spots starring Joan Collins and celebrities offering up a series of out-of-character tweets, but it was this work with Google that really stood out for us.



Marmite Neglect, Marmite, adam&eveDDB

This documentary style ad for Marmite was released in early August and showed neglected jars of the savoury spread being rescued from cupboards where they lay forgotten. The realism of the spot proved too much for many, with the ad receiving numerous complaints for supposedly trivialising animal cruelty and the work of the RSPCA. The ad was eventually passed by the ASA though, and its original approach wins it a place on this list.



Climate Name Change, 350 Action, Barton F Graf 9000

Later in August we saw this film for activist group 350 Action which launched a petition to name hurricanes after US policy makers who deny the existence of climate change. Ad agency Barton F Graf 9000 created this film featuring spoof news reports to show how the hurricanes might play out on TV. The results are very funny, and the film has received well over two million views on YouTube – proof that comedy can be an effective way of getting people to think about serious subjects such as climate change.



Rainbow Laces, Paddy Power, Crispin Porter & Bogusky/Lucky Generals

Paddy Power has had another bumper year of news headlines and excitement through its ad campaigns and use of social media (see CR December for a feature on the brand). While the bringing together of Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un may rate as the brand’s most bizarre stunt yet, this campaign against homophobia in football proved that the bookmakers could produce ads that were for a good cause too (though its sense of mischief remained intact with the use of the cheeky tagline ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers’). Created in association with Stonewall, the brand sent rainbow coloured laces to premier league football players and encouraged them to wear them to show their support for gay footballers. A number of players, managers and TV sports presenters got involved.



Walter White’s house on Craigslist, Century 21, Mullen

The series finale of Breaking Bad became something of a media event in October, and, sensing an opportunity, US ad agency Mullen created this spoof sales ad for listings website Craigslist. The ad, for estate agent Century 21, offered lead character Walter White’s house for sale. Featuring a clever sales description with numerous in-jokes for fans, the post was up for just three days but quickly spread on social media.



The Epic Split, Volvo Trucks, Forsman & Bodenfors

2013 could be seen as the year of the stunt, or prank ad. We saw customers terrified in a coffee shop to promote the new version of Carrie, and New Zealand beer brand Tui plumb a house with beer. But the best stunt of the year came late, in November, and frankly knocked the socks of all that came before. The latest ad in a series of stunt spots for Volvo Trucks, it showed Jean-Claude Van Damme performing the splits between two moving vehicles at sunrise. Rather unsurprisingly, the ad went bonkers online, receiving 61 million views (and counting) on YouTube alone.



Look Up, British Airways, Ogilvy & Mather

It can be hard to make billboards seem exciting in our multi-media age, but this outdoor campaign for British Airways from Ogilvy & Mather proved they could still surprise. A simple but clever idea, two digital billboards were placed underneath the flight path to Heathrow in London and showed a child standing up and pointing whenever a British Airways flight flew overhead.



Christmas in a Day, Sainsburys, AMV BBDO

Christmas ads in the UK revved up a pace this year, with numerous brands pulling out all the stops to try and capture their audience’s attention during the festive season. With strong competition from John Lewis, M&S and Bailey’s, one campaign loomed large above the rest. At 50 minutes long, Christmas in a Day demanded a lot from its audience, but it delivered: created by director Kevin McDonald it is made up from films submitted by the public shot last Christmas and is both moving and hilarious. With the film gaining vast media coverage as well as YouTube views, it also showed that long-form advertising can really work for brands.

So that’s our pick of the year – what do you think? Share your views (nicely – it’s Christmas after all) in the comments box below….

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