Let’s face it: people love ads. They may interrupt our T.V. binge sessions and their jingles may get stuck in our heads all day, but we secretly love them. Laughing at the bizarre, marveling at the inspiring and, for some, even tearing up at those which are surprisingly heartfelt. It has evolved and become an art form of sorts. They may be short, but that actually makes their craft all the more respectable. It’s incredibly difficult to construct and craft an engaging narrative or story within the confines of a thirty second time frame.
It’s remarkable how much they stick in our subconscious. We all know the McDonald’s jingle, where to get a five dollar foot-long, and when someone says “Give me a break,” our minds go straight to Kit Kat bars. A clever jingle or an especially memorable commercial will stay with us, possibly even for years.
For those of us who watch the Super Bowl every year just for the ads, here are some particularly imaginative ads from the past decade:
Dumb Ways to Die
Probably the most well-known of the bunch, Dumb Ways to Die, which aired in 2012, ended up taking home scores of awards- including Clio Awards for Integrated Campaign, Film, Digital/Mobile, and Film Technique. The ad was created by Melbourne Metro trains and, surprisingly, began with their desire to create a safety PSA.
The company wanted to create a piece that emphasized safety, but didn’t have the usual feel of a public service ad. They wound up creating an entertaining and hilarious ad which, simply, goes through a list of all the dumb ways that people can die. This ad is packed with hilarious lyrics- like poking a grizzly bear with a stick and using your private parts as piranha bait- and complete with colorful, simplistic illustrations that create a light, fun feel. The end of the song touches on trains specifically, a few different dumb ways to die by train, bringing the message full circle.
The song was recorded by Tangerine Kitty and launched via iTunes, radio and Youtube. Within 24 hours of the launch, the song was in the top 10 chart on iTunes.
Fast forward to today and the Youtube video has a total of 162 million hits. That’s largely what makes this ad so unique- it transcended its original purpose and became a cute song and a funny video that people wanted to experience.
Not only was it a successful campaign, but it also proved to be effective: Metro’s Trains noticed a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths on its network as a result of the campaign.
Almost Identical: Beldent Gum
The goal of any ad campaign is for the ad to stick with the viewer- for them to remember the experience. While some go the route of Melbourne Metro and make something fun and catchy, some companies go the other way and create ads with darker undertones. That was the route that Beldent Gum, or Trident Gum, decided to go with in their ad- Almost Identical. They used the ad to conduct a social experiment about the social stigma behind chewing gum.
Using the Museum of Contemporary Art of Buenos Aires as the location, they created an art installment featuring identical twins: one who’s chewing gum and one who isn’t. The viewers who came to the exhibit would put on a set of headphones and be asked a series of questions about the twins- which of them has more friends? Which would give you a raise? They had 481 people come to the exhibit and participate and, of those participants, 73% favored the twin who chewed gum.
This truly is a chilling ad experience. It proves that people naturally favor those who chew gum, but it also highlights how little stimuli is needed to pass judgements on people, which makes this commercial leave a significant impact on the viewer.
Extra Gum: The Story of Sarah and Juan
Pulling at the heartstrings, this ad made a huge splash when it aired in 2015- circulating throughout social media and accumulating their current total of 21.6 million views on Youtube.
This is a truly unique piece as this ad actually constructs a narrative, telling a whole love story in the span of two minutes. With no lines. Not only is that incredibly difficult, but it also manages to tie that love story back to the product by making the gum itself an integral part of their love story.
Featuring a cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Hayley Reinhart and simple illustrations, this is a truly touching piece that’s sure to be remembered for a long time to come.
Dove Real Beauty Ad
Another ad campaign that utilized a social experiment, Dove created an ad which attempts to explore the gap between “how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves.”
It begins with a series of women who are brought into a room where a sketch artist is waiting behind a curtain. They’re asked to describe themselves to the artist. In this portion of the experience, the women use negative adjectives to describe themselves to the artist. Then they had the subjects get acquainted with one another. Afterwards, they were brought back in and asked to describe each other to the same artist. More positive adjectives are used in this round. The ad ends by having the women compare the first and second images.
This ad not only utilizes art, but touches on self-esteem in an extremely powerful way.
Whether you are a self-proclaimed ad enthusiast or someone who finds themselves unconsciously humming the latest jingle, when it comes to good ads – we’re lovin’ it. And if you claim you didn’t hear that jingle in your head just now, you’re a liar.