The Best 10 Ads of 2019
With the New Year comes resolutions and goals but also reflection and cringing at the last year. So, here at Nicolet Creative we are looking back on major ads, ad campaigns, and brand experiences of 2019 that made us feel something.
That’s essentially what advertising is designed to do: make consumers feel a certain way about a product, service, or the brand, directly or by extension. Advertising is meant to communicate messages, persuade, inform, move, entertain, motivate, etc. The ads we selected represent those various styles marketers can take to do their job of connecting with an audience.
We’ve noted 10 ads that we loved.
List of 10 Ads, Ad Campaigns, and Brand Experiences We Loved
As we mentioned above, ads have different ways they connect with the viewers, consumers, and readers. Our list includes ads that entertain, inspire, satirize, along with create an experience and evoke nostalgia.
Our first section is comedy or entertainment. The ads that use the humor appeal can connect with a wider group of consumers or a more niche segment depending on what their goal is. The humor appeal is one of the best for ad recall but not necessarily brand recall; so, consumers will likely remember the ad specifically but not who the ad was promoting.
1. Bud Light
The first entertaining commercial is Bud Light’s Joust. This is a continuation of Bud Light’s medieval ads featuring characters like a King and Queen and the “Bud Night.” This ad used comedy along with a surprise to come out on top of many viewers favorite ads lists. The ad started out with a joust that the Bud Night is participating in. After he loses, we find out his competitor was The Mountain from Game of Thrones. To finish, a dragon from the show comes to torch everyone.
They end with the air date of the last season of Game of Thrones. Undoubtedly this is a huge brand partnership. One of the biggest shows and networks working with one of the largest beer companies, is impactful.
Luckily for both brands, this pairing makes the most sense since they both have ties to medieval times. They not only appealed to beer drinkers but also the huge hoard of Game of Thrones fans.
2. Aviation Gin
To understand the brilliance of this Aviation Gin “Gift Responsibly” ad, you must first know the debacle that was the Peloton ad in which the star of this ad featured. The ad was about a husband gifting his already fit wife a Peloton bike. She then awkwardly documents the process of her using it, so that her and her husband can watch the video diary later. The message and implications made viewers uncomfortable to say the least.
Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin jumped at the opportunity to use the Peloton girl in their holiday ad. The ad shows the Peloton woman and her two friends at the bar drinking and enjoying Aviation Gin martinis. The friends are trying to make her feel better in the wake of the backlash from the Peloton ad.
This is the most topical ad and the context may not make sense to viewers in the years to come, but it fits the time. However, the sentiment of friends trying to cheer a friend up after a mistake is made or their going through a rough time does hold up over time.
Whether or not you liked this ad or even the Peloton one, the turnaround time of Aviation Gin’s ad is impressive and undeniable.
In Amazon’s “Not Everything Makes the Cut” ad they use self-deprecating humor to show funny “failed” attempts at integrating Alexa into other areas of everyday life.
The first failure was Forest Whitaker’s electric toothbrush with the Alexa capability to play whatever he wanted. However, when he asked to listen to a podcast, he couldn’t hear it since the toothbrush was in his mouth. Next, was the dog collar that ordered what Harrison Ford’s dog wanted when he barked, only angering Harrison and leading to the end where a palette of dog food is delivered to Ford’s house.
The third mistake was a hot tub in which the TV Series Broad City’s stars asked Alexa to play music. This turned into a grand show of water works and music that threw the two women out of the hot tub. Lastly, there was an accident where Alexa turned off all power on Earth from space station.
It’s hard not to include this strong brand that has dominated the Super Bowl with their Alexa commercials over the past four years. The humor and celebrity cameos assist their ads in making an impact on the consumers.
Hyundai’s “The Elevator” commercial features Jason Bateman, who plays an elevator operator taking individuals down many floors to horrible activities, each one worse than the last. A couple says they are car shopping, so they are taken past root canal, jury duty, middle seat on a 6-hour flight, “the talk” and a vegan dinner party. They then tell him of the new “Shopper Assurance” program they used. Once Jason realizes they are shopping Hyundai, he brings them up to the “Shopper Assurance” floor.
Hyundai shows that car shopping with them is far less painful and much quicker than using other avenues with different brands. Making fun of those other painful experiences lightens the ad up and makes it easy for consumers to relate. We liked this ad because of it’s refreshing, and distinctive take compared to that of the normal car brand commericals.
Our next section is about advertising that is so meta. Ads that reference themselves, their industry, or advertising in a way that is ironic or self-deprecating. It’s comical in a different way than the traditional entertaining commercials.
The meta ad that made us smile this year came from Skittles and their “Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical” ad from the Super Bowl. Throughout the ad they talk, more like sing, about advertising and how it ruins everything. Any consumer can identify with the feeling annoyed by advertisements. The ad has an actor singing about how he doesn’t see the problem with ads. Then the rest of the cast pokes fun at the fact that ads reach us on the web, on TV, in our inboxes, and in our social media feeds.
The actor sees their point and starts singing that advertising ruins everything. While he’s singing there are cuts of him, and the cast eating Skittles. This takes the ad to another level, at that point it’s an ad about how advertising sucks and is full of product placement.
They are commenting on the connection between entertainment and advertising that continues to overlap more and more. These two are intertwined even further during the marketing race of the year that is the Super Bowl, which is when this meta ad ran. Their choice to do this in a Broadway style with the meta-advertisement approach made them stand out from competition.
The next two are ads are experiential. They don’t fit into the traditional comedic, inspirational, and nostalgic categories. They involve more than the normal experience of a consumer seeing a commercial or advertisement.
6. Taco Bell
This first ad was an actual experience. This brand is honestly fun to watch. They push the envelope and don’t take themselves too seriously. They took their advertising further this year by creating an all Taco Bell themed experience. The Bell Hotel was open in Palm Springs, California for only four nights and included guests made up of reporters, influencers, and fans of the brand. The tickets sold out in two minutes according to the company. They had their packaging and logo branded on the accoutrements and decor of a hotel stay.
For example, the pool and bar were named Mild Pool and Baja Bar respectively. Many items were made to look like their different flavored sauce packets such as, towels, pencils, yoga mats, pillows, and room keys. The food was, of course, Taco Bell related, and they even had their poolside drinks in their clear fountain drink cups.
Here’s their video showing the experience.
To see more details of someone’s stay at the Bell Hotel check out Ad Age’s article.
This next experiential ad is Coke’s “Try Not to Hear This” print and outdoor campaign that referenced the experience of opening and pouring Coca-Cola all through the sense of sound. Using sensory in any marketing like sound, taste, touch, and smell is more successful in making an impression on a consumer since they are using more than just sight.
This campaign stood out from all other print advertisements since they were able to access consumers’ auditory sense and make them crave the beverage as well. The vivid images and the fun prompt of “try not to hear this” are powerful. That ability to pull of such a sensory ad is unique to one of the strongest brands out there.
The one that inspired us this year was Nike’s Dream Further ad that ran during the Women’s World Cup back in June. In recent years, Nike has been including social issues and topics within their ad campaigns, this one features women. This ad celebrates women in sports and in general that are pushing and working for more.
The ad features a young player experiencing what it’s like to be a female soccer star. She’s pulled along to help win games, celebrate with a team, do a photoshoot, coach with the first female coach of La Liga, and be a part of a popular video game by Esports. The ad is promoting the Dream Further jersey by Nike specifically made for girl soccer players. The ad is engaging with its non-stop nature and the message behind it is inspiring to any soccer fan and female watching.
Another approach to ads is nostalgia. This is a way of using consumers’ own past experiences or memories and associating the feelings that come up to the brand or product.
Spotify used nostalgia to make their consumers feel and reminisce about “the good ole days” or think back to a time they are fond of all through the power of music.
Their out-of-home campaign was seen on billboards and buses and used contrasting vibrant colors to connect with the contrasting of past and present activities. The one below shows that back in the day we were listening to Smashing Pumpkins and now we are smashing avocados with the craze of avocado toast. Another highlighting that we once listened to London Calling and now, we are conference calling.
This campaign reinforced the idea that music can make you feel a certain way and bring you back to different times of your life and by extension Spotify does this for you too.
This brand used a different type of nostalgia to appeal to their consumers. In IKEA’s Real Life Series, they displayed the sets of three television shows using furniture and decor from their brand.
First in the series is the set of Stranger Things, a more recent TV series that’s got almost everyone is obsessed. The show itself is retro playing on the nostalgia of different generations.
They included a classic TV show like Friends, which resonates with those that watched it when it was on and the new generation of fans that experienced it on Netflix.
The third set in the series is The Simpsons, one of the longest running TV shows that people of all age groups have enjoyed.
They cast a wide net using a Sci-Fi/Horror, Sitcom, and Animated Sitcom to connect with all kinds of viewers. This campaign helped to point out the diversity of IKEA products. It communicated that you can find just about anything at the store.
In 2019, we saw many ads that we forgot the next instant or made us roll our eyes. The Super Bowl brought us another insane show of the most expensive and entertaining ads to date and during the holiday season we heard the words “percent off” until our ears went numb. While there are a bunch of negatives associated with advertising, there are positives as well. They are a way for you as a consumer to hear about new products and brands that you come to love and that make your life better, easier, or more fun. We hope the ads above made you laugh, smile, think, or feel something like they did for us.
Cheers to 2020!
What was your favorite ad from the year?
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