It’s kind of impossible to land on five best ad-like things of all time. I did go down the rabbit hole of what is the penultimate best. Obsessed over it, asked my producers, asked my husband (a copywriter), asked my kids (they watch YouTube and TikTok and don’t know what I was talking about, ads are the worst), asked my various past and present ECD’s but I had to walk away - there is no absolute top five, as you’re only as good as your last best thing and the work is attached to it’s release moment as it has to be culturally relevant and/or culture driving.
(My start of a shortlist….Apple kills it in every award show and it’s the ultimate product demo with the highest level of craft. It makes stars of the product and the directors behind the film. 'Detectives' and 'I am the Greatest', being recent just perfect favourites. Gold star to NY Times' 'The Truth Is Worth It' (and all its iterations) and Meta Ghana 'Skate Nation' for next level craft excellence and showing that work can and should get better though execution. And shout out to Burberry's 'Open Spaces', Sandy Hook Promise's 'Teenage Dream', Beats' 'You Love Me' and Penny's 'The Wish' for really making me feel something.)
But...you must organise the High Five work around a theme. What always gets me excited (and often green with envy) is a good hack. Taking something incredibly familiar, even so obvious that it’s annoying, and hacking it. Hack the platform, hack the media placement, hack the behaviour. Just when you think it’s all been done, this makes it fresh and sticky. This list isn’t the latest work, it’s just five things over the last few years that I wish I had made, that stick in my head and that still feel relevant now...
Budweiser - 'TagWords'
Agency: Africa San Paolo
THE OOH HACK.
OOH, one of the oldest and most traditional forms of media, continues to be a place ripe for exciting activations. The possibilities are endless and the desire to activate IRL is real. So this Bud example is still a favourite. Tapping into familiar behaviour of Google word search (a search behaviour familiar for now, with AI and TikTok nipping at it’s heels). This Bud OOH asks you to key in a few words and up pops an iconic rockstar holding a Bud, allowing Bud to own it’s place of being the ultimate beer in rock n’ roll. An easy, curiosity driving scavenger hunt, no celeb endorsement payments needed. SO much good stuff happening in this OOH space; Coors Light's 'Chillboards
is another more recent beer OOH hack, that stood out from last year. And tapping into new technology with this anti-child abuse OOH hack
from over 10 years ago, to whatever this tech
will inevitably bring (hello Minority Report for real), watch this space.
Heinz - 'Draw Ketchup' & 'AI Ketchup'
Agency: Rethink Canada
HACK THE FAMILIAR. Heinz is killing it, just like the most iconic ketchup in the most recognisable packaging - should be!! Hard to pick just one execution. A brand so iconic that the human and the AI interpretation of what ketchup looks like, is…Heinz ketchup. Playing into the brands strength - unabashedly, we’re number one and everyone knows it. We’ve seen a lot of AI driven executions and this one really stood out - a great way to evolve the campaign and a great use of that tech.
Period.Org - 'Loopholes'
Production: Schromm Studios
Director: Matt Morgan
Post: Yacht Club
Sound: Butter Music + Sound
THE PRODUCT HACK.
Nearly one in four people who menstruate in the US do not have access to period care - a basic human right. There are no federal programs to help them, either. SNAP (govt program, formally known as food stamps) explicitly prohibit use for purchasing period care (only covers food). 72 hacked that backwards system by finding a loophole, using a cereal box as the trojan horse for period care products and giving people an easy way to get involved
and drive change. Such a simple idea, executed in a low cost way, with no media dollars behind it - shows the power of a great hack to drive change.
TIDE - 'It's a TIDE Ad'
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York
Production: Rattling Stick
Post: The Mill New York
Editorial: Arcade Edit NY
THE SUPERBOWL HACK. We all want to win the Super Bowl. There have been a ton of great examples of how to hack it (Coinbase, Reddit, Skittles, etc). But this self-referential ad, IMO, was and so far is, the top example of how to hack and truly own the Super Bowl. By making every ad showing someone wearing a clean shirt - a TIDE ad. Smartest way in that I’ve seen, still yet to be beaten.
Burger King - 'Whopper Detour'
Agency: FCB New York
Production: O Positive
Director: Jonathan Klein
Post: Mack Cut x Zombie Studio
Sound: Honeymix x Human
GEO-HACK THE COUPON.
Burger King work has been synonymous with surprising hacks for over 20+ years. From 'Subservient Chicken', to 'Whopper Freak Out' to the 'Moldy Whopper
', they’ve always put out surprising work and led the way in the competitive QSR category. But Whooper Detour is still the most envy inducing and even with all the advancements in tech, this 'geo-conquesting' idea is still awesome. This hack relied on mobile geofencing to drive hungry customers away from McDonald’s and promote the order ahead feature on the Burger King app. People within 600ft of a McD’s location were delivered a mobile notification (via a digital coupon), offering a Whopper for one cent, directing them to the closest BK location. Cool idea using interactivity, location data and a timely offer (aka a coupon), generating tons of content and buzzzzzz...