A selection of advertising by members of the Top 1000 that stood out from the pack — for better or worse.
Flightless bird helps Samsung soar again
It’s not quite as clichéd as a phoenix rising from the flames, but a 90-second ad featuring an ostrich that glides through the clouds (with help from a VR kit) helped Samsung leave its flaming Note7 debacle behind. The lovable avian creature’s star turn for the crucial S8 launch, set to Elton John’s Rocket Man, came out of Leo Burnett and led into a wider campaign under the rubric ‘Do what you can’t’. Smartly, Samsung preceded any hard-sell advertising with a matter-of-fact film in which a super-chill voiceover explained its improved safety measures against a backdrop of white-coated technicians working in immaculately clean labs. Normality thus restored, the brand got on with a wide range of S8 promotions. We particularly liked a UK stunt that involved setting a huge transparent S8 prop in front of well-known snapshot spots.
Nike: Predictable excellence across the map
No rundown of standout advertising by major brands can avoid mentioning Nike and its soulmate for life, Wieden+Kennedy. Top-notch work from the pair in the last 12 months included ‘Da da ding’, an infectious anthem for female athletes in India, and ‘Minohodoshirazu’, which turned a Japanese insult about knowing one’s place on its head. Our top pick: ‘I got next’ (below), an attitude- and meme-filled mix of magical realism and video-game memes that told the tale of two undersized basketball underdogs in China.
Apple’s curious emptiness
Like its current product lineup, Apple’s advertising of late seems to lack the sizzle it once had. That may be by design; touting as revolutionary phones that improve only incrementally would ring false. Perhaps Apple has new tricks up its sleeve for the upcoming iPhone 8. Until then, we’ll have to content ourselves with workmanlike fare. At least a recent spot by the brand’s in-house team let us see what Shanghai would look like with a population of just two.
Layers of enjoyment from Toyota
Toyota’s vehicle lineup may be bland, but the company shows some adventurousness in advertising. One of our favourite efforts of the year (from any brand) was a short film by Tugboat for Toyota’s Vitz Hybrid. The film shows a senior creative director picking apart a younger colleague’s first cut of an ad — for the Vitz Hybrid. As the superior demands lingering product-feature shots and changes to the kidnapping storyline, we see the action reverse and play out differently through rewinds, wipes and other breakdown techniques. Whether you enjoy the film as an action-packed adventure or as a satire of corporate creativity, you’ll find that in spite of yourself, you just spent five minutes watching an ad full of lingering product-feature shots. In other campaigns, Toyota showed a mixed-heritage family in a matter-of-fact manner (a step forward in Japan) and melded J-pop with the works of 17th-century poet Matsuo Basho.
Huawei’s fragrance ad
The Chinese electronics maker jumped from 863 to 202 in this year’s ranking. If advertising can take any credit for this, it must be the brand’s heavy OOH spending, because its TV/video efforts stunk. A US spot with Justin Long of ‘I’m a Mac’ fame fell flat. But worse was a global online video by WPP’s Team Huawei. If you weren’t paying close attention, it looked like nothing so much as a perfume commercial from the 1980s, complete with attractive models pouting on forlorn beaches in black and white.
McDonald’s does local flavour well
The fast-food brand (with DDB) indulged nostalgia in Hong Kong with throwback ads, prices and an exhibit of Happy Meal toys of yore. In Singapore, it offered ‘shiock’ food items. In the Philippines, a lacklustre pair of romantic ads (original here, sequel below) worked better than they had any right to, thanks to songs by local artists.
Uniqlo tries to live up to its name
The Japan-based company’s first global branding campaign, through Droga5, asked ‘Why do we get dressed?’ while highlighting the simplicity of its products — an attempt to position itself as a more thoughtful budget fashion brand.
Nissin’s meme extravaganza
Parkour, sumo, idol groups, zombies, Rube Goldberg machines, and a shrimp cannon: Nissin’s over-the-top 58th anniversary ad, ‘Instant buzz’, was a feast for any aficionado of memes, advertising, or fun. Here's why the brand made it.
KFC: A sinking feeling
We normally enjoy KFC’s antics — chicken-flavoured nail polish, branded underwear, whatever — but the brand (with Ogilvy) did itself no favours recently when it delivered chicken to residents of a flooded Philippines village in a precious little amphibious craft. The effort smacked of one-off exploitation even though the brand does take part in some truly worthy efforts to help the less fortunate.
Mercedes-Benz: Nothing but cringe
The luxury carmaker does not seem a likely candidate for the most inept video of the year. But it took that dubious honour with a pair of videos out of Malaysia that went viral for all the wrong reasons. Spectacularly wooden dialogue and acting left one commenter sputtering: “WTF they doing LOL even Proton has better advertisement”. Ouch, that’s a sick burn.