Top 10 Ads in the Past 10 Years

If you want to know the secrets to creating a successful ad campaign, take a look at the brands that have achieved it. At 10twelve, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most powerful ad campaigns from the last decade to inspire your own.

10. Chipotle - Scarecrow

In 2013, Chipotle Mexican Grill released a three-minute animated short film titled “The Scarecrow”. The film tells the story of a sad scarecrow who dreams of growing a garden and opening his own burrito stand made with the fresh ingredients in a world where processed food reigns supreme. Along with the short, the company released a mobile game app. Through beautiful animation and compelling storytelling, the brand expressed its core value of “food with integrity”.

Another interesting fact is that Chipotle didn’t pay for placement on any TV networks. Yet, the video received millions of views and shares. To date, the video has been viewed over 18 million times.

What they got right: Tapping into powerful brand storytelling.

9. Casper - Making Mattresses Cool

In 2016, Casper successfully reinvented how we think about mattress shopping with a multichannel advertising and marketing campaign. The innovative startup wallpapered ads in subways, on taxis and other public places in main urban areas. It was an interesting strategy for a company that sells mattresses online, but it paid off when combined with their digital efforts.

For one, they have a huge social presence with quirky tweets and posts that make talking about mattresses cool. Secondly, the packaging and delivery of a mattress in a box was made to be easily shareable. It also didn’t hurt that everyone including celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Ashley Greene and Mindy Kaling all shared posts gushing about their new Casper mattresses.   

What they got right: Building a lifestyle brand and using a multichannel approach to change how we view the mattress buying experience--and sleep. 

8. Progressive - Flo

In some ad campaigns, it is the characters that drive the success. Such is the case for Progressive’s Flo ads that began airing in 2008. The bubbly sales assistant, played by Stephanie Courtney, grabbed audience’s attention with funny one-liners and comedic relief. Since then, the character has become a pop culture icon, appearing in over 100 TV and radio commercials. (She even had her own branded Halloween costume.)

What they got right: Using a humorous character to make a usually boring topic more interesting.

7. Red Bull: Stratos

Red Bull: Stratos is the most successful ad campaign that wasn’t actually an ad campaign, or so the company says that they never intended it to be. The project was a seven-year long scientific experiment that culminated when Felix Baumgartner became the first human to break the sound barrier.

Video captured Baumgartner freefalling 24 miles above Earth. It was a stunt that broke five world records and was covered by news and media outlets around the world. It may not have been initially intended as an ad campaign, (although the footage was later used in Red Bull ads) it contributed to sales. The year that it aired the company reportedly sold 5.2 billion cans worldwide, an increase of 13% from the year prior.

What they got right: Creating newsworthy, branded content that doesn’t feel like advertising.

6. Apple - Get A Mac

Airing from 2006 to 2009, Apple’s Get a Mac campaign was a series of TV commercials featuring actor and comedian Justin Long as the “Mac” and author John Hodgman as the “PC”. The commercials used humor to compare Mac to PCs, and ultimately argue all the reasons why Macs are better.

What they got right: Compared products and educated consumers in a way that was entertaining.

5. Always - #LikeAGirl

With the first video released in 2014, Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign is the prime example of the power of social media. The brand took an insult that everyone in their target audience (women) has likely heard or is familiar with and transformed it into a message of empowerment. Since it launched, the video has received over 64 million views on YouTube.

What they got right: Tapping into social media and branded hashtags to share a powerful message.

4. Dos Equis - Most Interesting Man in The World

Launching in 2007, the Most Interesting Man In The World campaign took a different approach than the typical beer advertisement. When every other beer ad seemed to tap into the “bro-culture” and feature a bunch of twenty-somethings, Dos Equis didn’t. Instead, they went with grey-haired Jonathan Goldsmith and his now famous tagline, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do…”

What they got right: Breaking out of industry norms and cliches to grab attention.

3. Nike+ Running

When Nike released their Nike+ Running app and later, its Fuelband wearable, it wasn’t just launching a product. It was reinventing how we think about fitness and the relationship we have to technology.

What they got right: Highlighting the development of products and services that can change the lives of users.

2. Old Spice

When Old Spice released their first ‘The Man Your Man Can Smell Like’ commercial in 2014, they were struggle to reinvent their brand and appeal to younger audiences. Before the campaign, Old Spice was thought of by many as a product used singularly by old men. However, after the humorous video that features actor Isaiah Mustafa aired, it became a viral sensation that people of all ages were talking about.

The campaign added comedian and athlete Terry Crews and created many more successful ads. To date, the original video has over 54 million views on YouTube.

What they got right: Using humor to reinvent customer perceptions of your brand.

1. Dove

Perhaps the most iconic ad campaign of the last decade, Dove’s #RealBeauty raised awareness for a huge social issue while gaining massive brand exposure. The campaign featured images of diverse women of all body shapes on billboards and TV commercials, and directly challenged people to question what their perceptions of beauty.

According to Unilever’s research, the exposure alone generated as much as 30 times the revenue of paid-for media spots.

By smashing contemporary perceptions and ideals of “beauty” Dove’s campaign connected with people and started a widespread movement. The Unilever campaign has been one of the longest-running success stories in ad history, launching in 2004 and still active today. 

What they got right: Leveraged market research to identify an issue that directly affected their customers.

Even if you don’t have a huge budget or celebrity endorsements, you can create more effective and engaging ad campaigns. The top advertisements of the past decade were successful because they broke the standard norms for what an advertisement can be. They were creative and appealed to our sense of humor. Most importantly, they found ways to connect with viewers and their values without sounding like a sales pitch.

Need more advertising inspiration or advice? Chat with the team at 10twelve to discover how we can help you craft messages and strategies to build your business.