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The 15 Best Ads of 2012

This list, called Best Ads on purpose, is intended to showcase what brand creativity can be beyond advertising, or, if you like, demonstrate that advertising means many more things today than paid ad units.

The ideas on this list include achievements in content marketing, one of advertising’s most important, still-developing disciplines. But the list also includes developments in brand utility, that other critical, long-term mandate–for brands to create things that make people’s lives better, easier, or more fun. If Red Bull Stratos represented the pinnacle of brand content, Nike Fuelband is the premium example of brand utility.

Nike+ Fuelband

Nike has demonstrated an ongoing virtuosity in communicating its essence through great stories. But the brand has also evolved such that it’s made a priority of producing things, like Fuelband and Nike+ before it, that give new form and new purpose to that essence. Fuelband isn’t a perfect product. But it’s an important one, in that it not only shows the payoff of building actual tools that people can use. It also shows, like Red Bull Stratos, what happens when brands have a holistic vision and identity and a view of marketing that isn’t limited to one isolated department in a company.

Elsewhere on the list, we’ve got a meaningful mobile app, an exercise in transparency, a human moment that became a social media sensation, and, yes, some great ads in the form of film and video stories.

Check them out (in reverse order–the top pick is the last slide) in the slide show above.TI