Ads Worth Spreading: These Are The 10 Most World-Changing Ads, According To TED

Dove, Honda, Adobe, and IBM among the brands honored by the global ideas conference.

Just ahead of its 30-year anniversary conference in Vancouver, BC, TED has released its fourth annual Ads Worth Spreading list, to recognize innovation, ingenuity, and intelligence in advertising.


“We understand the ubiquity of advertising–-it’s everywhere and plays a huge role in our media consumption,” says TED’s head of global partnerships Ronda Carnegie. “As TED celebrates Ideas Worth Spreading, we want to reward the brands who champion ideas-based advertising. The winners understand an ad’s power and presence, and excel as ‘Ad-throlopogists,’ meaning their great work gives us insights into the connection between advertising our own cultural compass.”

The ad industry is already awash in awards shows but the high fives doled out by the global ideas conference are a bit different. Winners were picked by pairings of industry experts and TED speakers. There aren’t any traditional categories like TV, outdoor, platinum, whatever. Instead, honorees must fall into at least one category of storytelling, social good, cultural compass, creative wonder, and learning. Also, there are no shiny trophies.

Carnegie says the organization looked for “brand bravery” this year, to reward the agencies and clients that are able to take creative ideas and actually build a brilliant campaign. “We realized that brand bravery, which was originally a category, needs to be embodied by all of the winning ads,” says Carnegie. “We kept hearing powerful stories from creatives and marketers on how they helped push their ideas through big organizations. A successful campaign needs both sides to champion and stand up for an idea; our recognition of brand bravery is a celebration of those who succeed through that process.”

So, who made the cut? It wouldn’t be an advertising honor party without Dove, and Ogilvy & Mather UK’s look at women’s relationship with the camera is in there. Don’t tell Greenpeace, but P&G’s heartwarming ode to Olympic moms by Wieden+Kennedy Portland also made the cut, along with the only beer commercial that could make a grown man weep by Guinness and BBDO New York.

And if you’re honoring a best in class of persuasion, why not use it to your advantage? The organization is introducing a new project this year that will use the expertise in Ads Worth Spreading to promote TED itself. A group of current and past winners will get together at TEDActive 2014 in Whistler to help create an awareness campaign around how to become involved with TED. “They will tackle one of three challenges,” says Carnegie. “How teachers and students can participate in TED Ed, how individuals can spread an idea–what we call The Ripple Effect–and how to bring TED to your community and get involved by volunteering.”

See the full list of this year’s winners in the slide show above.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.