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A Wartime Tearjerker, A Brand-Backed Book: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week

Kool & The Gang don’t celebrate drunk driving, Land Rover’s new thriller, Nissan’s Alaskan adventure, and more.

A Wartime Tearjerker, A Brand-Backed Book: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week

Just when you thought John Lewis was waddling away with the Christmas ad championship, along comes another British retailer to take things up a tearjerking notch. As the holiday ad pace picks up, Sainsbury’s this week saw the adorable Monty the Penguin, and raised it a true WWI tale of peace, friendship and sharing. All this on the centenary year of the First World War and in support of the Royal British Legion. Poor Monty didn’t know what hit him. But we’re guessing it’s all the tears and cheers for Sainsbury’s new chocolate bar.

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Read more about that campaign, as well as the rest of our picks for this week’s top shelf in brand creativity.

Nissan “Project Titan”

What: Nissan invited Facebook fans to help the brand build the ultimate off-road truck, culminating with a 21-minute short film on Veteran’s Day that follows Iraq war vets David Guzman and Kevin McMahon on a journey through the Alaskan wilderness in the crowd-sourced Nissan Titan.
Who: Nissan, TBWA/Chiat/Day LA
Why We Care: A lot going on here. First, a social media crowd-sourced truck, then teaming with the Wounded Warriors Project to send vets Guzman and McMahon on an Alaskan trip, and then a short film about the whole thing. The great thing about it–not to mention timing it to Veteran’s Day–is how it all seamlessly fits together, makes sense and has broad appeal across social geeks, truck nuts, reality TV fans, outdoor enthusiasts, and patriotic citizens.

Sainsbury’s “Christmas is for Sharing”

What: A recreation of the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914, during which German and British troops left the trenches for a day to celebrate the holiday together.
Who: Sainsbury’s, AMV BBDO
Why We Care: Not only is this a great looking spot that tells a sentimental story, but for many it will appear that Sainsbury’s has taken the high road in the U.K.’s Christmas ad battle by waiting until after Armistice Day (Nov. 11) to release it. Add to that, selling the chocolate bar featured in the ad to help raise money for the Royal British Legion. and you’ve got a holiday halo that’s hard to beat.

Think UK “50th Anniversary”

What: Marking the 50th anniversary of drunk driving awareness advertising, and the corresponding drop in fatalities from 1,640 a year to just 230, by making Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” actually seem depressing.
Who: Think UK, AMV BBDO
Why We Care: Hearing a song generally known more for dance floor epics and karaoke fun than life-threatening car accidents is a hard-hitting juxtaposition and one that, despite all the years we’ve been inundated with similar messages, still makes you stop and think. That in itself is an impressive achievement.

Land Rover “The Vanishing Game”


What: A new interactive book by best-selling author William Boyd that’s uses mixed media and a fiction thriller to engage audiences.
Who: Land Rover, Y&R New York, Tool of North America
Why We Care: In the same vein as Nissan, here Land Rover is looking to engage the audience on multiple fronts without compromising quality. A best-selling author, an impressive website, cool video, as well as ebooks, and even a Reddit AMA by Boyd. It’s a consistent, creative experience that reflects how people are consuming stories, while making sure the quality is up to par with anything that wouldn’t otherwise have a logo attached to it.

Dollar Shave Club “Security”

What: A new series of funny ads by everyone’s favorite mail-order grooming service marketer.
Who: Dollar Shave Club
Why We Care: We all know Dollar Shave Club founder and CEO Michael Dubin is a funny and engaging spokesperson. Two years ago he put his brand on the map with a no-bullshit take on male grooming. Here, he keeps it going strong with these new spots, highlighting the absurd obstacle courses (and threats of physical maiming) guys often have to complete just to buy a new razor.

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About the author

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

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