If advertising is, as George Orwell so nicely put it, “the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,” then it’s bucket music to a whole lot of ears. At least that’s what the best ads of the last 12 months tell us, thanks to the tens of millions of views racked up. Marketing is the cultural arm of big business, and if a brand is lucky it can make something that becomes a part of pop culture. Something that, in its own way, hits the same spot as a great TV show, book, or movie.
There are so many different incarnations of brand creativity that could be considered “ads”–whether we’re talking about GE’s podcast The Message, or Patagonia’s Jumbo Wild documentary, or the overall marketing juggernaut that has helped Star Wars: The Force Awakens obliterate box office records–but we decided to stick to a more focused definition of the more traditional ad. Now, in 2015, that most certainly includes web films, web ads, whatever you want to call them, that go well beyond 30-seconds but still somewhat conform to the format. As much as advertising, at its best, has moved beyond the basic ad, it still serves as a litmus test for how well marketers are progressing in the quest to create things that we actually enjoy, instead of the kind of interruptive garbage that gives us mind rabies.
Speaking of terrible, we’ve also got a line-up of our Top 5 Least Creative Ads of the Year, because nothing puts the best work in context like holding your nose and seeing what some of the worst looks like.
Check out both lists in the slide show above and let us know your own picks in the comments below.