Obviously the definition of what’s considered an ad has changed significantly over the last decade. Is it a website? Is it a film? Is it 30-seconds? A product? A retail store? An emoji? All of the above? Well, of course. Which brings me to this week’s asterisk. While these are the Top 5 Ads as always, two other brand efforts deserve honorable mention as they blur the lines between advertising and entertainment in such a way that points to both the future and potential of brand marketing.
The first is a collaboration between Jimmy Kimmel Live’s Cousin Sal, Dollar Shave Club and Facebook on a new weekly gambling and comedy series called “Cousin Sal’s Sure Thing.” Second is a new web series from Starbucks called “Upstanders,” that showcases some uplifting stories of people in an America that’s often depicted as increasingly divided. Anyway, after you’re done checking out Bo Jackson, the adorable Honda dog, and figuring out if that girl in the Maltesers ad just did what you think she did, be sure to check these two series out. Onward!
What: A truck commercial that’s all heart.
Who: Honda, RPA
Why We Care: Truck ads are typically a pretty macho affair. WORK. MUSCLE. STRENGTH. MORE WORK. POWER. Even when their not full of dudes, they’re still pretty damn tough. But here Honda give its Ridgeline truck some serious emotion with the story of a lost dog and a great samaritan. When was the last time you said, “Awwwwwww!” during a truck commercial? Exactly.
What: Under Armour gets Cam Newton to crash through the creepy woods, running from 1,000 unseen enemies and flexing some unique lumberjack skills.
Who: Under Armour, Droga5
Why We Care: A cool, almost arty look at the inner workings of the competitive mind, as Newton’s own mom reads a passage from Richard Adams’s classic children’s book, Watership Down. The mood here continues the brand’s look at the dark, solitary moments of pursuing athletic excellence, a strategy that worked wonders for marketing Michael Phelps ahead of the Rio Olympics. More please.
What: A Paralympic ad campaign for the chocolate candy that treats people with disabilities like actual people.
Who: Maltesers, AMV BBDO, Scope, Channel 4
Why We Care: This is the result of Maltesers and ad agency AMV BBDO winning U.K. broadcaster Channel 4’s Superhumans Wanted contest, which offered $1.3 million of commercial airtime to a brand that featured disability in its ad campaign. Suffice to say, we don’t typically see those with disabilities give a handy demonstration with candy. And that’s exactly the point.
What: Kia’s Sunday Night Football campaign starring Bo Jackson recreating his ’80s Tecmo Bowl dominance in a Sorento SUV.
Who: Kia, David&Goliath
Why We Care: A fun and unexpected arrow that strikes deep through the heart of any football fan and/or gamer over 35. Combining Tecmo Bowl and the legendary Bo Jackson (who’s video game super powers may be just as famous as his athletic achievements IRL) is a stroke of nostalgic gold.
What: A pretty epic troll of the Unicode Consortium’s decision not to approve an official condom emoji.
Why We Care: What do you do when your very public appeal for a condom emoji, to make it easier for young people to communicate about safe sex, is denied? You double-down. Sure the eggplant condom is just a concept, but is it any more ridiculous than having a pizza or taco emoji, and nothing for safe sex? Aubergine ftw.