Well, well, well, after a couple of weeks off, the Top 5 returns. We finally made it. The year 2017 is here, and you know what that means, right? It means that it’s time for a global economic meltdown, total cultural censorship, and the best ever TV gameshow made about prisoners killing each other in increasingly creative ways for ratings. Just ask The Running Man.
Speaking of tortuous exercise, seeing as it’s January, it should come as no surprise that brands like Apple, Nike, and Samsung are hyping their connected fitness wares to all of us desperate (in theory) to exorcise our gluttonous holiday demons. Thankfully, neither campaign takes itself too seriously–much like our New Year’s resolutions–eschewing lofty aspiration in favor of framing the quest for physical health in a way that still feels fun, even attainable for mere mortals. Onward!
What: A look at the phenomenon of human exercise through a fresh pair of eyes
Who: Samsung, Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Why We Care: With apologies to Old Han Solo, it’s true, all of it. The strange rituals and routines around modern human exercise are just plain weird, and here Samsung calls it out completely. Of course they also want to sell more gear, so as “crazy” as they make it all sound, it’s also a ringing endorsement to embrace the madness. The other spots in the campaign, “Honey” and “Mannequin,” are no slouches either.
What: A new Nike/Apple Watch running campaign starring Kevin Hart
Who: Nike, Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Why We Care: Hart does his best Forrest Gump impression for Nike for a campaign about how obsessive the Apple Watch with Nike Plus can make any runner. This being Kevin Hart–a notoriously productive person–this is part of a seven ad series, but the comedian pulls it off and proves he can easily keep pace with the Nike brand machine.
What: A short film about John Malkovich’s fashionable ambitions and his Squarespace-powered online store
Who: Squarespace, JohnXHannes
Why We Care: It may be a fixture on the podcast ad circuit, but over the last few years Squarespace has also cemented a reputation as an incredibly creative marketer with short films featuring small business owners like “Girlboss,” musician Leon Bridges, and a Super Bowl spot (and full album) with Jeff Bridges lulling people to sleep. Here we get a poignant, and unexpected, look at John Malkovich’s second career, and it’s a worthy addition to the brand’s already impressive collection.
What: Two young women get prepped for a big business pitch in the latest ad for the brand’s #StressTest campaign
Who: Secret, Wieden + Kennedy
Why We Care: Once again, the brand uses great writing, casting, and pace to make a big issue (gender pay gap with “Raise” last year, general sexism here) feel personal, with a solid side of f**k yeah!
What: A two-and-a-half-minute history lesson on men’s grooming startup Harry’s
Who: Harry’s, Partners & Spade
Why We Care: Every brand’s gotta have a personality. An angle. It’s what makes you reach for one over the other when, really, the difference between the actual products may not be that great. For Harry’s, on one side they have the blockbuster tie-ins of Big Razor, on the other, the fratty yuk-yuks of Dollar Shave Club. This quick company history is fun, charming, and hits the brand personality right on the . . . uh, head.