NatGeo Goes Genius, Danny McBride Wants More: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week

MacMillan Cancer Support faces reality with grace and heart, Toyota channels Black Mirror, and Wealthsimple has investment advice for streetwear fans.

NatGeo Goes Genius, Danny McBride Wants More: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week

National Geographic made what many considered the best Super Bowl ad of 2017, a promo for its new show Genius, about Albert Einstein, starring Geoffrey Rush. Now for its latest marketing for the show, it’s honoring the life, inspiration, and imagination of Einstein in 10 short films. The network and agency Pereira O’Dell worked with show director Sam Spiegel for two headlining films, The Instrument and The Mirror, then partnered with the Tongal filmmaking community to give new filmmakers a chance to create the final eight installments. It’s a fun, entertaining way to promote a TV show, both in subject matter and creative process. What else do we want from brand content? Onward!


National Geographic “10 Days of Genius Film Festival”

What: A 10-part short film series to promote NatGeo’s Albert Einstein series Genius.

Who: National Geographic, Pereira O’Dell

Why We Care: Perhaps the idea of a 10-part film series would’ve been enough, particularly as they’re entertaining in their own right, not just as a piece of marketing. But it’s the process of blending the creative process between the show’s director and the collaborative Tongal community that adds a whole new dimension to the campaign. Relevant, interesting, and engaging.

MacMillan Cancer Support “A dad with cancer is still a dad”

What: A new campaign from a U.K. cancer support center that uses an emotional touch to illustrate that life goes on after a diagnosis.

Who: MacMillan Cancer Support, VCCP

Why We Care: The ads in this campaign cover a wide variety of relationships–father, sister, lover, friend–but it was this one that hit home the hardest. The spots feature the kind of self-reflection and loving message you’d expect. But as it juxtaposes that with scenes of the tough times behind a cancer diagnosis, it only makes those precious moments that much stronger.


Xbox “More Is Better”

What: Danny McBride aims his rage at the notion of “less is more” in a new ad for Xbox Game Pass

Who: Xbox, Ayzenberg, Caviar

Why We Care: It’s about time someone got Danny McBride in full ad mode again (remember his K-Swiss MFCEO?). Now it’s to debunk the idea that less is more. Here he outlines his carefully curated theory that more is actually more. Math!

Toyota “Toyota Shorts”

What: A series of surreal short films that are more Black Mirror than traditional car ad.

Who: Toyota, Saatchi & Saatchi LA, Iconoclast


Why We Care: I’m not sure if they’ve been officially released or not–haven’t seen any ad or PR push–but, regardless, the series of two-minute shorts is a fine example of how a brand can create content worth watching that is an integral part of, without being crassly obsessed with, its own logo. Also, the Charlie Brooker influence doesn’t hurt.

Wealthsimple “Supreme Retirement Plan”

[Photo: courtesy of Wealthsimple]
What: A billboard across from the New York City flagship of iconic streetwear brand Supreme, to show the young and fashionable waiting in line for the newest gear how they may tap their passion for limited editions for retirement.

Who: Wealthsimple

Why We Care: It’s like a Hypebeast MBA, and perfectly illustrates the brand positioning as the investment tool for a new generation.

About the author

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