Back in January, TED founder Chris Anderson announced a new initiative called Ads Worth Spreading. The concept of Ads Worth Spreading was to find the best video ads around--ads that are compelling, creative, outside-the-box, and that most represent what the future of advertising might be. Over a thousand ads were submitted, and after a carefully-selected panel viewed them all, the winners have finally been announced.
It's only my opinion, but a campaign like Ads Worth Spreading is vitally important. Brands are the video creators with the most money. They have more creative resources and more distribution experience than amateur directors and newer brands. As online video drives the creation of more entertainment-based marketing content, brands are poised to lead the charge in evolving "online video" into whatever it is destined to become.
Anderson knows this, and that's why he decided to use Ads Worth Spreading to stimulate the conversation about what an ad is and what it can be. Because of TED's reputation for forward thinking and big ideas, I've been pretty curious to see what the eventual winners would look like... and now we know.
I could just list the ads by name, brand, and creative agency, but where's the fun in that? We're a site about video, let's show you the videos--besides, a lot of these brands and creative agencies are names you probably haven't heard before, so a text-based list won't give you any real sense of it anyway. You need to see the ads to get a sense of what Anderson's vision was all about.
For those of you pressed for time, here's a 3-minute "teaser" overview of the winning ads:
For the rest of you...
The 10 Best Video Ads - TED's Ads Worth Spreading
Chrysler: "Born of Fire" (Wieden+Kennedy)
The Nike Foundation: "Girl Effect, The Clock is Ticking" (Wieden+Kennedy)
Dulux: "Dulux Walls" (Euro RSCG London)
Intel: "The Chase” (Venables Bell & Partners)
Nokia: "The World's Smallest Stop-Motion Character Animation" (Wieden + Kennedy London)
Hornbach and HEIMAT Berlin: "Infinite House" (@radical.media)
The Topsy Foundation: "Selinah” (Ogilvy Johannesburg)
Batelco: "Infinity" (FP7/DXB, Bahrain)
Savory Institute: "Changing Our Future" (Foresight Multimedia)
Target: "Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular” (Mother NY and Legs Media)
Reactions & Reflections
Overall, there are some great ads in that group. And a lot of them stand on merit as works of entertainment, rather than merely traditional commercial spots. Which is the whole point of this initiative. In the words of Chris Anderson at the outset of Ads Worth Spreading:
Our mission — of spreading ideas around the world — is supported in part by advertising. And we believe that advertising should evoke the same emotions a TEDTalk does — it should make you think, make you respond, make you want to share — a great idea, a product that makes the world better, an initiative that might change the world.
Taking a closer look at the winners, I'm not really surprised to see Wieden & Kennedy on that list so many times (three separate campaigns). Old Spice Man alone made them more of a household name (which sounds strange considering their long history of creating memorable ads--they were behind the classic "Bo Knows" ads starring Bo Jackson, among many others). I am, however, surprised to see which spots won them the acclaim. There's a certain suave body wash pitchman who is missing from that list, despite arguably being the most ubiquitous pitchman of the last year.
And I guess maybe that's my only complaint with the whole list. There's a lot of great artistry, but maybe not as much innovation as I expected. I see stop motion... I see celebrity endorsements... I see kinetic typography. And all that stuff's great--seriously, I don't want to give the impression I think those styles are dead, because they're not. And the winning ads are all great in their own right.
But where's the interactive thinking--the kind Old Spice employed when they had their spokesman create hundreds of personalized videos for personalities across the web? Or that Tipp-Ex used with their "hunter shoots a bear" ad? Or Google's Chrome Speed Test ad that was part quiz, part commercial?
On the original contest page, Anderson specifically solicits videos featuring a "new use of technology." I suppose it's possible they didn't have very many interactive ads submitted, but that seems a little strange. Maybe they had interactive ads submitted that simply weren't very good? Or maybe I'm just being too picky. The Batelco ad had an interactive Facebook component, and the Target ad definitely did some cool and innovative things with technology. I guess I just expected at least one ad that blew me away with some technique we've never seen before.
All in all, though, I can't fault them for choosing the winners they did. Each demonstrates a clear step ahead of the advertising pack in thinking and execution. Seeing ads like these, and knowing there must have been many more that didn't make the final ten, gives me a lot of hope for the immediate future of video advertising... and online video in general.
Which one is your favorite? Least favorite? Which recent ads didn't make the list that you think still represent the best of where video advertising is headed?