Planful’s Vote for Best Ads of 2017

By Jenn Clark

Although at times annoying, advertising helps inform your audience that you exist. When done right, something magical happens…you actually enjoy viewing it. Ever see an ad that really sticks with you? Yeah, us too. When we see an ad that stands out to us, though, we’re analyzing everything from the storyline down to imagery and placement. All of this plays a part in its success. So, this year, we decided to cast our vote for the top ads.

Our Picks for the Best Ads of 2017:

Burger King | “Bullying Jr.”

Brief: Burger King shares in their public service announcement (PSA) ad that 30% of students are bullied nationwide. To drive the message home, they hide cameras in one of their locations and film young actors being bullied along with one of their signature Whopper Jr.’s to see which received the most complaints. Can you guess who “won” that battle?

Why we love it: The fast-food chain spent marketing dollars to take a strong stance against something that children generation after generation deal with (instead of using it to show why they are better than their competitors). While their product is incorporated, they don’t use the ad to necessarily sell their food but to shine a light on the actions we should (and need to) take when we witness someone being mistreated. They were able to generate brand AND social awareness into one ad. Not to mention, they kept our attention for the full 2:58, which, let’s face it, is hard to do.

Hearthrow Airport | #HearthrowBears

Brief: Hearthrow Airport is a major international airport located in London, UK. Last year, they used two British teddy bears to tell a story of coming home for the holidays, and this year, they expanded upon that story over a 50-year timeline.

Why we love it: This ad is not only adorable, but it tugs at your heartstrings. It proves that you don’t always need to have a special or promotion to grab the attention of your audience, and they even created a landing page for viewers to learn more about Mr. and Mrs. Bear on their website. This landing page includes an interactive quiz to see which of the bears you are, a holiday message you can share with loved ones on social media, and even a look at  the behind-the-scenes of the ad. See it here. A++ all around.

MailChimp | “Did You Mean MailChimp?”

Brief: At the start this year, MailChimp, an email marketing platform, launched a campaign that included mini-videos and print ads that played off their name. This was done in an effort to combat the challenges they were facing of people not being able to correctly pronounce their name.

Why we love it: MailChimp took an issue with potential consumers not being able to remember their brand name and turned it into an ad campaign. Wonderfully bizarre, the series of ads they published did not mention what it is they do but still drew attention to their website. They banked on the natural curiosity of humans, and it worked out well for them.

Gap | “Meet Me in the Gap”

Brief: Gap teamed up with New York creative agency, Yard, to design a campaign that combined two unlikely artists together in a series of ads containing the tagline, “Meet me in the Gap.” According to AdAge, each set was filmed unscripted to emphasize the different perspectives coming together.

Why we love it: Without seeing their icon or logo, you know right away these clips are a part of Gap. Their style and brand shine through while still using their platform to send a powerful message. In fact, Yard told AdAge that the purpose of the campaign is to communicate the idea that when we meet people with opposing lifestyles or thoughts and have the opportunity to close the gaps between us, we find that we are more alike than we think. Need we say more?

BVLGARI | BZERO1 Design Legend

Brief: The high-end jewelry company had this ad developed to promote a new collection by jewelry designer Zaha Hadid. Parts of it were incorporated in various avenues online, including their social media pages and their website.

Why we love it: Campaigns don’t always need to cause an emotional reaction; sometimes, they are simply art, as is the case with this animation. From the suspense-building music to the reveal of the jewelry through the liquid gold, this ad grabs your attention and generates curiosity with only a brief view of the actual ring and limited text. For this reason, we knew we had to include it on our list of best ads of 2017.

Levi’s® | “Circles”

Brief: The classic clothing company, who, in recent years, has been making an attempt to revive itself after facing a decline in sales, put together this ad to not only show the range of their product but to celebrate individuality.

Why we love it: We love this ad because of the catchy music, the diversity (both in age and culturally), and the overall style. Like others we have mentioned previously, they need to include a minimal script in order to send a clear message. Along with celebrating everyone’s uniqueness, they show that their jeans look great on all age groups, not just “dads.”

General Electric | What if Millie Dresselhaus, female scientist, was treated like a celebrity?

Brief: This is less of an ad and more of an announcement of GE’s goal to increase the number of women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In the production, they pose the question, “what if we treated brilliant women in science like stars?” They feature Mildred Desselhaus, a professor emerita of the Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) whose research in carbon changed the way we use it today.

Why we love it: The company brought attention and awareness to an issue of a lack of women in the STEM fields of study as well as introducing the audience to an individual who, regardless of gender, made giant waves in science.

Subaru| ‘Share the Love’ Campaign

Brief: Subaru hired Cause Marketing to put out a series of ads each featuring a different story for a specific charity during their ‘Share the Love’ campaign. During their annual campaign, the company donates a certain amount of funds to a series of charities for each Subaru vehicle sold. In just 10 years, Subaru states that over $115 million has been donated to charities like Make-A-Wish®, the ASPCA®, Meals on Wheels America, and the National Park Foundation thanks to this campaign.

Why we love it: “Sharing the love” of your companies profits to help wonderful causes always gets two thumbs up from us. Not to mention, we don’t think there was one ad in this series that didn’t make our eyes water. I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING.

The campaigns featured made our best ads of 2017 list due to their creativity, originality, the capability to tell a strong story, and staying aligned with brand and company goals. Some used their large following to deliver a message and others captivated us with strong visuals. There are many others we could add to the list, but these stood out to us the most.

What was your favorite ad in 2017?