We are a mere 24 days from the conclusion of 2017, and what a year it has been. A year where unattractive semi-redheads have dominated pop culture (i.e. Donald Trump, Ed Sheeran), the masses were repeatedly told to sit down and be humble, Frances McDormand kicked teenagers in the crotch, Jon Snow got it on with his attractive aunt, and much, much more. Through it all, some truly terrific advertisements were released around the world, and we decided to sift through thousands of hours of footage (or read a few “best of” articles, either way) and pick out some that are being recognized as the best of the year. Enjoy!
Gravity Daze 2: “Gravity Cat,” Japan
To promote the game Gravity Daze 2 (known as Gravity Rush 2 here in America), Playstation could have just gone the usual video game promotion route by just showing a few clips of gameplay, but this Japanese commercial went a wildly ambitious route instead, building a rotating set (similar to “Inception”) in an ad that both defied expectations as well as, seemingly, gravity.
Burger King: “OK Google,” United States
This little fifteen second ad caused a veritable fecal storm with a pretty simple premise; the Burger King employee in it doesn’t have time to tell you about the Whopper, so he just says “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The commercial proceeded to activate Google Home on various devices and tick a lot of people off. Having said that, the best advertising is memorable advertising, and Burger King nailed that.
84 Lumber: “The Journey,” United States
If Burger King activating Google Home was like hitting a layup of pissing people off, sweet fancy Moses, 84 Lumber drained a three from half-court with their Super Bowl ad. This is affective advertising, but it straddled that line of being affective positively and affective negatively. Some people praised its political boldness on such a large platform; others deemed it as an epic, controversial failure. But sure as shootin’, it definitely is memorable.
The National Lottery: “Let’s Not Be Blunt,” United Kingdom
This one was a hit overseas as James Blunt, singer of the legendary depression ballad “You’re Beautiful,” plays an ego-driven version of himself as he creates a technological innovation to elevate the spirit of the people of the U.K. It’s the spectacular failure of said ridiculous plan and the comedy that accompanies it that makes this one great.
Samsung: “Ostrich,” United States
This is another one where it’s a pretty simple premise pulled off to perfection. An ostrich stumbles upon a virtual reality headset, and proceeds to live out its dreams of flight. It would be like the vertically-challenged writer of this blog putting a VR headset on and living the life of Shaquille O’Neal. Again, a simple idea, but executed with just the right amount of whimsy and Adorable Animal Factor that it became one of the most acclaimed commercials of the year.
The New York Times: “The Truth is Hard to Find,” United States
Whatever side of the political fence you may be setting up shop on, a majority of people can agree; news media is pretty embattled right now, and The New York Times has been right in the tumult. In response, they released a series of ads in which they attempt to make a stand not just for themselves, but for support for journalism in general. Regardless of your political orientation, the ads are undeniably moving.
Coca-Cola: “Line-Up Song,” Egypt and “The Pool Boy,” United States
Some companies just hit it out of the park a few times this year, and Coke was one of them, with a duo of fantastic commercials.
“The Pool Boy” is more what you’d expect from a big time ad master like Coke; excellent comedic timing, entertaining, and, in this case, pretty visually appealing as well.
It’s the “Line-Up Song” ad, though, that really is operating on its own plane of reality. The ad is so strange it’s nearly surreal, as Coke crafts a song to endorse the Egyptian national football team to the tune of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” … totally to infuriate Pepsi, the team’s actual sponsor. The result? An award-winning commercial.
Volkswagen: “Laughing Horses,” Germany, “The Button,” United Kingdom, and “Fast Film- Slow Motion,” Argentina
Volkswagen, to use a phrase I frankly despise using but may be appropriate in this regard, was absolutely LIT this year. It was so lit, in fact, it nearly burst into proverbial flames, with three truly fantastic, acclaimed commercials, all excelling in different ways.
“Laughing Horses” is just pure concept, which is just...laughing horses. But the horses are laughing so hysterically at the poor, vehicularly inept farmer that it can’t be resisted.
“The Button,” on the other hand, isn’t as comical, but it boasts some seriously jaw-dropping production design and direction. Before getting to the obligatory car shot at the end, it blasts through six incredible sets, all with the tones and visuals you’d associate with the genres their spoofing.
But the real treasure of this bunch is the “Fast Film- Slow Motion.” The commercial is, in reality, a tracking shot that really only lasts three seconds. But it’s made in serious slow motion, the slowest of motions, and the result is truly amazing; the camera goes one hundred meters, catching over twenty actors staged in various scenes. The rehearsal and preparation that had to take place to achieve this commercial had to just be preposterous, but oh diggity, was it worth it.
Jose Cuervo: “Last Days,” United States
Oof, what a freaking ad. This is one of, if not the, most acclaimed commercial of the year, and it deserves every single award it received. The premise is that the world is quite literally ending, and a posse of guests at a little cantina decide to just get dumpstered on Cuervo while the world crumbles around them to the tune of Elvis’ “It’s Now or Never.” It would be winning and obscenely entertaining just with that conceit, but it really transcends expectation thanks to some breathtakingl cinematography, which is more impressive than some movies that came out this year. The coloring, lighting, really all the technical specs aren’t just on point, they obliterate the point. Stunning, stunning stuff.
Now, an ad that holds a very special and dear place in the hearts of Trove associates, and just in time for Christmas.
Marks and Spencer: “Paddington and The Christmas Visitor,” United Kingdom
Starring a spritely little English teddy bear who unintentionally helps a burglar redeem himself on Christmas Eve...only to be the victim of a most vicious insult. The commercial is alright, but if you want to, shoot straight to the 1:10 mark and listen very carefully for the most casual and earnest f-bomb you’ll ever hear.