Steve White

Five TV advertising campaigns that stood out for me in 2012

So another year draws to an end, and now’s the time you start looking back at the things that made it memorable. Naturally, being a self-confessed advertising nerd, some of the best moments of this year came in the form of the brilliant advertising campaigns I saw. The ads that made me instantly think ‘awww, I wish I’d done that’. That happened quite a few times in 2012, but I managed to narrow those moments down to five. Take a look below and see if you agree with my selection!

Favourite TV advertising campaign of 2012

From John Lewis’ time travelling ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ to Paddy Power’s ‘Chav Tranquiliser’, there were lots of TV commercials that grabbed my attention this year. But for me, none of them came close to DirecTV’s hilarious Death by Cable campaign. Why? Because they made loads of TV spots, and they all managed to be hilarious – and that’s some accomplishment.

The idea was simple: having cable always leads to despair. Every ad always starts with a small cable issue that snowballs into much bigger problems. That’s everything from having your house blown up to re-enacting Platoon in your living room with Charlie Sheen; yes these ads were at times comically dark. Just my cup of tea! But more importantly, they’re memorable and you’re happy to watch them again and again. Which is why these ads rack up hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

How can anyone not laugh at copy like this?

”When you fake your own death, you dye your eyebrows. And when you dye your eyebrows, you attend your own funeral as a guy named Phil Shifley. Don’t attend your funeral as a guy named Phil Shifley.”

A car that made us say wow

An invisible car… who thought we’d ever really see one of those? Besides in that rubbish James Bond film, of course. But that’s exactly what we saw last March (well, we didn’t see anything, but I guess that’s the point), because not only did some clever Japanese scientists make invisible cars a reality in 2012, they were introduced in the form of a lovely ad by Mercedes. As far as we were concerned it was a win-win!

In Mercedes promotional video, they patch one of their hydrogen-fuelled cars with LEDs to make it invisible. Hydrogen fuel cell technology will make emissions disappear. So what better way to communicate that than to make a car disappear? It’s a neat idea and scenes of the car driving through the streets of Hamburg and over the bridges of Bavaria are just jaw dropping.

What is it about big red buttons?

You see one and you just want to press it. You know you’re not supposed to, but you hear a little voice in your head urging you to do it, and you just can’t help yourself. This year a lovely piece of ambient was made for TNT that played on the hypnotic power of a big red button. One was placed on a quiet square in Belgium, along with the call to action, ‘Push to add drama’. Of course, people did and then chaos broke out. A man on a stretcher falls out of an ambulance, a cyclist has a kung fu hustle with one of the paramedics and then a gunfight starts. We can’t think of a more attention-grabbing and fun way to garner awareness for a new TV channel, which is why this made it onto our list of favourites.

Bodyform gives a lesson on how to respond to your audience on Facebook

Over the last couple of years there’s been a huge influx in the number of brands embracing Facebook. It’s a tool that gives companies direct communication with their customers and vice versa. However, Facebook does leave brands open to criticism and jokes at their expense. Take Bodyform for example, they received a sarcastic post on their Facebook page from a Mr Richard Neil. He jokingly lamented Bodyform for creating the perception that women were particularly happy and adventurous at that ‘special time of month’. Richard received 87,000 likes and received over 4,500 comments.

So what did Bodyform do? They created a hilarious web video that sarcastically responds to Richard’s comments. The video stars fictional Bodyform CEO Caroline Williams who delivers a withering explanation to Richard’s remarks. It’s beautifully scripted, turning Richard’s comments on their head while showing a human side to the brand. What’s more impressive is the fact that the whole video talks directly to Richard, showing a unique one-to-one interaction with Bodyform’s Facebook followers.

Tic Tac saves the world from bad breath

Stunts don’t get much bigger than this… Tic Tac France created an ad that saw everyone in the town of Rouen collapse due to one innocent bystander’s bad breath. The video starts with actors asking innocent by-standers for directions. As they ask the question, they faint along with everyone around them. A large screen then shows the whole town collapsing, leaving the by-stander on their own.

It quickly becomes obvious that the problem is bad breath and only a Tic Tac will be able to save the day. Usually when I watch viral ads I’m immediately suspicious as to whether the audiences’ reactions are real or in fact they’re just very good actors. But after a bit of digging I discovered that most of the people who participated in this live stunt are really citizens of the town. And that only made me love this ad even more!