Truth be told – I don’t really like ads. At least not in the traditional sense. A piece of content becomes an ad as soon as the audience becomes aware of the product being sold to them. The illusion is broken and the audience wants to move on to the content they are trying to consume.
What I do like, however, is brand-driven stories that are able to rise above the noise and tell a story that is either culturally significant or makes a rethink human behavior.
It is with that lens that I selected two ads I like and one that I don’t. Each of these spots either nails the cultural conversation or attempts it and fails.
Created by Wieden + Kennedy, ‘Instagram stories are everywhere’ is one of the most delightful campaigns of 2017 .
What I love about this is the context. After Zuckerburg’s failed attempt to purchase Snapchat, Instagram began aping many of its features and the launch of stories was arguably the most important. The stakes were so incredibly high however they managed to still produce something brutally simple that perfectly captures both the audience and the product.
Selling creative tools is hard. Just look at the numerous ads for phones and tablets that feature people drawing on screens and taking selfies. They are all the same! Instagram however was able to leapfrog the pack by crafting a story that balances epic human moments with their silly social media counterparts. It’s the world through the lens on Instagram stories.
This is more than an ad, it’s a brilliant suite of content pieces designed to scale across a breadth of different ad sizes and formats.
Good ads also make us look at life from new perspectives. This ad for Uber in Asia (created by Forsman & Bodenfors) is brilliant because it has the power to change consumer behaviour through a powerful metaphor.
Traffic jams in Asian cities is the worst. In fact 4 in 10 drivers have considered ditching their car in the last year due to the frustration in traffic, Uber said. The spot shows drivers getting around in cardboard boxes rather than cars. The effect is that it showcases the emotional toll of what is a very physical problem, and then proposes ride sharing as a solution. Everything from the music to edit just all comes together seamlessly.
One that Almost Got There
Audi’s Super Bowl spot from 2017 is just the worse. They attempted to hijack the feminist empowerment movement but did so in the most disingenuous way. It’s the lack of Audi having an authentic role to play in this conversation that makes it feel un-authentic.
This is one of those ads that isn’t able to escape feeling like an ad. And it’s for that very reason that it fails. It’s a blatant attempt for the brand to be a part of the cultural and political narrative but isn’t founded on any company or product truth. What’s worse, it was later revealed that all 6 of Audi’s executive team were men.
It’s a shame really because the production company did a really beautiful job with the casting, edit, cinematography and music. It’s been said that they should have instead focused on status and accomplishment as a better way to speak to both male and female audiences. Big brands like Audi should always take the higher ground and avoid getting caught up in a debate.