Most Influential Ads of the 21st Century

Ad Age just published its own list of most influential campaigns in the 21st Century so far. (Yes, most of them ARE on Mooketing), but here is the list of the top 10 campaigns that you have to know about at the back of your head. (& front too!):

1.    Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty (2004, Ogilvy)
This was a bold move by a Unilever brand to challenge cultural norms. The idea was to start a discussion around the notion that the definition of beautiful had become limiting. There have been a range of award-winning executions, including a film in 2006, “Evolution” and a follow-up in 2013 with the moving “Sketches” work.
2.    Nike: Nike+ (2007, R/GA)
This campaign stretched the possibilities for marketing into a new realm — forget TV commercials. Now agencies could create platforms. In partnership with Apple, R/GA created this system for Nike to hook up shoes with a tracking device that could wireless connect with an athlete’s iPod, transmitting running stats that can be uploaded to iTunes. The site then let athletes track their own goals and hook up with a larger community or runners to compare performance. That evolved into another winning effort with the Fuelband a few years later, sparking the whole wearables trend. For an agency, it is the Holy Grail; to not just influence the advertising of a product but to be in on the ground floor of the development of it as well.
3.    BMW Films (2001, Fallon)
This campaign defined modern branded entertainment: eight short internet films, each conceived by a different filmmaker, with celebrity Clive Owen as the big star. And in each, BMW vehicles are integrated into the scripts (such as Chosen, Ambush, The Follow, The Star, Powder Keg). The movies were seen 11 million times in a matter of four months, and the carmaker saw its sales increase 12% in the span of a year.
4.    Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (2010, Wieden & Kennedy)
This effort revived an old-school brand for P&G. It was a feat of storytelling through digital, explaining how the handsome Isaiah Mustafah was the ideal man for women. The sheer scale of it and the ability to create the Responses campaign, which was customized tailored content in a flash, showed how brands could use social channels for CRM and interaction with Old Spice’s biggest fans.
5.    Red Bull: Stratos (2012)
There have been shows, concerts, sporting events but Felix Baumgartner’s stunt was the first and only sponsored leap from the edge of space. The 24-mile freefall jump broke 5 Guinness records and it also sold plenty of product. TV, radio and other news outlets everywhere tuned into the event via live stream and the brand earned tons of media mentions. In the first six months after the “Stratos” effort, Red Bull sales rose 7% to $1.6 billion.
6.    Burger King: Subservient Chicken (2004, Crispin Porter & Bogusky)
This approach took literally the idea of Burger King’s message to consumers: “Get Chicken the Way You Want It.” This interactive idea came with an intentionally lo-fi look — a man in a chicken costume in a simple living room setting. Users could submit commands and the human chicken would respond. It was a stunt that went viral and was so successful that it was used in future campaigns. Underscoring the campaign’s popularity, the chain has just brought the Subservient Chicken back after a decade.
7.    American Express: Small Business Saturday (2010, Digitas, CP&B)
Started the day after Black Friday encouraging shoppers to visit Main Street brick and mortar shops to help patronize them amid the shopping season rather than just big box or, increasingly, shopping online. The first year Amex bought Facebook inventory that it turned over to small merchants, and made a success out of the hashtag #smallbusinesssaturday. It was an example of a campaign that started as a one-time promotion but had legs beyond that day, and is now still recognized. The campaign has solidified its reputation amid the very important small business community.
8.    Apple: Get a Mac (2006, TBWA/Media Arts Lab)
A rare example of an effective, palatable comparative ad campaign. Each ad, in which John Hodgman personified a PC and Justin Long personified Apple, managed to portray PCs (and thus Microsoft) in a brutal way. PCs were painted as inferior, unreliable and virus-ridden. Yet the ads were entertaining, making fans for Apple beyond just the fanboys. Market share went up. The series became so successful there were 66 ‘Get a Mac’ ads in all. And the consistency was uncanny, all overseen by the same director at Epoch Films.
9.    P&G: Thank You, Mom (2012, Wieden & Kennedy)
Rather than sponsor just the Olympics, P&G saw value in sponsoring those who make the games happen. Not the athletes, but the families and specifically the Moms who support the athletes all throughout their childhood. A series of emotional spots rolled out and as part of the campaign, and in an updated version for 2014, P&G sent $1,000 Visa gift cards to each of the 357 Olympic athletes’ moms to help them travel to Sochi. The masterfully edited spot “Best Job” won the Emmy for best Primetime Commercial.
10.    American Legacy Foundation: Truth (2000, Arnold, CP&B)
Inspired by a Florida state campaign, Truth, launched in February 2000, and is the largest national youth anti-smoking campaign. It’s also the only national campaign not overseen by the tobacco industry. Through unconventional methods including public stunts and bold billboards, the campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about the health effects and social consequences of smoking.
This article was written in collaboration with Ad Age. To deep dive into these ads, visit:

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