Choosing the best ads of the year was once a straightforward process but in the information era, where advertising is so much more than just 30-second TV spots, it’s not quite as simple as taking your ten wittiest short films and putting them in order. Advertising is also, like any artform (and yes, it IS an artform), incredibly subjective, so any list is going to inevitably rub some people up the wrong way.
So, this year I’m choosing to, frankly, throw caution to the wind and share with you the ten pieces of creative advertising that have personally touched me this year in some way. These are all ideas, campaigns and stories that caught me off-guard and made me forget I was being marketed to. These are ads I actively enjoyed, appreciated and, in many cases, liked so much I felt the need to share them with my largely disinterested spouse.
Without further ado then. Here are my 10 favourite ads of 2022.
10. A Savills Love Story
Let’s start with a bit of a silly one – a house stalking someone into buying it. As South-Facing-Garden-House and Lady-at-Station declare their love for each other, one can’t help but be caught up in the wonderful whimsy of the moment. A fun spin on classic rom coms that manages to achieve just the right level of corny. Kudos to the team at isobel for making something that could have been truly cringe-inducing work so well.
Guerrilla marketing is not usually something “vibe with.” It’s gimmicky and often a little silly and incredibly obvious, more often than not. That’s why I was so taken aback by the campaign for the (admittedly not great) Smile movie earlier this year. A case where the ad wad genuinely better than the film it was selling, this saw actors sporting a sinister grin positioned in the background of various US newscasts and sporting events. Simple, effective and so smart it gained widespread mainstream news coverage at the time. Chef’s kiss.
8. Sally’s Seashells for Squarespace
Hiring one of the most in-demand actors in the world to effectively make alliterative puns for sixty seconds was a bit of a gamble for Squarespace but it paid off. Developed to air during the Superbowl back in February, Zendaya and Andre 3000 from Outkast teamed up to deliver something truly whimsical and memorable. And it was done by Squarespace’s own in-house team too, which is impressive in and of itself.
7. Samsung’s Folding Billboard
Rarely will I see a piece of creative that makes me think “OK, I’ve not seen that before” but this OOH campaign by Iris for the folding Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 phone managed to do something fresh without spending a fortune on glitzy 3D screens. The premise was simple – the phone folds and so does the billboard. That’s it really, but it certainly caught my attention.
6. What’s Your Thing for DFS?
The never-ending DFS sale has become a bit of a meme magnet in recent years. But this year, in a refreshing twist, the furniture retailer and agency Pablo changed tactics and declared itself really interested in your style, or in their words: “What’s Your Thing?” It’s like a Wes Anderson film distilled into a TV spot and is by far the most fun we’ve seen from a DFS ad in some time. We’d love to see even more of their thing going forwards.
5. Backup Ukraine
No stories dominated the 2022 news quite like the war in Ukraine. And rightly so. Putin’s horrendous invasion has at least, however, catalysed a shared spirit of resilience in the western world that’s reflected in this meaningful effort from Virtue Worldwide. They partnered with UNESCO, startup Polycam and organisation Blue Shield Denmark to help preserve Ukraine’s culture with The Backup Ukraine app. This allowed users to photograph and scan cultural artifacts and buildings with their phones, before uploading digital 3D replicas of the monuments to the cloud. So even if Putin destroys them, they can still live on.
4. Joy for All at Boots
I was late to the party on this one, so to speak, and I didn’t really want to include a Christmas spot this year, but I was truly won over here. The concept of putting on special glasses to see “the truth” might seem like it was lifted right out of 1988 satire “They Live” but this isn’t quite as sinister. Well acted, well presented and just sappy enough, Boots and VMLY&R won Christmas this year for me.
3. The voice of the Checkout for Tesco
This year saw brands continue to try and reach TikTok audiences in a way that felt entertaining and true to the platform, and not just salesy. One of the most successful ideas came from BBH London for Tesco, which saw participants audition to be the new voice for the supermarket’s automated checkout machines. The campaign generated a massive response and saw the winner, a veterinary surgeon named Izzy, make her debut in stores in November. I’m no fan of TikTok but this is how you make the most of it.
2. The Greatest by Apple
Even though 15% of the global population is disabled, people with disabilities are often stereotyped or ignored altogether in advertising. That’s why “The Greatest,” created in-house, is significant: Its inclusive, disabled cast shows off a wide range of talents and personalities while using Apple’s innovative accessibility features. The upbeat soundtrack, featuring quotes from Muhammad Ali, sets a celebratory tone that defies tropes of disabled people as subjects to be pitied. When a brand as big as Apple champions inclusivity and accessibility, it sets the precedent for other advertisers to follow suit and that should always be celebrated.
1. CALM – The Last Photo
This one really hit me hard. Created by the always reliable adam&eveDDB, this OOH campaign for suicide prevention was a subtly harrowing feat of creative excellence that took a simple idea and made it move mountains. To highlight how 125 people die by suicide every week and that those in pain rarely reveal it to those closest to them unless asked, the campaign revealed the last photos taken of 125 individuals who then went on to take their own lives. A genuinely important piece of creative.
And that’s my list. Let me know in the comments below if you agree/disagree and let me know what your favourite pieces of creative have been this year.
Nick Harman December 23rd, 2022, around noonI am not sure ads for charities should be considered, Anyone can do a striking ad for those, which is why so many creatives fight to be given the brief.
A real challenge is doing a great ad for a mundane product.
The flip Samsung poster is okay, but it will not impress those people old enough to remember when Araldite glued a Ford Cortina to a poster site in West Ken.
Good to see you ignoring IKEA ads which seem to me to be totally off market now and self indulgent,