As we have in years past, we’re taking a look at the year’s 10 best commercials, and rather than rely on our own opinions of what’s best, we look to the best guys in the business, AdWeek, who ranked their ten favorites of 2013. I agree with their number one choice (though, I’m not sure how effective it is at selling a product, but it certainly makes a profound statement), while anything less than number three for the Jean Claude Van Damme ad seems damn near criminal to me.
As in previous years, Adweek’s Top 10 list often leans heavily on inspirational ads with moving statements over funny ones, but I’m OK with that, especially with this impressive collection of ads.
10. Kmart “Ship My Pants” — Commerce and a good poop joke have always had a successful relationship, and this hilarious commercial (and their Big Ass Savings spot) were huge hits this year, not just creatively, but the jokes were in constant rotation both on television and middle-school playgrounds.
9. Chipotle “The Scarecrow” — This moving, beautifully animated spot — a companion piece to Chipotle’s app-based game — probably could’ve won the Oscar for best short-film of the year (in fact, it came from Oscar winning production company Moonbot). The haunting, elegiac Fiona Apple rendition of Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” is the sour-cream icing on top of the burrito.
8. Robinsons “Pals” — This spot for a British juice seems, at first, like an adorable ad about two best friends spending the day together, but the twist in the end … well, let’s just say I have a huge lump in my throat now.
7. Volvo Trucks “The Epic Split featuring Van Damme” — This must have been the most viral ad for 2013 (61 million views on YouTube so far), and my God, it is impressive. A mind-blowing feat from Jean Claude Van Damme. This is how you get tons of exposure without even paying to air a spot.
6. Nike “Possibilities” — An expansion of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign on its 25th anniversary, Bradley Cooper’s dry narration added a lot to another impressive, inspirational spot from the shoe company.
5. Dick’s Sporting Goods “Every Pitch — This ad, from film director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) is not impressive for its sense of humor, or for a cool twist, but for capturing the realistic intimacy of playing baseball.
4. Geico “Hump Day” — Not my favorite campaign (and I don’t know why it’s placed so high), but Geico’s amusing use of a camel was at least effective, and it at least meant not having to see that damn lizard.
3. Guinness “Basketball” — Even without the heartwarming twist in the end, this is a nifty commercial about the lengths men go for camaraderie. Well done!
2. RAM Farmer — Anyone who grew up with their grandparents playing Paul Harvey on the radio will automatically have a strong connection with this ad, but the way in which it celebrates the hard work of a farmer is thoughtful, powerful, and poignant.
1. Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” — This is a truly, honestly remarkable ad that contrasts the way women see themselves against the way other women see them in a revelatory, moving, and strangely heartbreaking way. It’s not the funniest, wittiest, or most creative ad of the bunch, but it really is the most profound. It’s three minutes long, but if you have the time, it’s definitely worth the watch.