Home Centennial College Blog 2016 November 30 The five most memorable modern advertising campaigns

The five most memorable modern advertising campaigns

picture of two Centennial College Advertising and Marketing Communications Management program students in class on their laptops smiling

When was the last time you saw an advertisement you didn't want to skip? They're rare, but when ads really work, they stick with you and become fun little parts of pop culture. Advertising focused-sites like Inc., Hubspot and Advertising Age have compiled lists of what they consider the most effective modern ads, and here's a few of them.

The ads share one thing in common: They're all creative. In Centennial's Advertising and Marketing Communications Management program, we encourage you to find your own creative talent, and learn the strategic thinking and business savvy to execute your ideas. Taking place over three years, the program gives you a foundation in all aspects of advertising, before letting you specialize in a particular area. It's also the only GTA advertising program with a 14-week field placement, letting you learn on the job.

We'll certainly be discussing some of these ads in the program, as you'll learn how to create the next generation of inventive ideas like these:

Budweiser and "Whassup"

Hitting it big at the turn of the century, these ads featured a group of friends watching football, and repeating their strange greeting to themselves over the phone, while drinking Budweiser beer. The campaign actually began as a short film called "True," which was developed into an ad in 1999, hitting it big during the Superbowl.

But more importantly, the ad's content became viral pop culture, something that's particularly impressive when you remember there was no social media or youtube in that day, and the internet was much smaller than it is now. Parodies, mentions in television and movies, and further ads advanced its status.

Dos Equis and the Most Interesting Man in the World

A modern spin on the same idea, notable because it differed from every other ad for beer. Instead of featuring young men and women in conventional North American settings, it featured an older, distinguished gentleman. On top of that, it portrayed confidence in the brand. You didn't have to drink their beer.

Like Budweiser's ad, it succeeded because it launched a viral internet meme based on the Man's catchphrase, "I don't always [A], but when I do, I [B]." In essence, the ads also weren't being thought of as ads, but as short comedy clips that viewers actually wanted to see more of. And it worked, since Dos Equis was a former low-profile brand that everyone now knows about.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

An example of ads being used for social good, the Campaign for Real Beauty was based on market research from 2004 that showed that only four percent of women considered themselves beautiful.The campaign started with billboards in London and Canada, asking drivers to vote on pictures of women. It then moved on to include viral videos and a series of commercials focused on this idea, plugging into the rise of digital media. It succeeded because it was about something larger than soap. It was about society's notions of beauty. And we know it was a success, because other brands have followed suit in trying to find their own social cause to advance.

The Old Spice Man

Another example of an advertisement moving past its brand and becoming popular for its own sake. These ads ("Look at your man, then back to me") were created after market research showed women usually did the body wash purchasing in households, and were turned off by the ad campaigns of brands like Axe. So Old Spice created "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" to appeal to them, and turn the company into a fun-loving brand, when previously it was floundering. Not only that, but it felt like it was mocking advertisements themselves, and the audience was in on the joke, doubly so when they were invited to ask the character questions over Twitter, and watch as short response videos were created, making the campaign interactive.

As a bit of trivia, the original ad ("I'm on a horse") was done as a last resort, created by Old Spice clear out their unsold inventory. It was shot in one take, with no CGI, and became an instant success.

I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC

Computers can be dry business, so these clever ads found a way to talk about the technology without being dull. With John Hodgeman as a PC, and Justin Long as a Mac, it was a simple idea, having two comedians on a white background, joking around. It made the whole exercise feel less like an ad, and more like a comedy sketch, and the fact that the ads were funny meant people would actively seek them out for a laugh. Some 66 shorts were produced in total, all easily available online. On top of that, different versions featuring different comedians were shot for different countries, with the U.S., U.K. and Japan featuring different actors.

It was one of Apple's most successful campaigns, growing their market share by 42% in their first year. Another sure sign of success: Comedians, musicians, TV, and even other organizations used it as the basis for parodies.

By Anthony Geremia

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