There’s ALWAYS hazard in declaring something the best.
Like that diner you see hours into a road trip that claims the ‘best pie in the state’.
You won’t believe it at first glance. You may even laugh.
But something makes you stop... Maybe you just want to call bullsh*t on that oversized billboard and its ridiculous claim. Whatever, you try the pie. And you know what?
It is the best pie you’ve ever tried. Of course you haven’t eaten for hours and you can’t remember the last time you ate pie but damn, if it isn’t delicious.
But this isn’t about pie. It’s about ads.
Our crew have handpicked their favorite ads of all time, and after several cycles of shortlisting and review, the top 10 (OK, 13) are here.
You may not believe us, but have a taste. You might be surprised.
Think you know better? Leave us your suggestions in the comments or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
VW Golf: Enjoy the Everyday
Let’s hurl the cat amongst the pigeons. One of the top ads of all time? Definitely. This classic ad subverts car commercial cliches entirely, opting for a montage about everyday experiences seen in an entirely new light.
The soundtrack delivers the killer blow - made entirely out of diegetic sound from the clips. Ah, the joy of being human. Genius. Check it out.
Adidas: Your Future Is Not Mine
A teaser for the new season of Black Mirror? Dark, futuristic and laden with symbolism that’s bound to make you ponder, it truly stands up to repeat viewings.
It's a step in the right direction for the call-to-arms theme that Pepsi recently tarnished. Plus, it’s got a killer soundtrack that will stick in your head for days.
Sony Bravia: Bouncy Balls
Ever wonder what happens when you tip a quarter of a million bouncy balls down a San Francisco hill? Neither did we, until this spot for Sony Bravia blew up at the end of 2006.
Instant classic. Period.
Canal Plus: The Closet
Comedy is often hit or miss in advertising. We reckon this one is a hit. You’re thrown right into the action, dragged through a ridiculous series of events and spat out with a brilliant punchline.
Zazoo: Little Boy
If you have kids, you may have had a moment like this before. We hope you haven’t. This ad was banned in multiple territories following controversy, but hey, who cares? We love it.
TFL: Awareness Test
Part of a campaign for Transport For London, the awareness tests are intended to promote awareness of cyclists on London’s busy streets. This ad does exactly that. Go take the test - if you get it the first time you’re probably lying. Or it wasn’t your first time.
Got a tiny attention span? Great. This campaign took all of the tropes of bad advertising - the huge logo, the generic savings message, the cheesy music and stock photo visuals - and shamelessly put them together for what is arguably the lowest and most despicable format, the pre-roll ad.
Old Spice: The man your man could smell like
If you work in advertising, you know this campaign. If you don’t work in advertising, you probably still do. It’s a campaign that quickly became a cultural phenomenon as much as advertisements for a body wash, because it did something that hadn’t been done before - personally generated responses to people who engaged through social media. Well, that and Isaiah Mustafa’s absolutely absurd final line.
Sure, it looks dated now, but Apple’s 1984 super bowl commercial changed not only the advertising world, but the future of America’s then-nascent computer industry. It ranks at the top of numerous lists of the top ads of all time, and for good reason - it’s paradigm breaking. And get this: the executives wanted to bin it.
Guinness: White Horses
There was a time where you could find a framed picture of the horse-crested waves from this spot on the wall of any half-decent pub on the planet. It’s not often that you get such striking black and white cinematography in advertising, much less so in a beer ad. Together with the driving soundtrack and raw energy of the edit, Jonathan Glazer’s Surfer spot has stood the test of time, and in doing so, stayed true to its tagline.
John West: Man VS Bear
A bear and a fisherman have a kung-fu fight on the bank of a river. Speaks for itself.
P&G: Best Job
Here’s a challenge: watch this without tearing up. We dare you. This spot really tugs the heartstrings, and in a way that almost everyone can relate to. Combine that with some brilliant cinematography and universalizing montage and you’ve got yourself a formidable advert.
No top ad list would be complete without a spot by Michel Gondry, so here’s a classic. So classic, in fact, that you could almost be fooled that film cameras and editing suites were stock-standard for small town America in 1873. A hint of comedy crossed with film-noir and the kind of attitude that made Levi’s famous. Classic.
Those were our picks - contentious? Yes of course. Got any better? Send us an email at email@example.com, or connect with us via the social links below.