David Billing of Above+Beyond: best ads of 2016

My favourite ads of the year, for the most part, aren’t ads. For me, the brands that successfully landed in audience culture in 2016 (like TV used to) have been playing with PR, stunts, cultural hijacks, even music promos.

But, still, a few films caught my eye and we’re here to talk ads. So why don’t I stop blathering and tell you which ones.

Best ads of 2016

IKEA – Let’s Relax

You could have made a very boring film about the current trend for Instagramming whatever’s on our plates. But IKEA, and Acne, didn’t. They took this little cultural observation and exploded it out into a wonderfully indulgent, sumptuous feast of a micro-period-drama. I love how our modern obsessions are firmly skewered here. A great demonstration of how audience-focussed thinking and great advertising film craft can be easy bedfellows.


Stella McCartney – POP

In my life before advertising, people actually paid me to be a music producer and songwriter. I still have a soft spot for a well-shot pop promo, but playing fair by the rules of this review, I couldn’t really nominate one. So here’s the next best thing. Beautifully crafted, slightly subversive, just the right side of saccharine sweet, this film by PrettyBird for Stella McCartney makes expert use of an amazing Grimes soundtrack.


Virgin Atlantic – #GetOutOfOffice

I hope it’s a coincidence, rather than professional jealousy, that’s only seen me pick one piece of work by an actual UK creative agency. Like the Ikea spot, this starts with a lovely little cultural nugget – that UK office workers simply aren’t taking their annual holiday entitlement. Now, if we were being picky, we could probably point to some wider global trends that could be responsible (i.e. no one can afford to go on holiday any more). But in the meantime, let’s enjoy this lo-fi tribute to the godawful travel shows of the 80s that, tragically, I can remember first time round. Whether the target audience can or not is another matter. But that’s picky, right?

And with that, it’s time for me to #getoutofoffice.

David Billing (below) is ECD of Above+Beyond.


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