Ben Harwood is European creative director at Feed and also co-founder of branding agency So Far So Good. He works with clients including eBay, Spotify, Nestle and Adidas.
Desert Island Ads
I’ve always loved the innate ability of adverts to make you feel something. They ignite conversations, stir emotions, force you to remember times in your life you thought you’d forgotten. Regardless of whether you work in the advertising industry or not, they’re always a good bet for a coffee break discussion and more recently, they’ve provided a real comfort during lockdown with their power to make us feel connected to others, despite the physical distance. I’ve picked these adverts for their rawness, their ability to get under my skin, but also for their originality. Finding a new concept, idea or way of doing things in such a saturated industry is a hugely exciting prospect and it’s something I’m hugely passionate about in my role at Feed. I respect brands that have the courage to back a cause but even more so if they do it with integrity and authenticity in a refreshingly original way.
Nike – Dream Crazier
Emotional and poignant. This one had to make the cut. It tells an amazing story about the progress we’ve made but acknowledges there is still a way to go. How inspiring this ad must be for current and future generations of women. Nike have been utilising archive footage of sports across a lot of their campaigns recently and although sometimes not the high quality 5K viewing we’ve become accustomed to, it somehow still manages to tell an even better story of time, transition and progress. The perfect example of getting diversity and inclusion just right.
Avis – When you’re number two you try harder, or else
I love the classic, simple, bold, longer form copywriting that is crafted to perfection in these adverts. Every word works hard. It’s deliberate in its attempt to make life miserable for the market leader (in this case Hertz) forcing them to respond, and by doing so, advertising Avis for free. It’s a genius work of positioning, playing hardball against the competition, and winning.
KFC – Chicken Town
In these 60 seconds we’re taken on a journey through the wild west, (or is it south London?) accompanied by the drooling Hollywood-esque voice of the Colonel. KFC have really hit the right tone here, oozing confidence without sounding arrogant as we see the subtle details of chicken shop copy-cats shine through in the reflections of passing cars and shop windows. This campaign is inspired. The air of mystery works really well and emphasises the character of the brand without ever showing the Colonel himself. All that, and what a soundtrack.
I also love the print execution for this campaign – it’s good fun and feels as though you might actually recognise some of the featured shops from your own London street!
WeTransfer – Please Leave
Another really bold advert, effective in highlighting how fast, useful and convenient the WeTransfer product is while reminding us how much time it gives back to us to just be…us.
It’s also quite poignant at a time when psychologists are worried about technology’s effect on our society and our mental state. The message of getting your work done and walking away to live your life is on point.
Channel 4 – Complaints are welcome
Beautifully original, and fiercely proud. This campaign was genius in using real-life comments from the web to showcase how in touch channel 4 is with the speed of social and the ever evolving attitudes and reactions of its viewers. I also love that this advert is full of lots of little details which means you can watch it over and over and always spot something new.
It’s amusing and also showcases the breadth of content that channel 4 offers while simultaneously showcasing the comedic value of their talent. They make an important point in a really intelligent and engaging way. And who knows, it might even stop some trolls!
Avis is a great choice Ben.
From DDB in its heyday and conceived by Paula Green – a Jewish copywriter and (probably) an Italian art director (as was the fashion in NYC 50 years ago). Credit must be given to Bill Bernbach for supporting the idea and to the brave Avis client.
As any creative drector worth his salt will tell you, recognising and supporting a big idea is much harder than it looks.