Ads of the Year.
Trying to remember a good, recent ad is like trying to remember a joke. So I had to scroll through my WhatsApp groups to find the ads that my non-advertising friends shared with me, along with their always depressing question ‘Is this one of yours?’.
This year they shared just two. Both long form content. Both brilliantly written. Both totally unskippable.
The Paddy Power ad that was seeded online around the time of the Euros was a brilliant example of how a non-sponsor can still get in on the action and grab some attention. The premise of a deluded nation, so high on Euro 96 nostalgia that they believe they actually won the tournament is just hilarious. And, worryingly, not that much of a stretch. ‘And Terry Venables took us all to Argos’ The wooden acting only seems to make it funnier. Two minutes of absolute joy.
The other ad, for Balenciaga, was even longer at 10 minutes. It’s not often you see that on a media plan. Nor a production budget big enough to cover an episode of the The Simpsons . I can’t imagine how much they would have cost, but I suspect a little more than Sol, Teddy and Barry from EastEnders.
Are Marge and Homer a great fit for the Balenciaga audience? I don’t know. But maybe that was the point – this forty-something now knows who Balenciaga are and what they do.
Yes, you can feel the presence of the brand in the writers’ room at times, but that can be forgiven for the beautiful moments of self-awareness “send me the cheapest thing with your label on it” and the way the truths of ‘wear and return’ are not just acknowledged but celebrated. ‘Don’t sweat in it!’ It’s just magic.
Is it an episode? Is it an ad? It blurs the lines – that’s what great content does.
Two amazing offerings that, in different ways, tap into the glory days of their audiences. One from a brand being brilliantly consistent and one from a brand making a big, brave leap with a totally unexpected collaboration.
I wish I could remember more great ads from this year. It’s not that there weren’t any (HSBC’s Viscous Circle was a cracker) it’s just that all my available grey matter is still being occupied with memories me scoring in the Euro 96 final.
Tom Drew is ECD of Wunderman Thompson in London. He is a former creative director at BBH.