In my opinion, an ad should be three things: well written, gripping, and born from a simple idea. It’s a winning formula and one that is sure to produce original content.
The ads I’ve selected below are all of these things. They all have an element of suspense and had me hooked from start to finish. They all use the art of copywriting in a completely unique and interesting way. In some there is dialogue throughout, and in others there is no dialogue at all, just a single, perfectly scripted line of text at the end.
They’re all emotive, helped by the brilliant choice of music, and they stuck in my mind because they made me feel something.
Desert Island Ads
Under Armour: Rule Yourself
This was an easy choice. When I first saw this advert I was gripped; it tells a story, it’s emotive, and the sentiment around perseverance and self-discipline is a really strong thought. It’s also really relatable.
The copy ‘It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light’ resonates. As a creative in the advertising industry, you can often do a lot in the dark before an idea ever really takes off, and it’s the work you put in behind the scenes that really produces an amazing result.
Couple the overarching idea with an amazing director of photography and the perfect choice of music and I think this ad is pretty hard to beat. But I’m going to try..
Charlie Sheen DIRECTV
I would include this whole series if I could. In general, I think all of the adverts are great, but I picked this one to represent them all. The copywriting is brilliant, punchy, and simple but hugely effective, and it sets the perfect tone of voice for the brand. It’s rhythmic, which adds to the humour; and Charlie Sheen’s cameo appearance is so random that it works. It has to come with me to my desert island for its originality and outside-the-box thinking.
I love this advert because it’s shot like a movie, is completely gripping throughout, and is hugely entertaining. The lack of dialogue is a great trick to get people to look at the screen and wonder: is it an advert? Is it a movie? Where is he running? You have no idea where this character will end up, and I certainly never guessed it would be inside a closet in a couple’s bedroom. The final copy, ‘Never underestimate the power of a good story,’ is genius, and suddenly the whole advert makes sense. An amazing idea and such craft.
Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
This is another I’ve picked because of its brilliant copywriting. Again, it’s super simple, filmed in just one shot, and totally iconic. It gives the audience a bit of escapism, and it’s light-hearted to reflect the product.
I had to include this one because it’s like a piece of art. So beautifully directed with an amazing flow—and I struggled to look away. It’s also so close to culture, something we’re passionate about at Virtue. Being part of the VICE Media Group means we can work from inside culture, and this advert is a perfect example of doing just that. Leading the charge rather than following a trend.
John Lewis: Gifts You Can’t Wait to Give
I think sometimes Christmas adverts can get overlooked outside of the festive period, but that time of year consistently generates some of the most creative adverts so I had to include my favourite one from John Lewis in this round up. This choice is similar to a couple of others in my selection as it has the mystery factor. You’re wondering what is going on for the whole advert until the very last scene. I also have to mention how remarkable the performance of the little boy is, truly believable; and the choice of music is perfect.
Volvo Trucks: Epic Splits/Jean-Claude Van Damme
I’ll finish with this one. This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone. This advert is iconic. Brilliantly simple and completely original. Again, fantastic copywriting. No explanation needed.