Updated: Jun 23
As taboo as this may sound, I love ads. It’s actually what compelled me to consider the industry I’m currently in (although I totally thought I was going to be a high-paid advertising executive and/or director of commercials when I was a kid, but fate intervened). I seem to be the only one who really enjoys watching commercials these days so I find that I’m always bookmarking the ones that stand out & delight me. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.
PURPOSE DRIVEN TRAVEL
Black & Abroad - Go Back to Africa
The Go Back to Africa Campaign has to be one of the smartest, most compelling ads I’ve ever come across. It takes a real-life, negative phenomenon specific to the African American experience, and turns it into a positive opportunity for African Americans to get back in touch with their roots.
The campaign follows in the tradition of African Americans flipping negative narratives about who & what people think they are into a highly covetable cultural experience & destination that others wish they could be a part of. With mesmerizing imagery & rhythmic sounds from the motherland, this campaign is all about making sure African Americans know where they came from and reassuring them that they will always be welcomed there, something Black travelers are often leery of when contemplating stepping foot outside their own door, let alone other continents.
Renault Clio- 30 Years in the Making
This Renault Clio Campaign, as one twitter user noted, seems to be a short film that just so happens to be attached to a car advertisement. The story has been written so well that the typical debates about a brand’s permission to play in a story line so personal & rich are almost null & void.
I loved everything about this ad, which tells the story of a budding friendship between two girls overtime and the ups and downs that sometimes come with loving the ones we cherish so deeply. There is a beautiful plot twist within the ad that makes the story even more meaningful and memorable. Overall, it is one of the best storytelling ads/ short films I’ve ever seen.
FLIPPING THE SWITCH
Thinx - MENstration
Taboo topics around naturally occurring bodily functions like periods or girls pooping have slowly begun the process of becoming destigmatized in favor of normalization & advocacy for women around the world. The conversation around period acceptance has been changing thanks to in-your-face campaigns from brands like Body Form but no one has moved the needle quite like Thinx which, in its newest ad which re-imagines the world of periods for both men and women.
I think what makes this ad so brilliant is that it seems so obvious; women have been wishing female-only body experiences on men for years. However, what this ad does correctly is, instead of painting men in a frail light, unable to deal with cramps, bloating and mood swings, it shows how their days still require them to be fully functioning & capable of getting shi*t done, even if they find that they are occasionally in need of a tampon- a reality that many successful women find themselves in on a daily basis.
TRAVEL ADVENTURE TABOOS
China Airlines- What Travel Brings You
Travel ads often focus on showing the viewer the best parts of the places they may be venturing to, or they highlight the wonderful experience consumers may have when choosing to travel with a specific brand. This China Airlines ad did none of that which is what makes it stand out, along with a few other frank-reality core truths.
The ad instead focuses on what happens after the trips we take, when we are finally home and stuck with the reality of our potentially risky decisions while on vacation. From experiencing extreme buyer’s remorse to trying to erase spontaneous marriages in another country, China Airlines wonderfully documents how the journey back home can sometimes be a very sobering one.
Lynx Xbox - Lift Your Game
Okay, hear me out. Am I a budding teenage boy who is really into video games? No. Not at all. But I that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the creativity of an ad meant to appeal to one.
Lynx, also known as AXE in the US, has been at the forefront of the shifting narrative around vulnerability for boys and men for the past few years. This movement has been more progressive across the pond than in America because we seem to still be coming to terms with the inevitable reality that men can still be men in non-destructive, & non-toxic ways.
In this ad, we get to relive our youth and the familiar plot twists of our favorite 80s rom com movies- a boy who wants to get the girl but who must stand up to a formidable bully to do so (yay nostalgia!). Not only do we get to see if our favorite protagonist is successful in his mission (with the help of Lynx body spray of course) but we get to watch it all go down through a lens of gamification (have I won you over yet?). This ad is clever, and fun and chooses not to lean into the antiquated tropes of the lead character turning into an irresistible womanizer with the help of a cheap smelling body spray. Instead, the product acts as an empowering tool to help him break the ice with the girl of his dreams who is able to set her own standards and expectations. It’s ultimately up to him to figure out how he will be able to step up to the plate. Is he successful in the end? Watch and see!