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Our Favorite Ads of 2017 (so far…)

We may be halfway through with 2017 (take a moment to let that fact settle in), but already there are ad campaigns that make a strong contender for best of the year. Plenty can happen between now and December 31st, sure, but we have a suspicion that these ads are still going to be in the conversation not just for this year, but going into 2018 as well.

Pantene Gold Series

The ad for Pantene’s Gold Series reinforces the proof that it pays off to treat your work with not just a great script (which this ad has from start to finish), but quality directing and cinematography as well. Their latest outing focuses on African-American women, promoting confidence and pride in your hair.

There’s been a norm set as to what not only beautiful hair looks like, but the qualities of a woman’s hair that popular products address. This standard offered little for African-American women, whose hair simply grows differently with strengths and weaknesses all its own. With this ad, Pantene is showing that they’re tired of this as well. With their new Gold Series, they show an awareness and active move to improve upon an aspect of haircare that’s been lacking. Women should not feel self-conscious if their hair does not match the popularized norm.

Beauty is how we choose to wear it, the narrator says. “Our history makes us stronger, and strong is beautiful.”

 

GE “What if Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like a Celebrity?”

With this ad, GE is attempting to reinforce the importance of those who truly do great work in the world. Rather than furthering the totemic rise of entertainment personalities and celebrities, they’re taking steps to give such idolatry to the people in positions that implement literal world-changing innovations.

Most children often fantasize about being a famous movie star or musician (both of which are perfectly acceptable goals, of course) as their role models. This ad doesn’t seek to undermine those dreams, but to supplement it. To present more options alongside them that are given the same level of importance and societal acceptance and popularity.

 

New York Times “The Truth is Hard”

This ad plays especially well with the theme of truth and ‘fake news’ all but defining 2017 so far. The words ‘The truth is…’ remain static, black font over a white backdrop. What follows is a series of statements and ideas from all ends of the spectrum, highlighting multiple viewpoints. In the background, you can hear people all speaking at once, each attempting to be heard over the other. This signifies the amount of voices that exist amongst the host of different physical and digital media outlets available to you. When each are delivering their own spin on a story it can be difficult to figure out which ones are telling the unaltered truth.

Such outlets need to be trusted by their audience to find success. This ad is one of the better-done attempts at both restoring what may have been lost once the dust settled, or maintaining those who never wavered. The truth will forever be something worth fighting for.

“The truth is hard to find.”

“Hard to know.”

“The truth is more important now than ever.”

 

Audible’s #AudibleVoices

While not the widest reaching ad of the bunch, Audible’s response to the politically charged marketing space of 2017 is worthy of some extra attention. Celebrities such as Zachary Quinto, Claire Danes, and Alan Cumming were tasked with reading excerpts from Orwell’s 1984, Les Miserables, and The Lord of the Rings respectively.

No current events are brought up. Just the words written by masters of their craft.

 

Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext

For this campaign, Microsoft issues a challenge to women to consider entering into and completing a STEM degree. They recognize the imbalance when it comes to the very male-dominated industry, and seek to do something about it. People look to those like themselves when choosing role models. By reinforcing this fact, it reminds women that they have the chance to inspire an entirely new wave of little girls who may have otherwise ignored the STEM field.

This particular ad showcases young girls listing the world’s problems that they’d like to solve, and then says, “Odds are, you won’t be able to solve these problems.” Those odds are 6.7% of women will graduate with a STEM degree.

Change the odds. Change your odds.

 

Heineken

With it feeling as though the whole world is drawing lines and fighting with each other over every topic, Heineken chose to approach things differently. Rather than pick a side and craft a message that revolves around it, their message came from a place of diplomacy. That alone would make any ad stand out.

The charm of this being from Heineken, however, is that they’re able to use their product in a way that fits the issue almost perfectly. Should both sides continue to fight each other at each pass, it’d degrade until hostility was all that remained. Here’s a reminder that there’s a different path.

You think one way, I think another. Let’s sit down, have a beer, and hear each other out. Maybe we’ll both learn something that sitting firmly on one side of the imaginary line would never have provided. Civil discourse isn’t dead. It just needs a little kick start to get moving again.

 

So far, 2017 has seen a large shift towards politically charged ads. It’s a smart move in one sense, seeing the major trend of the times and choosing to make their stand. But to do so well means taking a risk. There’s little doubt that such risks will continue to be taken as the year goes on. The question becomes whether or not the quality will live up to the example set by these brands. To that, we can only hope.