January is a time for resolutions—and

January is a time for resolutions—and breaking them. If this month’s Best Spots selections are a sign, it looks like some advertisers were finally able to break their own habits.

Most notable is McDonald’s. Someone finally embraced the disturbing nature of the fast food chain’s 43-year-old mascot, Ronald McDonald. I never was too fond of clowns (bad early circus experience) and they still sort of scare me. So I’d much rather see an inanimate Ronald sitting stone-still on a bench than jumping around, spreading his discomforting joy to children of all ages. Perhaps Ronnie is learning from the King that you have to keep an air of mystery about you to earn some respect. And he does just that in a fresh campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day. In this series, Ronald doesn’t move, doesn’t talk and, thankfully—even though ’tis the season—doesn’t participate in any Olympics-style sporting events. (I’m still trying to wipe out those visuals from my memory!)

Instead, the characters who join him on the bench tell his story by telling their own. Surprisingly, only one follows McDonald’s accustomed sentimental style—a young boy sits next to the clown on a cold, snowy day and offers up his scarf. But my favorites take the character to an odder reality (where he probably belongs). In one, a man in a hamster costume has a heart-to-heart with him, and in another, a Sasquatch sits next to him in the middle of the woods (who keeps moving the bench, I wonder?) and carries on a conversation in guttural language. In our Best Spots selection, a Ronald look-alike takes the pose.

A new direction was taken by another TBWA\C\D client, Absolut, which after 25 years veered away from the bottle-centric advertising that made it famous to “salute the icons.” In this spot built on archival footage, we see “the Absolute Rock Club,” CBGB and “The Absolute Man,” the late movie star Steve McQueen. I’m not usually a fan of anthemic spots, but it’s nice to see Absolut take bold ownership of its iconic status. And the music, a remix of “Hey Mrs.” by I Monster, does appropriate justice to the visuals.

As with the beginning of any reassessment, there is no reason to make change for the sake of change. And a few campaigns are still going strong with formulas that have long worked for them. MasterCard’s “Marathon” shows there are still legs left to the nearly nine-year-old “Priceless” campaign. And Jack in the Box’s mascot as corporate CEO takes us into his noir-inspired superhero dream, where he saves a damsel in distress using his suped-up Jack hat. Secret Weapon still manages to have fun with this promotion-driven advertising, even after more than a decade.

And finally, there’s Nike. For all those who made the resolution to exercise more this year, Nike urges “Just do it” with a cinematic spot about athletes starting their days with their sport of choice. Alarm clocks beep and buzz as daylight breaks, and the spot kicks into AC/DC’s “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” It’s classic Nike, but it still snares you. And it rocks. It almost makes me want to get up at dawn to run. Almost.