There’s certainly no shortage of stellar storytelling and wry humor in today’s advertising world, but few have time to sift through the internet sludge each day to find those nuggets of quality.
Luckily, the Epica Awards, selected by a jury of international advertising journalists (including myself), offers a nice chance near the end of each year to recognize ads that you might have overlooked when they debuted in their home markets.
You can check out all of this year’s winners here, but we’ve collected a few of the funniest spots below, representing work from 11 nations.
Norwegian Air – Just Like the Movies
Epica Award: Gold, Transport & Tourism
Is visiting the United States all that Hollywood makes it out to be? One airline goes behind the scenes to find out.
Friends of Canadian Films – Spaceship at the Border
Epica Award: Gold, Media
Aliens at the border take on a new meaning in this oddly wonderful spot in support of Canadian films.
Shizuoka Shimbun and Shizuoka Broadcasting System – The Mass-Media Brothers
Agency: Dentsu (with production by Spoon Inc.)
Epica Award: Gold, Corporate Image
It’s not easy attracting young people when you’re the aging news media. But can it be done?
Lax-a-Day – Long Time No See
Epica Award: Gold, Prescription & OTC Products
Time flies when you’re having … fun?
McDonald’s McCafe – Madness
Agency: Leo Burnett London
Epica Award: Gold, Non-Alcoholic Drinks
It’s hard to side with a global chain like McDonald’s over your local coffee shop, but this spot still does a great job poking fun at the eccentricities of today’s pricey and pretentious options.
Snickers – Recovery Room
Agency: BBDO New York
Epica Award: Gold, Confectionery & Snacks
Having to take a personal call during work can be awkward, but rarely this awkward.
EKO-COM – Where They Belong
Country: Czech Republic
Agency: Havas Prague
Epica Award: Gold and silver, Public Interest: Environment
This campaign reminds us in a truly memorable way that some things (and people) just work better where they belong.
The National Lottery – Let’s Be Blunt: Please Not Them
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Epica Award: Gold, Recreation & Leisure
This one’s actually from mid-2016, putting it on the outer edge of the Epica Awards’ entry range, but it’s definitely worth watching (and then giving the applaudably self-mocking James Blunt a follow on Twitter).
Airtel – Lost
Agency: Noah’s Ark Communications
Epica Award: Gold, Communication & Public Services
Actor and singer Gabriel Afolayan’s physical comedy is set to an addictive track by Nigerian singer Asa in this charming, long-form spot about feeling stranded.
Elmsta 3000 Horror Fest – Outpost Mars
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi / Camp David
Epica Award: Bronze, Recreation & Leisure
If like scary, and you like short, this is the film festival (and ad campaign) for you.
Farnham Ale & Lager – A Bit Bitter
Epica Award: Silver, Alcoholic Drinks
We might not be able to harness the power of bitterness, but perhaps we can tap into it a bit.
FedEx – Passive Aggressive
Agency: BBDO New York
Epica Award: Silver, Professional Products & Services
This one might hit a bit close to home for many in the corporate world.
Finn.no – Wingsuit
Agency: Morgenstern Oslo
Epica Award: Silver, Retail Services
This ongoing campaign reminds us that even the most ill-conceived purchases can sometimes be redeemed.
Ikea – Allen Key
Agency: McCann Spain
Epica Award: Gold, Homes, Furnishings & Appliances
Ikea ads usually highlight rooms made entirely of the store’s minimalist products. This one goes in a very different direction.
Volkswagen – Alien
Epica Award: Gold, Vehicles, Automotive Services & Accessories
It’s easy to advertise the handy benefits of a new car feature. But not many advertisers would also show how that feature could become a liability.
Coca-Cola – The Lineup Song
Agency: FP7/CAI Cairo
Epica Award: Gold, Humour in Advertising
Egypt’s national soccer team was absent from the competitive scene during six years of political and civil turmoil, so Coca-Cola helped create this infectious tune and video to bring fans up to speed on the country’s newly revived team.
Verena Sure – Capture
Agency: McCann Worldgroup Bangkok
Epica Awards: Gold, Prescription & OTC Products; Silver, Humour in Advertising
This unpredictable spot was an underdog favorite at the Cannes Lions, thanks to its surreal mix of meta and metaphor.