The 10 Best Commercials of 2012

The year's most entertaining, intriguing, powerful and beautiful spots

Red Bull, "Red Bull Stratos"

Partners: Riedel Communications,
FlightLine Films

It takes a special kind of nerve to plan a stunt that could cause a human being to explode 24 miles above the Earth as millions watched live. Red Bull took that risk with Stratos, a months-long project that culminated on Oct. 14 with Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner leaping safely from the edge of space to the New Mexican desert below. In doing so, the energy drink rewrote the rules of content marketing, sponsorships and PR. With the heavens as a singular backdrop, the stunt tapped into a basic craving to test the limits of human potential. As Baumgartner made the longest and fastest free fall ever, Red Bull set its own record—with 8 million people watching live on YouTube. Though not a traditional commercial, the 90-second mission-highlights video is a stunning piece of film with several iconic images, including the leap from the capsule. "I'm coming home now," Baumgartner says before plunging into the void, landing eight minutes later, then dropping to his knees in triumph. With more than 30 million views, the montage may lack the craft of our other top 10 ads, but it powers into our list by sheer force of will—Baumgartner's and Red Bull's.

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