The 10 Best Commercials of 2012

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

Nike, "Jogger"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Director: Lance Acord, Park Pictures

Leave it to Nike, which wasn't an official Olympic sponsor, to ambush this year's Games with the best spot of them all. Searching other places named London far from the Olympic Village for stories of everyday athletic struggle, Wieden + Kennedy found a great one in London, Ohio. Meet Nathan Sorrell, a 200-pound 12-year-old who would become the summer's most unlikely ad star. On an empty country road at dawn, he jogs slowly and painfully toward the gradually receding camera. "Greatness is just something we made up," says the voiceover by Tom Hardy. "Somehow we've come to believe greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few. For prodigies. For superstars. And the rest of us can only stand by watching. You can forget that. Greatness is not some rare DNA strand. Not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We're all capable of it. All of us." It's classic Nike—audacious and visually simple yet magnificent, with a populist message boiled down to a few short lines. Manipulative? Sure. Exploitative? Perhaps. Yet it distilled a brand's ethos like no other ad this year, in a way that got everybody talking, without spending millions on a sponsorship. Once again, Nike found greatness on its own terms—in sport and in advertising.

Full credits here.

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