The 10 Best Ads of 2013

It was a year for thinking big, and spreading the wealth. Advertisers continued to move well beyond the 30-, 60- and even 90-second spot in 2013, as two of our top 10 ads this year, including No. 1, stretch beyond three minutes. That's an eternity in Internet time, yet they were watched, loved and shared worldwide.

Six other ads are at least a minute long, leaving just two lonely spots—both of them comedies—holding down the fort for the traditional :30.

The collection offers a mix of themes and styles, as well as agencies. Ten different shops did this year's 10 ads—unlike last year, when Wieden + Kennedy and BBH did five between them. The ads feature stunts, social experiments, heartwarming moments, juvenile jokes and more. And while it's been called the year of the prank, none of those "gotcha" spots broke into our top 10, though a few came close.

Congratulations to all the agencies and clients for their intriguing concepts and impressive craft, and for making advertising people love—and want to share.


Kmart “Ship My Pants”

Agency: Draftfcb, Chicago
Director: Zach Math, Bob Industries

Sure, it's not the most sophisticated ad ever made. But it was among the year's funniest—and most surprising. No one would have pegged Kmart as a brand to green-light 30 seconds of people seeming to declare that they'd just soiled themselves. But that's where Draftfcb went with almost-obscene spot touting free shipping on items at that shoppers can't find in the physical store. An immediate viral sensation—it has topped 20 million YouTube views—it kicked off a year of provocative work for the retailer. (A sequel, "Big Gas Savings," was popular too.) It had its share of detractors, but in the end, "Ship My Pants" was a lovable class clown and the year's guiltiest pleasure.

Client: Kmart
Vice President, Marketing Planning: Andrew Stein
Vice President, Creative: Mark Andeer
Vice President, Chief Digital Marketing Officer: Bill Kiss

Agency: Draftfcb, Chicago
Chief Creative Officer: Todd Tilford
Executive Vice President, Executive Creative Director: Jon Flannery
Senior Vice President, Creative Director: Howie Ronay
Vice President, Creative Director, Copywriter: Sean Burns
Agency Producer: Chris Bing

Production Company: Bob Industries
Executive Producers: T.K. Knowles, John O'Grady, Chuck Ryant
Producer: Brian Etting
Director: Zach Math


Chipotle “The Scarecrow”

Agency: CAA Marketing, Los Angeles
Animation: Moonbot Studios

Celebrity cover of a famous song + gorgeous animation + potent environmental message = brilliant short film about the evils of industrial food production. It's a formula Chipotle and CAA used in 2011's "Back to the Start" spot, and reprised this year with Fiona Apple and Moonbot Studios. Apple hauntingly sings "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka over scenes of dystopian fantasy, as a scarecrow escapes from a terrifying job at Crow Foods and returns to handmade food production on the farm. The Oscar winners at Moonbot bring scale and grandeur to the visuals—it's like a mini-feature—and Apple's soundtrack is flat-out stunning. A gaming app gave you coupons for defeating the crows, and you could also buy the song on iTunes. Delightfully dark, powerful yet playful, this long-form morality tale was the year's best branded-entertainment campaign.

Client: Chipotle
Agency: CAA Marketing
Animation: Moonbot Studios
Music: Fiona Apple
Music Supervision: duotone audio group


Robinsons “Pals”

Agency: BBH, London
Directors: Si & Ad, Academy Films

Amid the hundreds of big-budget soda commercials out there, leave it to a humble British juice brand to beat them all. Two boys spend a day playing together—throwing rocks in a river, cavorting at a playground, playing lightsabers with sticks. Returning home, they pour glasses of Robinsons juice and soak up some telly. Then, at the end of the day, there's a wonderful twist ending—as one boy falls asleep, the other carries him up to bed, and it turns out he's actually the boy's father. "It's good to be a dad. It's better to be a friend," says the on-screen copy. Even after you know the ending, the spot is still wonderfully watchable, as clues scattered throughout hint at the father-son relationship. In a year of heartwarming family stories, this was the most delightful.

Client: Robinsons
Agency: BBH, London

BBH Creative Team: Matt Moreland, Chris Clarke, Sarah Hardcastle, Elliot Shiels
BBH Creative Directors: Hamish Pinnell, Justin Moore
BBH Producer: Glenn Paton
BBH Strategic Business Leads: John Harrison, Becky Russell
BBH Strategist: Lilli English
BBH Team Director: Alex Monger

Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Si & Ad
Executive Producer: Lizie Gower
Producer: Dom Thomas
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
Postproduction: The Mill
Editor, Editing House: Joe Guest @ Final Cut
Sound: Nick Angell


Volvo Trucks “The Epic Split feat. Van Damme”

Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors, Sweden
Director: Andreas Nilsson, Folke Film

The year's most adrenaline-fueled ads, oddly enough, came from a B2B long-haul trucking campaign. Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors upended the category with its hair-raising test stunts for Volvo Trucks, ranging from a woman slacklining between two speeding 18-wheelers to a man fleeing a herd of bulls in a Volvo FL. The crowning achievement, though, was Jean-Claude Van Damme doing "the most epic of splits" between two slowly reversing Volvo Globetrotters, showing the precision of the vehicle's dynamic steering. Exquisitely shot by Andreas Nilsson, with strangely poetic narration by Van Damme over the echoing, ethereal swells of Enya's "Only Time," it's a mesmerizing minute of film—odd, audacious, hypnotic, and in the end, epic indeed. And with 60 million YouTube views in less than a month, it has the world under its spell.

Client: Volvo Trucks
Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg, Sweden
Agency Producer: Alexander Blidner
Director: Andreas Nilsson, Folke Film


Nike “Possibilities”

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig, MJZ

Nike's world-beating tagline "Just do it" turned 25 this year. And W+K doubled down on it with the "Possibilities" campaign, marrying the brand message to the growing ecosystem of Nike+ users like never before. The problem with "Just do it" lately is that it's only part of the story. As Nike+ has shifted the brand's role from inspiration to inspiration plus enablement, the marketing has to shift, too. "Possibilities" did that with digital and social activations that put users through a series of Nike+ challenges—along with a smart, freewheeling spot, narrated by Bradley Cooper, that raised the stakes for the "Just do it" line. Just do it even more, it suggests, playfully using celebrity athletes (LeBron James, Serena Williams, Gerard Pique) as foils for the real hero—you and your Nike+. For agency and client, it was a joyful reinvention and a great start to the next 25 years.

Client: Nike
Spot: "Possibilities"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Global Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Agency Executive Producer: Matt Hunnicutt
Copywriter: Edward Harrison
Art Director: Sezay Altinok
Agency Producer: Anna Smith
Agency Associate Producer: Kirsten Acheson
Account Supervisor: Vanessa Miller
Account Director: Karrelle Dixon
Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz
Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples, Susan Hoffman
Business Affairs Manager: Amber Lavender

Production Company: MJZ
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
Producer: Suza Horvat
Director of Photography: Greig Fraser
First Assistant Directorts: Cliff Lanning, John Lowe, Todd Thompson
Production Designers: Jeremy Hindle, Peter Andrus
Wardrobe Stylists: Keith Wager, Charlotte Chadwick
Location Manager: Dave Doumeng
Production Supervisor: Evan Wilson
Sports Coordinators: Mike Fisher, Darren Tyson White
Spain Production Company: Widescope Productions
Service Executive Producer: Iñaki Villarias
Service Line Producer: Karim El Masri

Editing Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Angus Wall
Post Producer: Toby Louie
Post Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
Assistant Editor: Austyn Daines

Visual Effects Company: A52
Visual Effects Executive Producers: Megan Meloth, Jennifer Sofio Hall
Visual Effects Producer: Scott Boyajan
Visual Effects Supervisor: Andy McKenna
Computer Graphics Supervisor: Kirk Shintani
Massive Pipeline Technical Director: Chris Janney
Color, Lighting Lead: Ian Ruhfass
Flame Artists: Andy Barrios, Hugh Seville, Paul Heagney, Steve Wolff, Cameron Coombs, David Parker
Computer Graphics Artists: Adam Carter, Caleb Hecht, Tom Connors, Tim Donlevy, Vivian Su, Joe Chiechi, Wendy Pham, Cody Woodard, Joe Panliagua, Michael Lori, Adam Newman, Andrew Romatz, Shelby Strong

Music: "Future Starts Slow" by The Kills
Sound Design: Barking Owl

Mix Company: Lime Studios
Mixers: Rohan Young, Loren Silber
Producer: Jessica Locke
Voiceover: Bradley Cooper


Dick’s Sporting Goods “Every Pitch”

Agency: Anomaly, New York
Director: Derek Cianfrance,

Sports advertising worships the rarefied, the transcendent, the superhuman. Not this spot. A masterpiece of craft, it is proudly and profoundly realistic—showing baseball as it's played, not as it's perfected. Shot in an eerie fog, it put the viewer right in the action thanks to a single, complex camera move. You can almost smell the grass on the infield as the camera whirls, pans and zooms, picking out the players—all real minor-leaguers—one by one as they coax and cajole one another with timeless baseball chatter. As Rangers prospect Cody Buckel leans back and unleashes a fastball, the spot smashes to black—a cliffhanger ending to 60 seconds of cinematic drama. Steeped in nostalgia, magical yet modern (for a brand that needed it), it was a tribute worthy of the national pastime it depicted.

Client: Dick's Sporting Goods
Spot: "Every Pitch"

Agency: Anomaly
CCO: Mike Byrne
Creative Director: Seth Jacobs
Creatives: Taylor Twist, Mike Warzin
Brand Director: Damien Reid
Head of Broadcast Production: Andrew Loevenguth
Producer: Chris Noble

Production Company:
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Director of Photography: Peter Deming
Executive Producers: Donna Portaro, Frank Scherma
Executive Producer / Line Producer: Tommy Turtle
Production Designer: Gill Gayle

VFX Studio: A52
VFX Supervisor / Flame Artist: Andy McKenna
CG Supervisor: Kirk Shintani
2D VFX Artist(s): Andy McKenna, David Parker
3D Artists: Joe Chiechi
PreViz Artist: Matt Neapolitan
Producer: Scott Boyajan
Executive Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall, Megan Meloth

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Biff Butler
Assistant Editor: Dan DeWinter
Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Melanie Gagliano

Color Correction Facility: CO3 NY
Colorist: Tom Poole

Music: MAS - Music and Strategy
Executive Producer: James Alvich
Producer: Alex Derhohannesian
Music Composers: Eric Hachikien and John Jennings Boyd
Sound Design: Brian Emrich
Mix Studio: Sound Lounge
Mixer: Rob Sayers


Geico “Hump Day”

Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
Director: Wayne McClammy, Hungry Man

"Uh-oh! Guess what day it is!" Advertising's animal of the year wasn't a dog, cat, pony, goat or hamster. It was Caleb the camel, the effusive ungulate who roams an office for Geico, gleefully badgering co-workers about the day of the week. Never has a motormouthed mammal been so endearing—in 30-second doses, anyway. So, what day is it? "It's hump day," a colleague finally admits. "Woo-woooo!" Caleb cries. (Folks who switch to Geico are "happier than a camel on Wednesday," the brand's folksy musical spokesmen explain at the end.) With great CGI and fantastic voiceover work, the spot wasn't just a high point in the "Happier Than" campaign. It became Geico's most viral ad ever—the second most shared spot in the world this year after Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches." Not bad for an ad character's debut. Your move, gecko.

Client: Geico

Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Alexander
Group Creative Director: Steve Bassett
Creative Director: Wade Alger
Creative Director, Art Director: Sean Riley
Senior Copywriter: Ken Marcus
Executive Broadcast Producer: Molly Souter
Producer: Samantha Tucker
Junior Producer: Emily Taylor
Strategic Planner: Melissa Cabral
Group Account Director: Chris Mumford
Account Director: Liz Toms
Account Supervisor Parker Collins
Account Coordinator: Carter Crenshaw
Project Manager: Susan Karns

Group Talent Director: Suzanne Wieringo
Production Business Manager: Amy Trenz

Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Wayne McClammy
Director of Photography: Tim Ives
Executive Producer, Managing Partner: Kevin Byrne
Producer: Nate Young
Production Supervisor: Steve Ruggieri

Editorial Company: Mackenzie Cutler
Editor: Ian MacKenzie
Editor: Dave Koza
Assistant Editor: Carmen Hu
Editorial Producer: Evan Meeker
Director of Operations: Biz Lunskey

Visual Effects: The Mill
Executive Producer: Jo Arghiris
Producer: Colin Blaney
Shoot Supervisor: Tony Robins
2-D Lead Artist: Randy McEntee
2-D Artists: Tony Robins, Paul Downes, Jamin Clutcher
Art Support: Rob Meade
3-D Lead Artist: Kevin Ives
3-D Artists: Billy Dangyoon Jang, Olivier Varteressian, Laurent Giaume, Justin Diamond, Sean Dooley, Joshua Merck, Hassan Taimur, Wyatt Savarese, Samuel Crees, Ross Scroble

Audio Post, Sound Design: Rainmaker Studios
Engineer: Jeff McManus
Music: "Happier Than" theme song by Adam Schlesinger

Principal Actors in Spot:
"Ronny" - Alex Harvey
"Jimmy" - Timothy Cole
Musical Duo in all spots

"Hump Day"
"Mike" - Michael Clark
"Julie" - Lindsay Stoddart
"Leslie" - Leslie Tsina
"Camel VO" - Chris Sulivan
Voiceover announcer: Andrew Anthony


Guinness “Basketball”

Agency: BBDO, New York
Director: Noam Murro, Biscuit Filmworks

Male friendship is a well-worn theme in beer ads. But with its brutal game of wheelchair basketball, Guinness delivered a fresh take that's both tough and touching—rare and precious territory for any ad. It's tempting to say the amazing twist ending is what makes the spot, and it is a magical moment. (Spoiler: Only one of the guys is wheelchair-bound off the court.) But the ad is so much more than that. The cinematography is dazzling and gritty. The soundtrack, by The Cinematic Orchestra, is soaring and emotional. And the voiceover copy is perfectly minimal: "Dedication. Loyalty. Friendship. The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character." Likewise, the choices that went into the spot reveal the brand's character, powerfully paying off the tagline: "Made of more."

Client: Guinness
Agency: BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
Executive Creative Director: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Mike Smith
Executive Creative Director: Will Boudreau
Senior Creative Director/Art Director: Dan Lucey
Senior Creative Director/Copywriter: Chris Beresford-Hill
Senior Creative Director/Copywriter: Tom Kraemer
Director of Integrated Production: David Rolfe
Executive Producer: Kevin Wilson
Senior Content Producer: Tricia Lentini
Executive Music Producer: Loren Parkins
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
Executive Producer: Colleen O'Donnell
Line Producer: Emily Skinner
Edit House: Work Editorial Inc
Editor: Neil Smith
Assistant Editor: Adam Witten
Sound Design: Brian Emrich
Sound Mixer: Tom Jucarone
DOP: Simon Duggan
Color: CO3
VFX: Absolute Post


RAM “Farmer”

Agency: The Richards Group, Dallas

Super Bowl ads are supposed to be about animals and babies and celebrities. But for the second straight year, a Chrysler brand stopped the party in its tracks, in a good way, with a two-minute meditation on something bigger. Like 2012's Clint Eastwood ad, this year's RAM "Farmer" spot was everything Super Bowl ads aren't—quiet, artful and thought provoking. The still photos of farmers, commissioned from 10 world-class photographers, are beautiful and arresting. (A new coffee-table book collects 240 of them.) And the audio of Paul Harvey's poetic "God Made a Farmer" speech lends epic weight and grandeur, crossing generations as the ad crosses the nation's endless fields and prairies. It was, by far, the game's best ad—a moving tribute to American farmers by an American brand eager to share in their values of dignity, fellowship and sacrifice through hard work.

Client: RAM
Agency: The Richards Agency, Dallas
Creative Group Head/Copywriter: Rob Baker
Creative Group Head/Art Director: Jimmy Bonner
Producer: Paul Nelson
Art Buyer/Producer: Deb Grisham
Photography: William Allard, Andy Anderson, Jim Arndt, Daniel Beltra, Mark Gooch, Andy Mahr, Kurt Markus, David Spielman, Matt Turley, Olaf Veltman
Editor: Brent Herrington, 3008
Sound Engineer: Matt Cimino


Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Brazil
Director: John X. Carey, Paranoid US

Only 4 percent of women worldwide think they're beautiful, Dove says. The brief for this project, then, was simple: Make women feel better about themselves. Ogilvy Brazil did so in startling fashion, producing the most intriguing social experiment and most viral ad campaign of the year. The agency hired FBI forensic artist Gil Zamora to sketch women (sight unseen) as they described themselves, and then as others described them. The differences in the final sketches are stark, and in a way sad, but also uplifting. "You are more beautiful than you think," said the end line—as simple and perfect a brand statement as there could be. The three minutes of footage from the shoot (edited by Paul Kumpata, following an earlier seven-minute version, edited by Philip Owens) would become advertising's high point this year—a clever and poignant exploration of self-esteem that was as beautiful as the subjects it studied.

Client: Dove
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Brazil
Creative Director: Anselmo Ramos
Copywriter: Hugo Veiga
Art Director: Diego Machado
Agency Producer: Veronica Beach
Production Company: Paranoid US
Director: John X Carey
Director of Photography: Ed David
Producer: Stan Sawicki
Executive producer: Jamie Miller
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Paul Kumpata
Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
Colorist: Sean Coleman, Company 3
Sound Mix: Subtractive
Original music: Keith Kenniff, Unseen Music

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