The Ads That Make Agencies Jealous; Lessons From Hallmark’s Flip Flop: Friday’s First Things First

Plus, the significance of Pantone's boring color of the year

Better Call Saul was one of the best shows of the 2010s, but did not air an episode in 2019. AMC
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s new daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.
27 Campaigns That Made Other Agencies Green With Envy in 2019
There was a lot of incredible work by brands this year. So as we did last year, Adweek asked agencies to weigh in on which genius campaigns they wish they’d thought of first. At the top of the list, of course, was Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin and its light-speed clap back to the infamous Peloton ad. But a lot of other ads also turned competitors green in the face, like Nike’s Dream Crazier spot, narrated by Serena Williams, the dark humor of Halo Top’s Ice Cream for Adults campaign and the brutal realities of reporting on ISIS communicated through The New York Times’ “The Truth Is Worth It” spots. Agencies also gave shout outs to DTC shaving brand Billie’s ad that was kicked off Facebook for showing body hair, the Super Bowl spot in which a Game of Thrones dragon incinerated the Bud Knight and Diesel’s Be a Follower campaign that poked fun at influencers.
Read more: Also, Spotify’s end of year OOH and a tribute to singing in the car.
Breaking Down the Significance Behind Pantone’s Color of the Year
When Pantone announced its 2020 color of the year earlier this month, a lot of folks responded with a question mark. Classic blue? Isn’t that kind of boring for a year that’s certain to be pretty dang wild? But that’s exactly why it was chosen, explains Lippincott’s Brendán Murphy in an opinion piece. He points to brands like Ford, IBM, Blue Cross Blue Shield and AT&T who use the color to signal “institutional trust and safe, measured progress”—something that a lot of the world is pining for in the midst of widespread sociopolitical uncertainty.
Read more: Blue’s also the world’s favorite color, Murphy writes, and suggests a calming stability.
10 Popular TV Shows That Didn’t Air New Episodes in 2019
There are several shows that you may have missed during the year this year—a whole lot of fan favorites didn’t release a single new episode. Which means they can’t make the end of year “best of” lists this time around, by default. So if you were wondering why you didn’t see Atlanta ranked on 10 Best TV Shows of 2019, it’s nothing against your favorite show—it’s just that it was MIA all year. Which, to be honest, is understandable. What a year, amirite? Away from the glossy eyes of viewers of the world this year, in addition to Atlanta, were shows like American Crime Story, Better Call Saul, Insecure and Westworld.
Read more: Homecoming and the Haunting of Hill House were also absent.
Lessons From Hallmark Channel’s Flip-Flopping on Running the Same-Sex Zola Ad
Looking back on the social media storm around Zola’s ad on Hallmark now that the dust has settled, there are some takeaways, according to Brock University marketing professor Joachim Scholz, who wrote about the ad in an opinion piece for Adweek. The spot featured a lesbian couple who, apparently did not use Zola to plan their wedding (though it looks lovely). And while the vows they exchange have little to do with the ceremony itself, they commit to the truth that it all would’ve been easier had they just used Zola. But all that aside, the fact that they were a same-sex couple was enough to elicit backlash from a conservative group, so Hallmark pulled the ad before hastily agreeing to reinstate it in response to even more backlash. By that point, the network had made everybody mad.

Hallmark’s initial response may have worked in an earlier media landscape, writes Scholz. But flip-flopping like it did not only looks really bad on social media, but it ends in a missed opportunity for brand building. Much better to establish your values ahead of time and stick to your guns when the going gets rough.
Read more: Hallmark was trapped in the middle of a cultural tug of war.
Best of the Rest: Today’s Top News and Insights

Ad of the Day: In New Nike Ad, LeBron James Reflects on Legacy Beyond the Basketball Court

We’re often told stories about athletes that highlight how far they’ve come—framing the stories in a familiar, American Dream-style, rags-to-riches narrative. But why stop there? In this latest Nike ad, LeBron James questions why we keep letting the conditions that create “humble beginnings” continue to exist.
Agencies Reveal How to Celebrate the Holidays in a Unique Way
Yvonne Chavez, marketing director, Mering
What are some interesting and unique things your company does to celebrate the holidays?
Recovery during the holidays is important at Mering. The day after our holiday party, we hold a (mandatory) ugly sweater themed brunch from 9:00-11:00 a.m., and then we have the rest of the day off to recover.
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@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.