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The 18 Best Advertisements & Ad Campaigns of All Time

Expert Tips For The 18 Best Advertisements & Ad Campaigns of All Time

While it can often feel like many of the adverts you see in the modern world are cut from the same cloth, there is an art to creating an ad campaign that people remember. Many of today’s ads borrow elements from the best campaigns that have been seen throughout history, using the foundations that other companies have set.

For those that have seen shows like HBO’s Mad Men, though, you will know just how much has gone into creating some of the world’s best advertisements. Join us as we explore some of the most outstanding ad campaigns of all time.

1. Budweiser, “Wassup?!”

Let’s start with a fun one. Budweiser struck gold with their 1999 “Wassup?!” campaign, featuring a series of videos of friends on a group phone call having fun and repeatedly exclaiming “Wassup?!” in silly voices to one another. This made the beer look fun and lighthearted while also painting a picture of kinship amongst its drinkers.

2. Nike, “Just Do It.”

Nike has always invested a lot into advertising, but their “Just Do It” slogan has been on just about every one of their ads since the late 80s. This ad campaign is designed to convey a no-nonsense approach to pushing people to achieve their fitness goals. Can’t be bothered to exercise today? Just do it. Nikes got your back.

3. Coca-Cola, “Share A Coke.”

From changing the color of Santa’s outfit to poking fun at rival companies like Pepsi, Coca-Cola has long dominated the field of marketing. In 2011, Coca-Cola began adding individual names to their bottles for their “Share A Coke” campaign. People love a personal touch, and buying a bottle with your name on it is a genius way to achieve this.

4. Apple, “There’s An App For That.”

It’s tough to say which of Apple’s ad campaigns is the best; there have been so many great ones. The “There’s An App For That” campaign kicked off in 2009 as a way to show off the versatility of the latest iPhone devices. Campaigns like this have paid off for Apple, with iPhones being one of the most popular mobile devices on the market.

5. De Beers, “A Diamond Is Forever.”

Diamonds didn’t use to be that popular, but now most people would associate this rock with wedding and engagement rings, as well as luxury jewelry. In 1947, De Beers launched their “A Diamond Is Forever” campaign, targeting young men who wanted to show their status and give something extra special to the important woman in their life.

6. Cadbury, “Gorilla Drummer Drums.”

Advertising a product like chocolate can be a challenge without relying on the sultry imagery usually found in perfume ads. Just about everyone remembers the famous “Gorilla Drummer Drums” adverts from back in 2009, in which a gorilla drums along to Phil Colins’ “In The Air Tonight.” This ad was for their Dairy Milk brand and was voted the UK’s favorite advert.

7. Old Spice, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”

Most companies will target the people who will be using their product when they make an advert. Old Spice took a different approach with their “The Man, Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, though, targeting ladies who wanted their partner to smell as good as possible. The tagline is one thing, but the video cuts in these adverts make them stand out.

8. Google, “Year In Search.”

In 2018, Google decided to launch an ad campaign centered around the most common search terms used on their platform throughout the previous year. This proved to be a great way to connect everyone who watched the adverts, especially when it was revealed that the word “Good” had been searched more times than ever before.

9. Volkswagen, “Think Small.”

Even a decade and a half after WWII, American’s were still fixated on the large and fast US-made cars that dominated the market, rather than smaller European models. VW decided to take advantage of this in 1960, producing their “Think Small” ad campaign that sought to highlight the small size of their cars as a selling point rather than something terrible.

10. Skittles, “Taste The Rainbow.”

Skittles have long been using the “Taste The Rainbow” slogan for their advertising, and most people will associate these words with the colorful candy. The tagline works because it gives customers the sense that they will not only see the colors in Skittles; they will be able to taste it. Conveying taste through marketing can be challenging, but Skittles has nailed it with this one.

11. Sony (Bravia), “Colour Like No Other.”

The early 2000s was an excellent time for companies like Sony. Anyone old enough to remember 2006 will likely have seen the “Colour Like No Other” balls advert that hit TVs worldwide. This advert is compelling yet straightforward, with Sony dropping 250,000 bouncy balls down a San Francisco street to get across the idea that their Bravia TV line-up offered better color than anyone else’s. 

12. Leslie’s Weekly, “I Want You!”

It’s time to look back at an ancient marketing campaign, one that is often viewed as propaganda today. Most people know of Uncle Sam and will have seen the famous “I Want You!” poster plastered across the US throughout 1917. This poster was initially published in Leslie’s Weekly to push young people to join the military during WWI.

13. Red Bull, “Stratos.”

Red Bull has long been using extreme sports to advertise its energy drinks. The Red Bull Stratos project was a little different and involved sending a man named Felix Baumgartner up to an altitude of almost 26 miles for the highest free-fall in human history. More than 9.5 million users watched the event live, and Felix was the first human to break the sound barrier without a powered vehicle. Pretty cool, and great advertising.

14. Absolut, “The Bottle Campaign.”

Starting in 1980, Absolut ran their “Bottle” campaign for around 25 years. Making their bottles one of the most recognizable globally, this campaign involved countless printed images of their bottles taking on different forms. These ads have gone down in history from New York taxi cabs to the peel from an orange. 

15. Twix, “It’s Time To DeSide.”

Despite both sides of a Twix bar being identical, this candy manufacturer took advantage of the competitiveness of humans with their “It’s Time To DeSide” campaign. Asking customers which side of Twix was the best, they could poke fun at their product while also creating an ad campaign that stuck in customers’ minds.

16. Dos Equis, “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”

Even if you haven’t seen the legendary Dos Equis “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, it’s likely that you’ve seen the memes that have spawned from it. The catchphrase that comes with these adverts has been enshrined in internet history, and this is an excellent way to sell a product, even if it wasn’t the intended result.

17. Pepsi, “Is Pepsi okay?”

If you’ve ever asked for a Coke at a restaurant or bar that serves Pepsi, you’ve probably heard “Is Pepsi okay?” as the response. Well aware of being widely considered second-best compared to Coca-Cola, Pepsi has long taken advantage of this, with their “Is Pepsi okay?” campaign poking fun at their beverage.

18. Avis, “We Try Harder.”

Much like Pepsi, Avis has long been the second most successful company in its field. Having worked extremely hard to take the top spot, Avis created the “We Try Harder” campaign to show customers that they work much harder than the competition.

Advertising has long been a significant element of human society. No matter where you are in the world, you can see adverts plastered on walls and displayed through your TV screens. While many of history’s most outstanding ad campaigns are behind us, there is still plenty of room for more to join the ranks of those we’ve covered in this article.