Ad of the Year: Campaign US' favorite ads of 2019

Staff pick their personal top spots from the last year.

Damn. What a year. What. A. Year. You all really pulled out the stops when it came to creativity in 2019. Thank you. More of that please.

Brands and agencies set the world alight with powerful campaigns which took culture by the horns. Many of 2019’s top initiatives were celebrated at numerous events throughout the year including Campaign US’ Inclusive & Creative Awards and the Power of Purpose Awards. These include Microsoft’s "Changing the Game" by McCann New York, The New York Times’ "The Truth is Worth it by Droga5" and "Go Back to Africa" by FCB/SIX.

Other newsroom favorites have been Wendy’s "Keeping Fortnite Fresh" by VMLY&R and Wieden + Kennedy’s last minute edition, "Naughty or…" Meanwhile, adland’s brand mavericks were celebrated in our annual Top 10 Marketing Disruptors list.

Creativity is the core of what this industry does best, and Campaign US is fiercely passionate about championing it whenever and wherever it can. Last year, we launched our Ad of the Week series to celebrate all things creative. As a new decade is upon us, we’re taking a look back at our personal favorite ads of the year. 


Lindsay’s pick: "The Last Issue Ever" by VMLY&R Poland for Twój Weekend

Female empowerment. Creativity. Bravery. Brand partnerships. Overall badassery.

This effort from VMLY&R Poland is one of the most beautifully executed initiatives over the last year – and perhaps the last decade.

Last March, VMLY&R teamed up with Wavemaker, Polish newspaper, Mastercard and BNP Paribas to buy Poland’s longest-running porn magazine, Twój Weekend, just to shut it down. But before ending its run completely, the companies decided to launch one final issue on International Women’s Day.

The special edition took the publication that long objectified women and transformed it into an incredible piece of work that focused on female empowerment, equal rights, sexual education and much more. Rather than replace its existing columns and series, VMLY&R reimagined the sections in the magazine with more appropriate content  – and, of course – the final issue had no nude photos.

To cap it all off, "The Last Issue Ever" included a big social media push, which drove important conversations among global media outlets, influencers, celebrities and consumers.  

Initiatives like this help remind me what an incredible impact the ad industry can – and does - have on social issues and the world at large. 

Mike’s pick: Feel the Power of Pro by adam&eveDDB for PlayStation

Playstation ads have a long history of being frankly, kind of weird- and that’s why I love them. 

While there are the more mainstream ads such as this one for the Playstation 3.

There were a few from the early 2000s that completely baffled everyone who watched. Was this an ad for a new horror movie or a game console? 

But this latest ad has struck a happy medium between weird, and impactful, and mature, as it portrays a completely submerged and deserted city. 

The beautiful cinematography takes you through underwater streets, restaurants and train stations, as the viewer is left to wonder how this could have happened. 

Climate change? Or a more supernatural cause?  

The big reveal is even more surprising- turns out it’s a deluge of tears from a young (male) gamer who’s experiencing an emotional moment while playing famed video game designer’s latest machination, Death Stranding. 

The ad is poignant, and emphasizes two things- it’s perfectly fine for men to cry (enough to flood the world, sure) and that videogames can be emotional without being non-stop brain dead action.

Oliver's pick: Air Max Graffiti Stores by AKQA São Paulo for Nike


The perfect combination of raw creativity, tech and cultural rebellion. 

São Paulo’s street scene was under attack by a governor who wanted to scrub the city clean of its graffiti art. Nike stepped in to shine a light on remaining characters by challenging artists to revisit their work and add new Air Max shoes. 

The brand partnered with WPP’s AKQA (a transformative agency that really doesn’t get enough credit for its work) and  Brazilian street-art collective InstaGraffiti.

Graffiti artists updated existing characters with the most coveted Air Max models, dropping a new shoe line each week in different city districts. Fans obtained the shoes by visiting the walls and unlocking purchase at using geolocation. 

While the city’s walls were transformed into stores, a surprise twist: the governor was convicted for erasing cultural heritage. Nike jumped on this and invited artists who’d had their work removed to bring the characters back avec sneaks. 

Graffiti Stores became a profitable platform for new releases. The murals increased visits to by 22 percent and 32 percent uptick in Air Max sales. All of this was aided by an 80-million social media reach and powerful organic headlines. 

The future of marketing lives at the intersection of experience led by creativity and leveraged by data/tech. We’ll see more brands play in this area as 2020 unfolds. Good job, too, because I can’t remember the last time a TV ad made me buy something.

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