The best of 2015: Staff picks

Campaign US reporters and editors choose their favorite stories and columns of 2015

The dashboards tell us which of our stories and guest columns are most popular with readers. Sometimes the hits are predictable, other times baffling. Not surprisingly, the readers’ top picks don’t always match our own. Yes, we’re biased. But that doesn't make us wrong. Here are our picks for the best of Campaign US from 2015.

Douglas Quenqua

Global brands take two-faced strategy with LGBT issues abroad
July 7, 2015, Todd Wasserman
It was a momentous year for LGBT rights in the U.S., and some of the world’s largest corporations were there to cheer along — even when it meant alienating more conservative consumers. Yet outside the US, these same brands stay largely silent on the issue. If LGBT issues are so important to these companies, why not use their influence to change minds in less hospitable parts of the world? Todd Wasserman (with some help from Campaign’s global news staff), explored the complex reality.

Deutsch steals art for charity, but crime doesn't pay much
November 4, 2015, Eleftheria Parpis
The plan was never a simple one: Steal some famous but neglected art from a slum in Kenya, auction the work for a fortune in the US, then donate the proceeds to your client, a charity that would help bring clean water to the slum. Not surprisingly, things didn’t quite go to plan, raising some uncomfortable questions, most notably: Is the lust for awards driving smart agencies to do dumb things? A great piece from Elleftheria Parpis. (Also check out the follow-up story, in which the artist at the center of the controversy finally breaks his silence.)

Why baseball, W.B. Mason?
October 12, 2015, I-Hsien Sherwood
It’s a question that’s plagued media-savvy baseball fans in the Northeast US for years: Why does office-supply company W.B. Mason advertise relentlessly on baseball games, yet hardly anywhere else? Do office supply managers watch baseball exclusively? I-Hsien Sherwood unearthed the answer.

Can Toys 'R' Us bring discipline to toddler unboxing videos?
November 16, 2015, Zanub Saeed
To kick off our How to Advertise to Kids Now package in November, Zanub Saeed took a close look at the weird world of toddler unboxing videos, and one retailer’s attempt to legitimize the practice.

The Brand Stays in the Picture
September 18, 2015, Jenny Chan and Douglas Quenqua
Months before Mars CMO Bruce McColl fired up the agency world with his speech at the AANA imploring clients to let their agencies out of "creative imprisonment," we took an in-depth look at how the company worked with BBDO to find a new global footing for Pedigree. True to McColl’s words, the nearly two-year process was marked by creative exploration and a lot of patience. (Also check out the second part of the story, in which we explore how different BBDO agencies around the world interpreted the central idea.)

Eleftheria Parpis
Deputy Editor

Why women in advertising should be proud to use the F-word
August 3, 2015, Laura Fegley
The word "feminist" carries with it all sorts of historical baggage, and many women simply don’t want to be defined by any term at all, even if they do ascribe to its principles. In this topical column, Laura Fegley, former ECD at BBH New York, explains why the F-word still makes some ad women "squirmy" and what it means to be a feminist in advertising today.

A poisoned lemon
September 25, 2015, Faris Yakob
The biggest brand fail of the year came from Volkswagen, which admitted it had been cheating emissions tests by outfitting millions of cars worldwide with a "defeat device" that improved results. Faris Yakob, co-founder of Genius Steals, gives voice to the universal betrayal felt by fans of this once beloved, inspiring brand.

Can a 3-year-old recognize the Target logo?
November 12, 2015, Douglas Quenqua
Kicking off a week-long editorial package examining marketing to kids, this video featuring young children attempting to identify brand logos revealed just how much kids really do pay attention to marketing messages. Plus, it’s fun to watch.
Mars CMO blasts clients for locking agencies in 'creative imprisonment'?
October 28, 2015, Douglas Quenqua
It’s rare to see a prominent marketing executive give such bold public criticism of industry practices as this review delivered by Mars CMO Bruce McColl at the Australian Association of National Advertisers in October. Too many brands are keeping agencies in "creative imprisonment," he said, citing low pay, creative restrictions and stifling bureaucracy.

A tribute to legendary adman Pat Fallon
November 16, 2015, Eleftheria Parpis
2015 was the year the advertising industry lost of one of its greatest. I wouldn’t usually point to a story that I put together, but this one paid tribute to the great Pat Fallon. Former colleagues shared poignant memories of working with the legendary ad man after he suddenly passed way in November.

Sarah Shearman
Launch Editor

The year ahead for women
January 6, 2015, by Kat Gordon
Kat Gordon is a force of nature, and she kicked off 2015 with her expectations for women in the industry, with added gusto. "The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet." Enough said.

Heritage brands open door to LGBT families
February 04, 2015 by Matthew Rothenberg
This year has been historic for LGBT rights in America and we closely covered how the industry was supporting the cause and gradually phasing outdated stereotypes relating to gender and sexuality. This article offers an insightful deep dive into the issue.

Native programmatic: Apples and oranges in the same basket
March 31, 2015, Susan Kuchinskas
Susan Kuchinskas explores how native and programmatic, unexpected and seemingly contradictory bedfellows, could be the future of advertising — together.

Life after 'Mad Men': Adland reflects on its own Mad Men moments
May 15, 2015, Sarah Shearman
As a huge Mad Men fan, still recovering from the end of the show, I enjoyed hearing about people’s own Mad Men experiences — the scenes that resonated with them the most in their own agency careers. Timeless.

A poisoned lemon
September 25, 2015, Faris Yakob
As a bloke who is thoroughly passionate about brands, Faris Yakob discusses what was arguably the biggest marketing fail of the year — the VW scandal — and why he felt so personally disappointed.

Matthew Rothenberg
Director of Content

Why baseball, W.B. Mason?

October 12, 2015, I-Hsien Sherwood
We've all seen the old-timey W.B. Mason ads connected with baseball — and many of us never gave them another thought. This story chases down the connection between office supplies and America's pastime.

Everything wrong with Jose Cuervo’s new Rolling Stone ad
September 15, 2015, Douglas Quenqua
Half the fun of fandom is an attention to detail. José Cuervo's putative re-creation of the Stones' 1972 "Sticky Fingers" provokes the true fan. Identifying every inaccuracy in this short spot is a sport in itself.

Can a 3-year-old recognize the Target logo?
November 12, 2015, Douglas Quenqua
Very little gets past tiny kids — including branding. Check out how early little ones learn to recognize the true meaning of logos (including cigarette brands, alas).

The Myth of the global consumer
October 5, 2015, Todd Wasserman
Globalism is a Holy Grail among big brands. But is a consumer with disposable income really the same in Singapore as in Sweden?

Guys and dolls: Why kids' advertising is going gender neutral?

November 17, 2015, Sarah Shearman
Gender roles are a cornerstone of toy sales. But cultural shifts are pushing kids' advertising in new, gender-neutral directions.

Zanub Saeed
Staff reporter

Everything wrong with Jose Cuervo’s new Rolling Stone ad
September 15, 2015, Douglas Quenqua
If you’re making an ad based on historic events, it’s important to get your facts straight.

Survey: 70% of employees at low-morale ad companies are job hunting
September 22, 2015
This survey highlights something I think all employers and employees should be hyper-aware of: the dangers of bad morale, and how to lift spirits in the workplace.

What advertising can learn from Amy Schumer
July 21, 2015, Laura Fegley
I may not be the biggest Amy Schumer fan, but her everywoman persona is a breath of fresh air. This story uses her example to lay bare our divergent expectations for men and women. Who is allowed to be funny, and when?

The 9 best branded Instagram posts so far

June 5, 2015
Have to love a social media promo that isn’t totally in your face with the branding, preferring to use famous faces and subtle product placement to get their message across. Instagram’s a great way to show the product and have the image tell the story for the brand.

At NY Comic Con, Pepsi takes fans 'Back to the Future' with 'Pepsi Perfect'
October 9, 2015, Zanub Saeed
Pepsi’s did a great job tying its brand to the 30th anniversary DVD release of "Back to The Future." Not only did the company produce a limited-edition Pepsi Perfect bottle this past October, it gave hundreds away during NY Comic-Con, creating a costumed frenzy among admiring consumers.

I-Hsien Sherwood
Staff Reporter

Five steps you can take to foster diversity in your agency

November 2, 2015, Eleftheria Parpis
A lengthy and practical treatise on an important topic.

Why the UK has rushed to embrace Black Friday
November 27, 2015, Matthew Rothenberg
A fun and informative roundup of a trend I didn't know was occurring.

Social media's made fashion more inclusive, but let's not celebrate its diversity just yet
September 16, 2015, Sarah Shearman
A cogent opinion piece that demonstrates an expertise with the industry.

Everything Wrong with Jose Cuervo’s new Rolling Stone ad

September 15, 2015, Douglas Quenqua
Pendantry of the highest order from someone with an obvious chip on his shoulder.

'Supergirl' has a diminutive name but could have a big impact on diversity
November 13, 2015, I-Hsien Sherwood
Thoroughly researched and painstakingly nerdy, this article details the surprising ways the WASPy world of superheroes is becoming more inclusive.

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