To quote William Bernbach, one of the founders of the famed DDB advertising agency, “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion, and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art”. In this article, we wanted to take a look at some of the most influential and outstanding pieces of advertising in recent memory. Our selections, both new and old, have either managed to embed themselves into pop culture and a popular consciousness, transform the face of the industry, or shape the culture and convention of the very society that the they operate in.
Check ’em out:
Think Small – Volkswagen
Directed by Helmut Krone with copy written by Julia Koenig, the ‘Think Small” Volkswagen campaign is regarded as one of the best advertising campaigns in the history of the industry. Produced at DDB, largely under the supervision of advertising virtuoso William Bernbach (the ‘B’ in DDB), the simplicity of this printed campaign smashed the status quo with regards to auto-mobile adverts and changed the face of advertising as a whole.
The Marlboro Man – Marlboro
Leo Burnett dreamt up the robust figure of the Marlboro Man in the mid 50’s when, due to the emerging, negative scientific data on the hazards of smoking, cigarette companies had started to push filtered cigarettes to assuage widespread fears and concerns. However, since its inception the filtered cigarette was largely considered to be a product for women. The Marlboro Man campaign was conceived in order to transform this widely held perception and imbue filtered cigarettes with a more masculine energy; the resulting image of a rugged cowboy smoking in the untamed American landscape typified a 20th Century type of American Masculinity.
Wazzzzupppp – Budweiser
Before Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, before everyone had a smartphone in their pocket and the internet at their fingertips, it was a lot harder to create something with the potential to go ‘viral’. Internet culture today is, arguably, defined by a plethora of short-lived memes and videos that fade out as quickly as they burst on the scene. In many ways, Budweiser’s ‘Wazzup’ campaign pre-empted the forthcoming meme and viral video age and embedded itself in the popular consciousness by penetrating numerous spheres of entertainment. Films, Tv Shows and even Wrestlers all mimicked, parodied or riffed on the simple catchphrase and, in doing so, solidified the advertisement’s place in the CLIO Hall of Fame.
Bottles in the wild – Absolut
One of the longest, uninterrupted ad campaigns ever – clocking in at around 25 years – Absolut’s ‘Bottles in the Wild’ advertisements managed to create a fascinating, international story out of the otherwise mundane shape of their vodka bottle. Over 1,500 ads later, Absolut accounted for half of all the imported Vodka in the entire U.S.
Gorilla – Cadbury
In 2007 Fallon London, Juan Cabral and Garon Michael created one of the most recognisable pieces of viral marketing in recent memory- Gorilla. With the help of a costume, a set of drums and Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” this campaign, devised for Cadbury Schweppes, managed to capture the interest and intrigue of an entire nation. The humour, bewilderment and social media engagement that it inspired was paramount in reversing the decline the company had been experiencing in early 2007. Much in the same way that ‘Wazzup’ seeped into the popular consciousness, so too did Gorilla; several parodies and homages were created soon after the advert’s first airing.
A Diamond is Forever – DeBeers
One of the most impressive campaigns on the list because of how it essentially changed western conventions and culture, De Beer’s and N.W Ayer’s ‘A Diamond is Forever’ campaign launched in 1948; and diamonds, romance and love have been intertwined ever since. Before Mary Frances Gerety coined the term, and before the slogan adorned posters, ads and billboards everywhere, diamond rings weren’t synonymous with marriages and engagements. Fast-forward to the present day and diamond rings are a symbol of long-term commitment and affection; something which is largely down to De Beers.