10 for the 2010s: Our favourite ads of the decade

For better or worse, I think we can all agree much has changed in the last 10 years. One thing that hasn’t? The compulsive need to celebrate the end of a decade with countless best-of lists. Always willing to do our part, we asked 10 Banfielders to tell us about their favourite ads of the 2010s.

Running the gamut from the emotional to the empowering, the whimsical to the deadly serious – and sometimes all of these at once – here are our choices, in no particular order.*

Smell Like a Man – Old Spice (2010)

Timothy Jones, President & Creative Director

This is a great example of a brand using a bold and risky strategy to reposition and make itself relevant again. Old Spice struck the perfect balance and tone by combining humour, self-deprecation and a good-looking shirtless man in a beautifully executed campaign that appealed to both the women who make 60% of body wash purchases, and the men who use it. It could have gone totally wrong, but instead it became a cultural phenomenon that took on a life of its own.

Dumb Ways to Die – Metro Trains Melbourne (2012)

Derrick Outram, Senior Writer & Partner

Dumb Ways to Die checks all the boxes for me. Clever premise? Check. Cartoon violence? Check. Insanely catchy song? Check. Characters named Numskull, Bungle, Stumble and Putz? Not really on my list, but check. A simple but important message that actually got through? Check there as well. Dumb Ways to Die became one of the most successful campaigns in history – generating hundreds of millions of YouTube views and leading to a 30% reduction in near-miss incidents at Metro Train crossings and stations.

Real Beauty Sketches – Dove (2013)

Eleanor Beale, Strategist

As part of their ongoing Campaign For Real Beauty, Dove created this incredibly moving experiment to demonstrate that 96% of women still don’t describe themselves has beautiful (a finding from Unilever market research conducted in 2004). More than 50 million people viewed the Dove video within 12 days of its release. To date, Real Beauty Sketches has been viewed almost 180 million times. It has been uploaded in 25 languages to 46 Dove YouTube channels across the world. Overall it achieved 4.6 billion media impressions.

The Scarecrow – Chipotle Mexican Grill (2013)

Devin Singleton, Senior Motion Designer

Chipotle, the Scarecrow from Pixelis on Vimeo.

This one is from a few years ago, but I think it’s just as striking as it was when it first launched. In most cases I also feel animation has more longevity — it has a way of inviting people in that live action sometimes can’t compete with. The message isn’t necessarily new, but reframing it like this with an emotional narrative sure makes it feel that way.

The Trash Isles – Plastic Oceans Foundation (2014)

Craig Lobban, Creative Director

Built on the insight that the ocean’s plastic has come together to form an area larger than France, the Plastic Oceans Foundation petitioned the UN to grant the “Trash Isles” official country status. By doing so, and designing everything a real country has (flag, currency, citizenship), they raised awareness of the problem and got global media coverage.

Like a Girl – Always (2014)

Kristal Felea, Global Account Director & Partner

Instead of talking about absorbency and a mysterious blue liquid, Always tapped into a deeper insight to engage people on an emotional level. It challenged gender stereotypes head on in a very real way using real people – and their own words – sparking not only important conversations, but an entire social awareness and cultural change movement. It struck a chord and was very successful, earning 90+ million views and changing perceptions globally.

Fearless Girl – State Street Global Advisors (2017)

Lindsay Gavey, Strategy Director

It’s hard to think of a bigger moment in the advertising landscape in the last decade – what has been more meaningful, ground-shifting, or created as much ‘talk’ as Fearless Girl? This was a game-changer. It put McCann back on top. It inspired countless other campaigns. I love that it’s street and totally offline. I love that it created a before and after. And I love that she persisted and became a symbol.

Eat the Ice Cream – Halo Top (2017)

Liz Jackson, Copywriter

Halo Top’s “Eat the Ice Cream” is without a doubt my favourite ad of the 2010s (and probably ever). It’s dystopian, it’s creepy and it’s super, super bleak — everything you could ever want in an ad for low-calorie ice cream, right?

Believe in Something – Nike (2018)

Craig Hooper, Senior UX Designer

an image from Nike's Colin Kaepernick campaign

For a brand as big as Nike, using Colin Kaepernick as the face of the “Just Do It” campaign was a huge gamble – seeing that he’d become a lightning rod of controversy. There didn’t seem to be any middle ground: You were either on his side, or on the “other”. The gamble paid off and the people that burned their sneakers on YouTube in protest ended up looking foolish, IMO. It also pissed the President off, and I’ll personally take that as a win any day.

Lamp Sequel – IKEA (2018)

Véronique Gravel, Director of Client Services & Partner

I loved looking back at the best commercials from this decade. My top choices typically go to the funniest ads, but surprisingly this one really stood out to me. The cinematography grabbed my attention and I got caught up in seeing what was going to happen to this… lamp? If an inanimate object got me feeling emotional, it had to win. IKEA stands behind important causes and always manages to weave in valuable messages beyond just low-priced furniture.

Honourable Mention: Back-to-School Essentials – Sandy Hook Promise (2019)

This incredibly powerful piece felt just a little too recent to make a best-of-the-decade list, but certainly belongs on merit. It’s a heart-wrenching anxiety-inducing emotional gut-punch that cleverly juxtaposes the excitement of back-to-school with the terrifying reality of the gun violence epidemic in American schools. We can only hope it helps build momentum towards meaningful action in the decade to come.

*Okay, chronological. Happy holidays everyone!

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