Top 10 Powerful Ads

  • KFC: “The State of Kentucky Fried Chicken Address”

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    The actual Colonel Sanders passed away in 1980, and Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond made his debut impersonating KFC’s iconic chicken purveyor this year. But Hammond’s ads were controversial, with some worried that he was mocking Sanders. KFC says Hammond wasn’t fired, but swapped him out for fellow SNL alum Norm Macdonald within the year.

  • Calvin Klein: Justin Bieber + Lara Stone

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    In a year focused on revamping his image, a beefed-up Bieber took the world by storm in a seminude ad campaign for Calvin Klein. People couldn’t decide if the Biebs could be considered “hot,” and clamored to find out if any Photoshop was involved. But in a true sign of the ad’s cultural relevance, it was parodied on Saturday Night Live with Kate McKinnon playing a man-child version of Bieber.

  • Budweiser: “Lost Dog”

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    The absurdly cute pup from last year’s popular Budweiser ad reunites with the Clydesdales in this year’s crowd-pleasing Super Bowl spot. It’s the ultimate testament to interspecies friendship.

  • T-Mobile: “Kim’s Data Stash”

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    A Super Bowl ad where Kim Kardashian (“famous person,” as the ad identifies her) makes fun of her seflie obsession while making an emotional plea to save unused phone data? Well done, T-Mobile.

  • Campbell’s: “Your Father”

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    It may have been a banner year for gay rights in America with the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, but it’s still rare to see gay couples depicted in mainstream advertising. That’s why this ad for Campbell’s soup showing a son and his two fathers says that it’s “made for real, real life.”

  • Nationwide: “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up”

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    The insurance company faced intense backlash for its Super Bowl commercial that takes a dark turn when you find out the little boy narrating it “died from an accident.” People complained the ad was a morbid and callous way to sell a product, leading to Nationwide issuing a statement saying, “The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.”

  • Barbie: “Imagine the Possibilities”

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    The iconic doll has struggled with flagging sales and what many see as an outdated view of femininity — this is the first year Barbie wore flats. With this smart new ad campaign, we can see how Mattel is taking Barbie out of her dream house and into a modern age of feminism and empowerment for young girls.

  • Extra Gum: “The Story of Sarah and Juan”

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    People might not often equate gum with grand romance, but this sweet spot from Extra went viral as audiences followed the epic relationship between Sarah and Juan. Much like its predecessor, Origami, the tale unfolds via gum wrappers.

  • Always: “Unstoppable”

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    The ‘Like a Girl’ campaign from Always has been successful in its efforts to explore the restrictions placed on young girls by our culture. In this ad, the feminine hygiene product company has women and young girls write society’s limitations of women on white boxes – “you should be perfect,” “girls aren’t strong,” – and then destroy those boxes. The metaphor makes for powerful optics.

  • Ad Council: “Love Has No Labels”

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    This beautiful PSA hooks you with a strange image of skeletons embracing, and then delivers a powerful message about prejudice when you find out who the bones belong to. With the Valentine’s Day setting and the sweet soundtrack, it packs an emotional wallop.

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