5 Ad Campaigns That Don’t Suck

When you’re developing a complete advertising campaign, you would think you’ve got all of your bases covered, right? Well, do you?

We’ve all seen our fair share of ad campaigns that suck and for the sake of legalities, I won’t mention any names or show any material to that effect. However, what I will do is recognize very successful endeavors (in my own opinion of course) and take a quick peak at what makes them not suck.

For the sake of visual stimulation, I’ll simply include the commercial portion of the ad campaigns.


Lincoln – Starships Don’t Need Keys

This is by far one of my recent top favorites. Lincoln, a Ford brand, recently underwent a major overhaul for their car line and very successfully integrated a smart campaign to overcome some of their biggest challenges.

Lincoln was faced with an aging demographic and boring, expensive vehicles. Their team of marketing guru’s put together a very ‘Trekkie’ like ad campaign that started with the ‘starships don’t need keys’ advertisement and moved into a series of very sexy, tasty commercials with great music. Since, Lincoln has integrated this into their corporate website and all offline collateral. Though I didn’t see it really expand to social media, they had my attention.


Apple – Mac Vs. PC

A classic. In one of Apple’s most extensive anti-PC campaigns ever, two stereotypical individuals face off in conversations that outline how bulky and unnecessary the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system is and that purchasing a PC equipped with such is is not nearly as good as the decision to switch to Apple. We all remember Apple’s anti-Intel commercials from back in the day, these are of the same. I won’t mention, however, that Apple computers now include Intel processors. 😉

With Apple’s iPod, iPhone and recent iPad product launches, they are beginning to eat up more market share. This campaign was a smart move as users clearly experienced quite a bit of difficulties with Vista and both the TV and printed ads brought them into the light with a side of comedy. This ad campaign wins because it is clever, funny and memorable. Side note: Windows 7 is a HUGE improvement.


Victoria Secret – What is Sexy?

My guess is that before this ad campaign was developed, the Exec’s over at Victoria Secret had just seen the second Transformers movie and joked about having Michael Bay direct one of their commercials. So, what do you get when you combine intense action from Michael Bay, babes in black lace, explosions, hot cars and rock music? Pure genius.

Victoria Secret launched a complete ‘What is Sexy?” Christmas 2009 ad campaign at the start of 4th quarter last year to the end result of record breaking sales. My guess is that the combination of these commercials, strategically placed magazine advertisements and the social community spreading it like wildfire is what made this campaign work. One can only think that the majority of the Christmas 2009 lingerie buyers were male.


Old Spice – I’m On A Horse

This one still cracks me up. When what the social environment is calling the ‘I’m On A Horse’ campaign went viral shortly after the Superbowl, one might ask why it wasn’t aired during the event. Well, because they knew they didn’t have to. I was surprised to find this video appearing everywhere and on major blogs worldwide and in just a matter of days, Old Spice wrapped up all the loose ends with a few more commercials and some killer print ads.

This campaign is great because it not only grabs and holds your attention, but it is something to talk about. When you create something to talk about, it will catch on and take off. Old Spice nailed it right on the head of the horse with this one!

Find a recent commercial addition here.


Avatar – The Movie

Can I go as far as to say that the social environment was the driving force behind Avatar attendance? We all know the story wasn’t as strong as it could have been but the visual explosion that Cameron created was phenomenal. It was curiosity that drawled the hoards of people to Avatar after hearing about it from a friend, seeing a trailer, reading the hype online or the month-long Twitter trending topic position it held. Whatever it was, this campaign was a success.

Avatar grew mainly from word of mouth, and the planners behind their ad campaign were smart to play off of that. They partnered with the right people for the right things at the right time and scored with a nearly 2 billion dollar success!


Granted these campaigns are funded and backed by some of the worlds largest corporations, created by a marketing team larger than my entire corporate office and recognized faster than Paris Hilton at church on Sunday…it doesn’t mean you can’t do the same.

The goal is to create something people will want to be a part of. Does your ad campaign have what it takes? Is it designed to work offline and in print? Have you integrated a social strategy that will encourage the sharing of its content? These are all questions you should ask yourself before launching an ad campaign that may or may not suck.

Good luck!


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