The Guardian "Three Little Pigs"
For its first major branding campaign, The Guardian took the story of the "Three Little Pigs" and updated it for a world dealing with terrorism, profiling, corporate malpractice and more. Gritty and dark, the ad gets across the value proposition of a news organization and encapsulates its social-media prowess.
Nike "Find Your Greatness (Jogger)"
Nike wasn't an official Olympic sponsor, but it stole the show with those green-volt shoes in the stadium and the "Find Your Greatness" campaign on TV. This spot, featuring an overweight American teen, was Nike advertising at its best -- beautifully shot, powerful and surprising.
Red Bull "Stratos (Felix Baumgartner Jump)"
Millions of people were captivated by Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking high-altitude jump, which was sponsored by Red Bull. (Note: He did not jump from space.) Spectators tuned in not once, but twice (thanks to weather delays) to witness, and media outlets from around the world covered the event as if it were a Mars landing.
P&G "Best Job"
Wieden & Kennedy
We expected some emotional moments from the Olympics this year, but were a little surprised to be left a weeping mess by an ad from Procter & Gamble. "The hardest job in the world, is the best job in the world" may be grammatically incorrect but we'll overlook that . For Mom.
McD's Canada "Why Our Food Looks Better"
Tribal DDB, Canada
Perhaps McDonald's USA could take a lesson or two from its counterparts to the north. McD's Canada struck viral gold with a simple concept: Answer viewer questions. In this execution, marketing director Hope Bagozzi showed us why a store-bought burger looks so different from one in the ads.
"Oreo Daily Twist"
Draft Fcb, 360i
Take a legendary brand, some old-school advertising and add an interactive component and you've got "The Daily Twist." The effort to celebrate Oreo's 100th presented a different take on the world -- and iconic Oreo -- every day for 100 days. Themes included gay pride, the Mars rover and Elvis.
Old Spice "Muscle Music"
Wieden & Kennedy
Old Spice's craziest work for the past couple of years has been that featuring Terry Crews. In this one -- the first time the brand worked with Vimeo on a campaign -- consumers can use their keyboards to make songs using Crews' muscles. Must be seen to be believed, really.
Chevy Sonic "Stunt Anthem"
Sure, people might say they remember Chevy's stunt effort with stunt band OK Go. But what they actually remember is this Super Bowl spot, a montage of Chevy stunts. OK Go is driving the car in one scene, but the music on everyone's lips afterward was Fun's "We Are Young."
Gatorade "What's Inside"
This spot broke the day the IOC restrictions on athlete ads lifted and sounded almost like an anti-corporate manifesto. It wasn't on signs and billboards, but it was "there for real," said this ad for the No. 1 sports-drink brand before revealing Usain Bolt.
DirecTV "Roadside Ditch"
"When your cable company puts you on hold, you get angry," starts one of many DirecTV spots that show the outlandish and sometimes horrible things that may befall a person who settles for cable, including re-enacting scenes from "Platoon" with Charlie Sheen or waking up in a roadside ditch.
MORE STORIES FROM THIS ISSUE
- Who to Watch in Adland in 2013
- People We'll Miss That We Lost in 2012
- Where Advertisers Went Wrong in 2012
- The Biggest Advertising News Stories of 2012
- See Ad Age's Magazine Covers of the Year
- Ten Epic Media Feuds of 2012