As a final farewell to 2018, the editors of Ad Age's Creativity are highlighting the year's best brand ideas across a range of categories.
In this installment, we count down the top 10 outstanding ideas of the year in the realm of digital, integrated and social media. These campaigns gracefully leverage technology to imbue brands with heart, helpfulness and humor across a range of categories including food, publishing, automotive and tech.
Google "elevated" the art of the selfie with this tool added to its Arts & Culture app that matched your face with countenances captured throughout history in classic and modern art. When it debuted in January, the app went straight to the top of Apple's download charts. Our social feeds became flooded with friends' painterly doppelgangers and we couldn't stop playing with it ourselves. We tried it again recently and it's still plenty of fun-- and it seems even more mugs have been added to the mix.
Twitter is not just a platform for timely updates. You can also use it to order pizza and this year, thanks to BMW's Mini, you can use it to summon a car for a test drive. This fall, the auto brand partnered with the social platform to allow car buyers in L.A. and San Francisco to have a Mini Countryman delivered to their door for a 30-minute test spin, just by tweeting with the hashtag #MINIonDemand.
No. 8: RX Bar, "No B.S."
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Portland
This campaign for Kellogg-owned RX Bar from Wieden & Kennedy Portland proved you don't need a big production to capture attention. No-frills online videos depicted rapper and actor Ice T popping out of a door and telling it like it is: "Hi, I'm famous and this is a commercial," he says in one. The campaign promoted the brand's no-B.S. approach to nutrition and also included a hotline that turned viewers' B.S. beefs into animations. The effort helped increase brand awareness from around 8 percent to 15.3 percent mid-way through the campaign's run, according to RX Bar.
No. 7: Sonos and the Nasdaq Market Bell
Agency: Edelman; Anomaly
Sound has played an increasingly important role in advertising and marketing, and we found this idea to be the most inventive in this space in 2018. Audio electronics firm Sonos asserted its commitment to top-quality sound when it redesigned the "ring" of the Nasdaq bell to coincide with its own initial public offiering. The idea also dovetailed with Nasdaq's own branding refresh, as the company has more pointedly embraced a focus on technology and the idea of "relentless possibility."
No. 6: MGM Resorts, "Universal Love"
Agency: McCann New York
Inclusivity now seems to be a given in marketing messages, but this idea for MGM Resorts from McCann New York embraced it in a whole new way -- it tapped top recording artists including Bob Dylan, Kesha and St. Vincent to re-record classic loves songs to create a LGBTQ wedding album. The campaign also included a music video for Kesha's rendition of a Janis Joplin tune, "I Need a Woman to Love Me," which saw the artist, an ordained minister, presiding over a same-sex wedding at the Bellagio Hotel.
No. 5: Schweppes, "The Dress for Respect"
Agency: Ogilvy Brasil
Ogilvy Brasil and beverage brand Schweppes created a dress outfitted with sensors that recorded when its wearer was touched without consent -- and the results of the experiment were revealing. The campaign did not merely use tech for tech's sake. Rather, it leveraged technology to help open viewers' eyes to the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in a year dominated by #MeToo headlines.
No. 4: Times of London, "JFK Unsilenced"
Irish agency Rothco and the Times of London leveraged data to allow the world to finally hear the speech John F. Kennedy was meant to deliver in Dallas had he not been assassinated in 1963. The agency teamed with an audio tech company to analyze more than 800 of JFK's analog recordings in order to reconstruct his words--which prove to have startling resonance in today's current political climate. The campaign went on to win the 2018 Cannes Lions Creative Data Grand Prix.
No. 3: Domino's, "Paving for Pizza"
Agency: Crispin Porter Bogusky
Domino's Pizza has earned a reputation as a technology company that's a fast-food brand in disguise with innovative digital ideas such as emoji and Twitter ordering. So in 2018, we were tickled when the pizza purveyor debuted this departure from the tech wizardry. "Paving for Pizza," an idea conceived by Domino's longtime agency Crispin Porter Bogusky, encouraged consumers to report their neighborhood's faulty roads, and Domino's would help repair them in an effort to ensure that their pies would get to consumers intact. Customers submitted more than 137,000 nominations from 15,275 ZIP codes, and even municipal governments and community groups encouraged citizens to participate. So far, Domino's has paved roads in 13 cities and has expanded to program to pave roads in at least one community in each of the 50 states.
For International Women's Day in March, the New York Times set out to right a huge wrong when it posthumously published obituaries of important women in history it failed to feature when they passed. The "Overlooked" project began with obits covering the contributions of investigative reporter Ida B. Wells, poet Qiu Jin and photographer Diane Arbus and has continued with more recent pieces on Texas author Gertrude Beasley, Indian princess and British spy Noor Inayat Khan and Charley Parkhurst, the one-eyed stagecoach driver whose gender identity remained hidden throughout her adult life. The project debuted alongside a new spot in Droga5's ongoing campaign for the Times centered on how "The Truth Is Hard."
A group of indefatigable young men and women refused to let the gun violence problem in U.S. become yet another blip in the news cycle, spawning one of the year's most powerful cultural movements. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida made certain that mass shootings would remain top of mind for both politicians and voters through their dogged social media efforts and impassioned activism mobilizing supporters for the March for Our Lives.
Their work inspired many others to amplify the message with outstanding creative ideas, including McCann New York's "The Vicious Cycle," a stirring music video that carried the cause to the midterm elections; the agency's "Price on Our Lives" effort that featured price tags students could wear to reflect how much they were "worth" to politicians who accept money from the NRA gun lobby; and an Instagram coloring book from BBH.