Ad Age's Most Read (But Not Necessarily Best) Stories of 2017

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It's tempting, now that the year's about to end, to tout our best stories of 2017. But the problem with naming our "best" stories is that it's a subjective exercise—and not a little self-congratulatory. (Plus, one runs the risk of alienating reporters who don't get mentioned.)

Still, let's start with this: We rebranded in our biggest redesign in nearly 90 years of publishing. With that new look came a new tone, new energy and, hopefully, some new digital-first boldness.

There are a few individual stories we'd highlight as the year's "best," sure. Our strongest, most differentiated reporting—shoe-leather stuff with the potential to make a real impact—often unfolds through a series of articles. For that, check out our coverage of Procter & Gamble's yearlong tango with digital advertising (and a certain activist investor); our up-to-the-minute tick tock on Pepsi's Kendall Jenner snafu and resultant fallout; our pre-Weinstein assessment of endemic harassment and inequality in advertising; and our post-Weinstein news breaks.

Speaking of news breaks, we broke so much in Cannes they might not be able to put it all together again.

But enough horn-tootin'. This post is about what resonated with you. We're not here to draw any conclusions; it's clear from the headlines that these pieces drew a bit of drive-by, one-time traffic. Our top post of the year had mainstream appeal as an old-fashioned shoutout to some high profile, fun and silly creative: the Coen brothers-directed Super Bowl Mercedes spot.

Beyond that, it would also seem the internet also likes things on the…deviant side.

There are a lot of drinks on this list, hard and soft: Coke's sexy pool man gets ogled by mom, son and daughter alike; Zima plotted a comeback; and sugary, boozy drinks had a brief woozy moment. Pepsi got reamed for its tone deaf Kendall Jenner ad (there should be a special German word for traffic generated out of schadenfreude).

The Pepsi ad was both a lookie-loo phenomenon and a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God moment of many in agency land. Which brings us to our next observation: You all love reading about yourselves. The Agency A list is a perennial top-read. Did you make it this year? If not, there's always next year—submissions are open now through Jan. 4.

Also top of mind for agency and brand folks: Procter & Gamble's Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard's line in the sand early this year (a year, it should be noted, that ended with an activist investor taking over a board seat). If it bleeds it leads.

Finally, there was porn. Nothing gets clicks like the word "porn" in the headline. Hopefully our readers arriving from more outré web searches decided to stick around despite the relative PG-nature of our reportage.

Here are Ad Age's top 10 most-read stories of 2017, according to Google Analytics. As we all know, the best kid in class is not always the most popular. Happy holidays, ya filthy animals.

1. See the Mercedes Super Bowl Ad by Coen Brothers

Peter Fonda makes a humerous cameo in this contemporary take on "Easy Rider." Pass the Geritol.

2. A Mom, Son and Daughter All Vie For Attention of Sexy Pool Man in Coke Spot

Coke updated its tried-and-true hot-leading-man approach for contemporary times.

3. Pepsi Is Pulling Its Widely Mocked Kendall Jenner Ad

The brand apologized after spot draws massive backlash, including complaints that it clumsily co-opted protest movements. Have a Coke and a smile, guys.

4. Ad Age's 2017 Agency A-List

With stellar creativity and business smarts, 10 agencies rose to our 2017 A-List, with Anomaly ranking No. 1. Don't bogart those honors this year, bros.

5. Remember Zima? Clear Malt Beverage Is Poised for Comeback

MillerCoors is plotting a return we're not sure anyone wanted for a brand once marketed as "Zomething Different."

6. P&G Tells Digital to Clean Up, Lays Down New Rules for Agencies and Ad Tech to Get Paid

"The days of giving digital a pass are over," Pritchard said, promising P&G won't pay for agencies or tech that don't comply with its new rules. Don't touch that dial as this story continues to unfold into 2018.

7. 5 Awesome, Illegal Uses for Alexa

Here are some fanciful, thought-provoking and illegal uses for automatic speech recognition platforms from Palmer Group CEO Shelly Palmer. Not that we'd ever celebrate lawlessness.

8.10 Sweet New Alcohol Products That Will Give You a Sugar High With Your Buzz

In the alcohol industry, conventional wisdom suggests that millennials really, really like sweet flavors. Why settle for cirrhosis when you can have diabetes, too?

9. 'Nowhere is 100% Safe': Porn Infiltrates Instagram's Live Video Section

A spam attack was blamed for the rush of accounts that streamed sex shows live on the platform. Or so we hear. We wouldn't watch such a thing ourselves.

10. Porn: The Dark Data Metric for Gauging Cultural Attention

Traffic to porn sites can be a useful metric, writes Daniel Carter, VP and director of strategy and creative at Carat USA. We promise "metric" isn't a euphemism.

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