The 19 Best Ads of 2019, Presented by The Ad Spot

January 1, 2020


Justin Kerby

2019 has come to a close, and given that we send out a newsletter full of trending ads every week, we thought it might be a great time to share our favorite spots from the year that was.

We fell in love with a ton of ads this year, and it hurts us that there are dozens of great spots that didn’t make the cut. Our original intention was to do a top 10 list but that was way too hard, so 19 is where we’ll draw the line.

To any of our newsletter subscribers reading this who have been on the journey with us in 2019, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We can’t wait to share more great ads with you in 2020.

Without further ado:

These are the 19 best ads of 2019.

19. BMW: Retirement

The CEO of Mercedes-Benz retired this year, and BMW took the opportunity to hire an actor who looked just like him to bid farewell.

18. KLM: Fly Responsibly

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines created an ad that encourages people NOT to fly. The company is making a commitment to taking a leading role in creating a more sustainable future for aviation.

Agency: DDB Unlimited

17. Geothermal For All: Energy We Can All Agree On

What if you sent an activist, musician, and volunteer climate change warrior out into the homes of climate change skeptics? This is the first ad we’ve ever seen for Geothermal energy, and they’ve set a high bar for themselves.

Agency: 180LA

16. Twitter: Me On Twitter

me on twitter

This year Twitter reminded us that it is the fun social network. The company took out ads in San Francisco and New York that highlight real tweets from users. We’ve seen five ads from this “Me On Twitter” campaign, and they’re all quirky, funny, and eye-catching.

15. Quitline: Quit for Your Pets

Before you light up, spare a thought for your pets. That’s what this ad from Quitline New Zealand draws attention to, noting that pets are 2x as likely to get cancer if exposed to tobacco smoke.

Warning: this is a tear-jerker, but it’s an important ad.

14. Sandy Hook Promise: Back-To-School Essentials

This one’s pretty tough to watch – but that’s the point. We can’t deny its poignancy so it definitely deserves a spot here as one of the year’s best ads. Fair warning, it contains content about school shootings and could definitely upset some people.

Agency: BBDO New York

13. Dublin Bus: Freedom of the City

The spot is 3-minutes long, and it’s worth every second.

There’s a one-minute cut as well if you’re in a time crunch. Don’t work too hard.

Agency: ROTHCO

12. KiwiRail: Near Miss Memorials

To stop people from pushing their luck, KiwiRail installed “Near Miss Memorials” with scannable QR codes that link to videos featuring near misses.

Want to see more great outdoor ads? We’ve put together another list of the best outdoor ads of 2019.

11. Detective Pikachu: Endless Promo

This needs an explanation, so read the story below before clicking play on the video.

We saw a great example of low cost, high reward marketing this year from Warner Brothers in their effort to promote Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.

Warner Brothers had lots of inactive YouTube and Twitter accounts and decided to test out a very low-risk marketing campaign. They created a video titled “Detective Pikachu: Full Picture” and posted it on YouTube three days before the movie premiered.

They also had Ryan Reynolds, the star of the movie and voice of Pikachu, tweet out the link and announce that the movie had been leaked.

marketing campaigns that worked

The video, of course, wasn’t actually the 1 hour and 42-minute long full motion picture, but a Rick-Roll-esque 2 hour video of Pikachu dancing after a pretty convincing opening sequence.

The video garnered 22 million views on YouTube and received 100,000+ likes on Twitter.

Millions of viewers watched and shared the video 3 days before the premiere, which is exactly what Warner Brothers would typically spend thousands of dollars on in the form of TV spots.

10. McDonald’s: McDelivery

mcdelivery ads

McDonald’s France created a great print campaign that caught our eye this week. They used a rainy day to highlight McDelivery and the images turned out fantastic.

Agency: TBWA/Paris

Side note: If you’re into Instagram, McDonald’s France is curating a pretty cool feed.

9. Microsoft: We All Win

In our minds, this was the best of the best for 2019’s Super Bowl ad spots.

Agency: McCann New York

8. Burger King: 10-Year-Old Tweets

This one requires some background. Stick with us, it’s worth it.

Casey Neistat is one of the biggest celebrities online. His YouTube channel has over 11 million subscribers, and each video he publishes reaches millions of viewers.

On January 23, 2019, he took to Twitter to try to solve a mystery.

Why was Burger King liking his tweets from 2010?

clever marketing examples

Verified accounts on Twitter can be notified when other verified accounts interact with them, and Burger King clearly got Neistat’s attention.

It left him, and the hundreds of thousands of people who saw his tweet, perplexed.

And it wasn’t just Neistat. Burger King also liked other online influencer’s tweets, including Brant Daugherty and Nadeshot, who also tweeted about the confusion.

The story went, for the lack of a better word, viral.

News outlets picked it up, YouTube creators made videos about it, and thousands of people tweeted about it. Everyone was dying to know: why?!?!

Eventually, the internet got the answer it was looking for.

great marketing examples

Okay. But the story doesn’t end here.

Neistat created a video titled “EXPLOITED BY BURGER KING” and directed the video at the social media agency working on behalf of Burger King. He brought his viewers up to speed on the mystery and asked Burger King to make it right. He suggested Burger King make a donation to the two charities he supports: The Boys and Girls Club and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which they happily contributed to (by the way, Neistat made yet another video praising them for doing so where they reached another 2.6 million people).

Almost 3 million people watched the original video, where Neistat admitted: the stunt was pretty genius. He also suggested that whoever came up with the idea should get a big raise.

Millions learned that Burger King was bringing back funnel cake fries, and the campaign cost Burger King less than an order of funnel cake fries (donations aside). Brilliant.

7. Halo Top: Ice Cream for Adults

This might be the funniest campaign of the year.

Agency: 72andSunny

6. IKEA: Famous Living Rooms

best ads of 2019

Ikea took three famous TV living rooms and made them come to life this week. They recreated the sets from The Simpsons, Stranger Things, and Friends using only Ikea furnishings…and they turned out pretty awesome. You can see the Friends set below with the tagline “For real families” in the bottom corner. Check out the other two living rooms re-creations here.

Agency: Publicis Spain

5. Aviation Gin: Gift Responsibly

Where to begin. If you subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Ad Spot, you’re familiar with the infamous Peloton ad that’s still racking up views online.

Just in case you missed it, here you go.

Ryan Reynolds, the owner of Aviation Gin, turned Peloton’s misfortune into lemonade, sharing this brilliant bit of hilarity. Aviation hired the actress from the Peloton spot and…well. The rest is history.

Agency: Maximum Effort

Note: Reynolds and Aviation Gin did a similar stunt earlier in the year that you may have forgotten about. The brand is on fire.

4. Poulehouse: l’oeuf qui ne tue pas la poule

A French egg company hatched a hell of a commercial this year. The spot aims to educate viewers on the company’s treatment of their beloved chickens. It’s great storytelling. Eggcellent, even.

At the end of the commercial, there’s a brief voice-over in French. Translation:

“Every year, billions of chickens are killed after 18 months when their egg production drops. But you can save them. At Poulehouse, we take care of our birds for their entire natural lives. Poulehouse: The Egg That Doesn’t Kill The Chicken.”  

Agency: Brand Station

3. Budweiser: Fathers Who Stepped Up

Get out the Kleenex. Budweiser brought us a tear-jerker for Father’s Day this year. It’s a great salute to all the stepfathers out there.

2. Apple: The Underdogs

This 3-minute long spot from Apple came out 2 months ago, but we just saw it this week and loved it. Thought we’d share it in case you missed it. Fantastic storytelling here.

1. Nike: Dream Crazier

Nike takes the top spot for us this year. The visuals, the star power, the writing, it’s simply superb.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Need more? Check out our favorite brand collaborations for 2019.

Written by

Justin Kerby

Justin is the founder of Something Great Marketing, leading our Vancouver marketing agency. He specializes in content strategy, website design, and branding.

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