Most of us have never known life without advertising. Around the 1970s, people saw around 500 ads per day. These days, we’re exposed to an estimated 5,000 ads per day.

Aside from a cynical customer base, most ads fail because they’re neither creative nor captivating enough.

The challenge facing modern marketers is delivering evocative and original adverts to increasingly cautious consumers. In the days of marketing automation, customers reward brands that attract them rather than bombard them.

To show this, we’ve gathered six ads from 2017 that were too good to ignore. These examples illustrate the key tactics leading brands use to craft ads that deliver results.

Whether you’re using traditional paid media, promoting content to drive conversions, or using sponsored posts on social, ads are an effective way to amplify your marketing strategies.

Why? Because showing beats telling every time.

Here are six of the best ads of 2017 so far – and why they work.

1) Airbnb

Acceptance starts with all of us. #WeAccept

Powerful ads often reference current affairs to make an impact.

Here’s an Instagram advert from Airbnb that addresses the need for acceptance of people from all locations and lifestyles. Drawing its inspiration from recent political events, the travel app rallies goodwill around the #WeAccept hashtag to show their support. Doing so radiates positive attention to Airbnb and predicts future revenues from increasingly value-driven consumers.

To effectively capitalize on an emotional atmosphere, brands should align themselves perfectly with consumer sentiment.

If done wrong, you get the devastating Pepsi Fiasco. If done right, you engage the hearts and minds of your audience to create lasting feelings of brand loyalty.

2) Slack

This Facebook-sponsored post from Slack alludes to a popular meme to remind us how showing your creative (and crazy) side wins viewer attention and garners shares and likes. Since Facebook is an informal space, breaking convention with the absurd and the humorous is effective.

Comparing the benefits of your platform to riding free and easy through the clouds will definitely entice people to learn more. Ads like this are a great way to expand your organic reach, especially for the purposes of brand awareness and consideration.

3) Wendy’s


Free advertising is the best advertising, especially when it’s facilitated by your competitor on social media.

Here we see Wendy’s use Twitter to call out McDonald’s for promoting ambiguous health claims. Originators of the “Where’s the Beef?” campaign, Wendy’s is unafraid to question the industry leader about product quality.

“We responded within an hour or two of their post and ran with it. We moved a little media around to make sure [the tweet] got attention on it so it wasn’t just a post.”

– Brandon Rhoten, VP of Wendy’s and Head of Advertising and Media

This truth-talk ultimately netted billions of impressions, many from McDonald’s followers. Wendy’s succeeds both in differentiating itself as the healthy choice, while also positioning itself as a credible friend of consumers.

Social media is an open forum that hinges upon authenticity, so it’s key to focus on genuine interactions if you want to position yourself well and see results.

4) Denny’s

A scavenger hunt is a great way to drive engagement for your brand. Denny’s is no beacon of health, so asking viewers to inspect their food drips with irony.

However, the diner chain makes good by the popular meme of inviting followers to zoom in on a photo. Spoiler alert: there’s a promo code for savings hidden in the butter.

Promise your audience a surprise with a simple command, and watch interactive engagement levels soar. Since 90% of young adults use social media, this is especially effective when trying to appeal to cash-strapped millennials.

5) Mr. Clean

Everyone knows that sex sells, and this ad proves you can make anything desirable with a bit of imagination.

Last Super Bowl, household disinfectant Mr. Clean got a serious face and body lift. The cheeky video shows a formerly mundane product made sexy and humorous.

But wait, it gets better!

To intrigue viewers, Mr. Clean released teasers across social media in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. On gameday, the preceding buzz was enough to earn the cleaning product almost 12,000 mentions across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Creating a sense of anticipation made sure the ad time was worth the spend.

Marketing automation is a cornerstone for marketers seeking to enhance the impact of their adverts. If coordinated within a cross-channel strategy like Mr. Clean, ads become powerful magnifiers that enable marketing strategies to drive optimal results.

6) Burger King

This one might come off a little strong, but you can’t deny that it grabs your attention. Burger King sears their print ad campaign into viewers’ memories by showing real BK locations on fire. It’s a risky, authentic and self-deprecating campaign – but it’s effective. The headline “Flame-grilled since 1954” is a vivid way to depict commitment to their signature flavor and remind viewers of their longstanding history.

“People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”

― Jonah BergerContagious: Why Things Catch On

Studies show it’s the strength (not the type) of emotion that creates responses in people. So cater to emotion by creating strong imagery that ties in with your brand history. This will ensure your ads leave a mark with the audience.

The Last Spot

The most effective ads of 2017 (so far) are inverting consumer expectations, appealing to emotion, and maximizing the power of social media.

Video remains the strongest channel for creating distinctive narratives, whether lighthearted or heart-racing by design. Catering to the want for truth and compassion is effective, and brands succeed by acting authentically in the marketplace. Lastly, the impact of humor, fun and sheer novelty cannot be understated.

Maximize your advertising budget by crafting unforgettable spots that position your brand as unique within an endless sea of ads. That’s advertising done right in 2017.

Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.

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