About the author : Daniel Griffith

Daniel is an Author, Designer, and Entrepreneur. With over 10 years of industry experience, Daniel utilizes his unique blend of mathematics and poetry, engineering and creative thinking to solve both technical and business challenges to ultimately co-create the world he wants to live in.

What makes a successful ad campaign? Is it sales figures, cultural approval, scoring an ad slot during the SuperBowl?  Advertising is an ever evolving industry that follows the cycles of our lives, the economy and pop culture.  So when I stumbled upon the top 100 advertising campaigns of all time put out by Ad Age, I was shocked at what I saw.

Here’s a summary of the top 20.

  1. Volkswagen, “Think Small”, Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1959
  2. Coca-Cola, “The pause that refreshes”, D’Arcy Co., 1929
  3. Marlboro, The Marlboro Man, Leo Burnett Co., 1955
  4. Nike, “Just do it”, Wieden & Kennedy, 1988
  5. McDonald’s, “You deserve a break today”, Needham, Harper & Steers, 1971
  6. DeBeers, “A diamond is forever”, N.W. Ayer & Son, 1948
  7. Absolut Vodka, The Absolut Bottle, TBWA, 1981
  8. Miller Lite beer, “Tastes great, less filling”, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, 1974
  9. Clairol, Does she…or doesn’t she?”, Foote, Cone & Belding, 1957
  10. Avis, “We try harder”, Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1963
  11. Federal Express, “Fast talker”, Ally & Gargano, 1982
  12. Apple Computer, “1984”, Chiat/Day, 1984
  13. Alka-Seltzer, Various ads, Jack Tinker & Partners; Doyle Dane Bernbach; Wells Rich, Greene, 1960s, 1970s
  14. Pepsi-Cola, “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot”, Newell-Emmett Co., 1940s
  15. Maxwell House, “Good to the last drop”, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather, 1959
  16. Ivory Soap, “99 and 44/100% Pure”, Proctor & Gamble Co., 1882
  17. American Express, “Do you know me?”, Ogilvy & Mather, 1975
  18. U.S. Army, “Be all that you can be”, N.W. Ayer & Son, 1981
  19. Anacin, “Fast, fast, fast relief”, Ted Bates & Co., 1952
  20. Rolling Stone, “Perception. Reality.”, Fallon McElligott Rice, 1985

Notice anything?  My initial thought, was,”Wow, I remember all of these campaigns.”  It’s what I noticed next that caused me to pause.  With all of the strides in technology, innovation and product development, in the top 20 ads, not one of them was created after 1988.  It’s 2011.  Has advertising as a whole not progressed since the late 1980’s?

I scoured the top 100 ads, the most recent ad out of the top 100 ads in history was developed in 1995. The ad “This is SportsCenter” created by Widen & Kennedy in 1995 was for ESPN Sports.  The oldest ad, “99 and 44/100% Pure” by Proctor & Gamble for Ivory Soap was created in 1882!  Before cars, smartphones, the intern and the television, this campaign was so successful that it remains in the top 20 ads of all time.

Our culture is swimming in ads. We see and hear them all around us, everyday.  They coerce us into purchasing items we may not need and going places we’ve never been.  Tell us your favorite ad, and perhaps it will make the top 100 list in the future.