The earth has finished it’s 365 day-trajectory so it must be time for our roundup of best of 2017.  It’s been an interesting year to say the least. Strained international relations, Hollywood scandals and the most divisive Star Wars movie since The Phantom Menace. But what’s been stirring up a storm on our TVs and monitors? Video marketers have not been without their own brushes with controversy in 2017. With a trend of social commentary in advertising emerging alongside the usual crop of comic viral shenanigans.

Apple: Earth – Shot on iPhone

This stunning user-generated advert features an array of visual treats from around the world. All gathered from real iPhone users, complimented by a lofty voiceover provided by astrologist Carl Sagan. Presented like a video art installation this advert certainly showcases the beautiful image quality of the smartphones camera. Through a selection of crisp forests, beaches and mountains, but also conveys a strong environmental message in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement. Apple CEO has accompanied the campaign with a very vocal criticism of the President’s decision, in a bold move to align the company with a popular ideology and against an unpopular President. We doubt that this politicized marketing will lose Apple much custom, but it gains them some serious kudos.

Mail Chimp: Mail Shrimp

Now enough about saving the planet, let’s have a sandwich. Mailchimp’s “Did You Mean Mailchimp?” campaign, created out of Droga5 New York, is one of three completely barmy ads created by those cheeky monkeys at MailChimp. According to the agency, the campaign aims to position MailChimp as a “beacon for not blending in.”. As a result we find ourselves in a Wes Anderson-inspired sorting office where a young mail boy is being serenaded by his shrimp sandwich. Because, why not?. The idea centered on research that found people regularly mispronounce or screw up the brand’s name. In a series of videos each more ludicrous than the last, MailShrimp’, ‘KaleLimp’ and ‘JailBlimp’ harness the power of the misnomer made famous by The appeal of the shrimp was made clear when the ad was named one of three Grand Prix winners by the Cannes Cyber jury. Top marks to Mail Chimp for indulging in a healthy dosage of surrealism. Or is it SnailPimp?

Coca Cola: Pool Boy

Coca-Cola puts a modern spin on its iconic 1994 “Diet Coke Break” commercial by having a brother and sister both lust after the shirtless pool boy in its latest ad. Made without dialogue for an international audience the ad follows the hijinks of the siblings as they fall over each other to deliver their offering of love in the form of a bottle of coke, only to be pipped to the post by mother. “Let’s face it, Mom always knows better, and she not only got to the pool boy before them both, but she also fixed a sandwich for the guy,” said Rodolfo Echeverria, global VP of creative and connections at Coca-Cola. “It’s a human story, and Coca-Cola is at the center.” With over 5 million views on YouTube and winning high-praise from the LGBT community this marks a progressive direction for the soft drink company, but the key is to remain authentic. “We are managing culturally relevant messages organically within our spots not as the main subject of the story but as sub-text.” said Ali Brubaker, senior manager of global brand PR for the company. A hilarious romp through a truly modern day suburbia, Coca-Cola is refreshing in more ways than one.

Nike India: Da Da Ding

When it comes to dramatic impact, Nike India win hands down in 2017 for this powerful celebration of women in sport. Following dynamic female-centric campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ and ‘Race for Life’ Da Da Ding harnesses the adrenaline rush that only a good workout can provide.  Among the ad’s stars are national hockey player Rani Rampal, surfer Ishita Malaviya and Indian film actress Deepika Padukone (a former national badminton player). “Sport in India has a massive image problem, particularly for women,” says Mohamed Rizwan, creative director at creative agency Wieden + Kennedy India. This represented an interesting challenge for a client like Nike. “What we set out to do is give it a complete makeover by making it cool, accessible and fun.” Filmed over the course of six days and with a cast of 150 women the ad is an explosion of rhythm and colour, and testament to the power of the super-slick edit. ‘Da Da Ding’ garnered over 2.5 million views online and went on to win a well-deserved Cannes Gold Lion before being removed from Youtube by Nike under mysterious circumstances.

Budweiser: Born the Hard Way

Meanwhile in 2017 the self-proclaimed King of Beers, so American that it replaced its name with the word “America” on its labels last year, found itself at the centre of a furious US political row following the release of its epic Superbowl commercial. Budweiser’s immigrant origin story “Born the Hard Way” about founder Adolphus Busch’s journey from Germany to St. Louis played on the country’s biggest stage days after thousands of immigrants were prohibited from entering the country by President Trump’s controversial travel ban. What merely seemed topical for some become intolerable for many loyal Trump supporters who subsequently took to Twitter with the hapless #boycottbudwiser hashtag. Budweiser went on become the fifth most watch ad for the year, receiving over 28 million views on Youtube and weeks of free publicity amidst the heated debate, despite their protests of innocence.  “This is a story about our heritage and the uncompromising commitment that goes into brewing our beer. It’s an idea we’ve been developing along with our creative agency for nearly a year.” Ricardo Marques, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s VP for Budweiser, said in a press release. Whatever its true intentions “Born the Hard Way” is undoubtedly a masterpiece of short filmmaking and the soft sell, as well as serving as another reminder that modern advertisers can’t escape issues that sit on the public consciousness no matter how much they may wish to sit on the fence. Fortunately, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

So, what do we foresee for 2018? One thing’s for sure, we’re yet to see the ‘new technologies’ of interactive, vertical and 360 video come to the fore. Perhaps the new year will see these fads start to fade away. We’ll certainly be seeing fewer traditional depictions of gender across the board. Due to the Advertising Standards Agency ruled to ban ads with ‘unacceptable stereotypes.’ And with international and sexual politics continuing to dominate social media we think we’re only seeing the beginning of activist-advertising. These days everyone from ice-cream to timber companies needs to have a strong social message. Whether they align themselves left or right one thing’s for sure, if advertisers enter the debate they need to brace themselves. 2018 viewers won’t keep their opinions to themselves.

So, if you’re considering using video to help your business thrive, get in touch and see what we can do for you.

James Dec 21st, 2017

About James Sampson

James is Creative Director at Skylark Media. He was assistant director for the likes of Casualty and Doctor Who, where he honed his knack for combining compelling storytelling with stunning visuals alongside production management. In his spare time he draws and paints, as well as storyboarding, editing and directing music videos for up-and-coming musicians.