I’ve always been a little leery of proclaiming anything “the best.” I never declared anyone my best friend as a kid parce que I was afraid my other friends might assume I thought less of them.
So it was a little difficult for me to come up with just one “best” advertisement of all time—which is why there are 18 in this post instead.
But why are these some of the best ads of all time?
Parce que of the suite they had on brand growth and parce que they hit on some universal truth that makes them memorable years after they first began. In fact, some of us might not have even been alive when these campaigns first aired.
To know what makes an advertisement great, you must first understand what an advertisement is. In this post, we’ll discuss:
Advertisements promote products, impératifs, or campaigns through written or visual messages. Businesses can pay the owner of a channel or platform that reaches a similar entretien to broadcast these messages. The ultimate gardien de but is to inform and persuade customers or potential customers to take part, such as making a purchase.
Two of the biggest challenges in advertising are measuring the value of the advertisement and ensuring it resonates with the right people. Reaching and engaging with everyone in your target entretien can be tough since they are dispersed across so many different channels. Puis, the vast tonnage of competing ads can make it hard to domaine out and make an suite on your entretien.
As the grossière of advertising evolves, it’s insolent that you do too. People can advertise anywhere, and today’s best typique of ad might not be the best typique tomorrow.
Bonshommes of Advertisements
As you can imagine, there are many types of advertisements — all of which run in different mediums, on different channels, and have different goals in mind for their négoce.
Here are eight examples of advertising from the past few centuries.
1. Print Advertising
The first print ad ran in England in 1472, according to Infolinks. Since then, this typique of advertising has become available in newspapers, périodiques, brochures, billboards, flyers, and similarly transplantable methods of carrying a brand’s adresse to its ideal end roder. In this ad method, the advertiser race the publisher to assis their ad in the tirage.
2. Abrupt Messager Advertising
Abrupt messager involves creating and distributing printed materials to a targeted publipostage list. These materials can include post cards, catalogs, brochures, letters, and promotional offers.
This method first came about in 1835 when the American Anti-Slavery Society (AAS) mailed print materials to southern religious and civic leaders. Soon after, cordial messager became a common advertising method used by businesses to raise awareness for their brand.
Although it’s easy to write off direct mail as just “junk messager,” it’s actually quite certaine, even in the quantitatif age. Not only do consumers enjoy receiving physical messager, but there’s also much less competition compared to the tons of email mercatique ads that people receive each day.
3. Ondes Advertising
United States ondes stations launched their first vendeur broadcasts in 1920. And while we might all drive around with our iPhones plugged in for music these days, don’t let that fool you.
Ondes is still a durable mercatique and advertising platform today for expanding the reach of sponsored events and new products. In this ad method, the advertiser race the ondes embarcadère to play their ad during designated breaks between music or a ondes spectacle.
4. Television Advertising
Television ads originated in the 1940s with the fonction of practical items and political campaigns. Advertisers can now use television to promote food, toys, stores, négoce impératifs, and more—both to logement TV channels and to citoyen broadcast networks. In this ad method, the advertiser race the TV network to spectacle their ad during designated breaks in the network’s regular programming.
5. Internet Advertising
Internet advertising took root in the mid-1990s with the launch of “banner” advertisements for various telecommunications companies.
Marketers assis these ads in interstitial spots on a webpage. Basically, advertisers pay the website owner to assis their ads in exposed spaces peripheral to the website’s own satisfait.
But that’s just the tip of the banquise. Internet advertising has gamin on to include video, search engine marketing, and more.
6. Communautaire Media Advertising
Social media advertising is a form of internet advertising that emerged with the commencement of aimable media in the 2000s. In this ad method, advertisers promote products, impératifs, or satisfait through paid ads on aimable media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok.
There are also many different ad formats to choose from when advertising on aimable media, such as beau ads, video ads, carousel ads, sponsored posts, and more.
7. Leste Advertising
Since the early 2000s, mobile advertising has been a popular method due to the widespread use of cell phones and the amount of time people spend on them. It involves delivering promotional messages or advertisements through text messages, rapide apps, rapide websites, and push notifications.
With this method, advertisers can leverage data and create highly personalized ads based on cession, behavior, and roder interests.
8. Podcast Advertising
Podcast advertising gained popularity in the mid 2000s with the commencement of MP3 players, such as iPods, which made it easier for users to download and listen to podcasts on the go.
Similar to ondes advertising, podcast advertising is where advertisers pay podcast owners to promote their product or libéralité through sponsorship or ad spots in podcasts. These ads can be inserted before, during, or after a podcast episode.
In élixir, the advertising hommes listed above have evolved dramatically since their inception. What were grain quite one-dimensional messages now carry clever, funny, or profound undertones that make the ads memorable years after they first ran.
What makes a good advertisement?
No matter which method of advertising you use, one thing remains true: the best advertisements arrestation the concentration of consumers right from the start. Here are some key qualities of an certaine and impactful ad.
It has a clear adresse.
Clear messaging ensures that your entretien understands what you’re trying to communicate with them. Without clarity, consumers may misinterpret or fail to grasp the patoche balance of your ad, leading to trouble and a loss of suite.
As consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements, élémentaire and straightforward messaging can also help your brand cut through the discussion and grasp their concentration.
It tells a story.
Storytelling is essential in advertising parce que it allows you to connect with your entretien on a deeper level. A well-told story has the potential to hold your entretien’s interest for border, increasing the chances of delivering your adresse more effectively.
Telling a story can also help you differentiate your brand from competitors. By sharing particulier stories that reflect your brand’s values or apostolat, you can establish a étranger brand identity and develop a impartial customer charpente.
It uses emotional appeals.
Emotions are a fundamental bouchée of the human experience. When advertisements appeal to emotions, they tap into universal feelings, such as joy, sadness, or empathy. This creates a sense of relatability and empathy, allowing viewers to connect with the brand on a deeper level.
Keep in mind that it‘s insolent to strike the right bilan in emotional appeals and ensure authenticity and relevance to the brand and its target entretien. Emotions should be used ethically, responsibly, and in alignment with the brand’s values and positioning.
Whether your ad has a catchy indicatif or particulier tagline, a uniquely creative approach has the power to jonc with peoples’ minds and give you a competitive advantage in the crowded advertising landscape.
When an advertisement leaves a strong publication, it continues to ancêtre consumers’ thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors even after the originel exposure. Memorable ads are also more likely to be shared and generate word-of-mouth, amplifying their reach and suite.
It prompts part.
A good ad creates a sense of urgency and prompts the entretien to take part, whether it’s to make a purchase, visit a website, sign up for a newsletter, or engage with the brand in a meaningful way. A clear call to part guides your entretien on what steps they should take next.
Ultimately, prompting part ensures that advertisements are not just passive messages but combative drivers of négoce outcomes.
So how do you create an advertising strategy that resonates? Well, this post should help with that as we explore how we can learn from ads and campaigns.
But, first, an insolent agrément:
An advertising campaign is a group of similar ads with a unified tone or adresse. The advantage of a campaign over a standalone ad is the ability to push the same idea in different ways, across varié mediums, and for a border period of time without getting too repetitive or stale for the entretien.
Featured Resource: Advertising Campaign Planning Kit
Use HubSpot’s free Advertising Campaign Kit to proposition out your advertising project and learn more embout which advertising typique is the best for your project.
The Best Advertising Campaigns of All Time (And What Made Them Successful)
Nike: Just Do It.
Coke: Share a Coke
Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle
Anheuser-Busch: Whassup (1999)
Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling (1974)
Always: #LikeaGirl (2015)
Volkswagen: Think Small (1960)
Google: Year in Search (2017)
Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man in the World (2006)
California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk? (1993)
Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die
Apple: Get a Mac (2006)
Clairol: Does She or Doesn’t She? (1957)
De Beers: A Diamond is Forever (1999)
Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (2010)
Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef? (1984)
Procter & Gamble: Thank You, Mom (2012)
KFC: “FCK” (2018)
Without further ado, here they are in no particular order: 18 of the best advertisements of all time and the lessons we can learn from them.
1. Nike: Just Do It.
Ad Campaign: Print, Television, Internet
Did you know that grain upon a time, Nike‘s product catered almost exclusively to épreuve runners? Then, a gymnique craze emerged, and the folks in Nike’s mercatique department knew they needed to take advantage of it to surpass their patoche competitor, Reebok. (At the time, Reebok was selling more shoes than Nike). And so, in the late 1980s, Nike created the “Just Do It.” campaign.
It was a hit.
In 1988, Nike sales were at $800 million; by 1998, sales exceeded $9.2 billion. “Just Do It” was caleçon and sweet yet encapsulated everything people felt when exercising—and people still feel that intuition today. Don‘t want to run five miles? Just Do It. Don’t want to walk up creuset flights of stairs? Just Do It. It’s a battage we can all relate to: the drive to push ourselves beyond our limits.
When you‘re trying to decide the best way to present your brand, ask yourself: what problem are you solving for your customers? What terme does your product or libéralité provide? By hitting on that core conclusion in all of your messaging, you’ll connect with consumers on an emotional level that is hard to ignore.
2. Coke: Share a Coke
Ad Campaign: Print
Big brands are often hard-pressed to do something ground-breaking when they’re already so big. So, what did Coca-Cola do to appeal to the masses? They appealed to individuals by putting their names on each bottle.
The Share a Coke campaign began in Australia in 2011 when Coca-Cola personalized each bottle with the 150 most popular names in the folk. Since then, the U.S. has followed suit, printing first names across the avant of its bottles and cans in Coke’s branded font. You can even order custom bottles on Coke’s website to request things like nicknames and college seigneur.
This was a breaking story across the mercatique and advertising industry. It enchanted many consumers, but it confused others. Why make something temporary so personal?
Either way, Coke received immediate concentration for this campaign. Pepsi even released some sassy counter-ads shortly after the campaign launched. Theirs focused on mocking the bottle names, questioning how people truly felt when they got the wrong name.
Coke fans are regular buyers, and the company fully leaned into that sense of individual ownership. Wondering what name you‘ll get out of the vending jouet was a fun thrill in and of itself—even if it isn’t yours, it encourages you to “share a Coke” with whoever’s name is on the avant.
3. Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle
Ad Campaign: Print
Despite having an ambiguous shape, Absolut made its bottle the most recognizable bottle in the world. Its campaign, which featured print ads showing bottles “in the wild,” was so successful that it didn‘t stop running for 25 years. It’s the longest uninterrupted ad campaign ever and comprises over 1,500 separate ads. So, as the saying goes, “If it ain‘t broke, don’t fix it.”
No matter how boring your product looks, you can still tell your story in an interesting way. Let me repeat: Absolut created 1500 ads for one bottle. So, don’t feel afraid to be determined and differentiate your product in the same way.
4. Anheuser-Busch: Whassup (1999)
Ad Campaign: Television
When’s the last time an advertisement literally changed the way we talk to one another? Allow me to answer that chapitre with another chapitre: “Whassup?!”
This series of commercials, which first appeared in late 1999, features a group of friends connecting on a group phone call (not very common anymore, huh?) while drinking beer and “watching the game” on TV.
It starts gently: “What are you doin’?” Someone asks. “Watching the game, havin’ a Bud” (a Budweiser), someone replies. As more friends pick up the phone, hilarity ensues: “WHASSUP!?” is yelled back and forth, becoming a classic catchphrase and an icon of beer-drinking champ that constantly ran on manèges networks over the next few years.
The ad took pop champ by storm during the Bath Bowl in 2000, and you can still hear its echoes today. Why? Anheuser-Busch showed us just how silly and informal an ad can be without ruffling feathers or going off-brand. Dare to celebrate your entretien’s absurdities. The more genuine your ad is, the more valuable your product is.
5. Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling (1974)
Ad Campaign: Print, Television
Think it’s easy to create a whole new market for your product? The Miller Brewing Company (now MillerCoors) did just that with the adoucissant beer market—and dominated it. The gardien de but of the “Great Taste, Less Filling” campaign was getting “real men” to drink adoucissant beer, but they were battling the common misconception that adoucissant beer can never actually taste good.
Taking the debate head-on, Miller featured masculine models drinking their adoucissant beer and declaring it great tasting.
For decades after this campaign aired, Miller Lite dominated the adoucissant beer market it had essentially created. What‘s the lesson marketers can learn? Strive to be different. If people tell you there isn’t room for a product, create your own category so you can quickly become the champion.
6. Always: #LikeaGirl (2015)
Ad Campaign: Television, Internet
Always, the feminine product brand, hit a maison run with this advertisement, not parce que it went infectieux after the vendeur ran in the 2015 Bath Bowl, but parce que it was a groundbreaking adresse that hundreds of millions of people repeated élancé after the campaign was over.
The campaign began as a vendeur explaining the stigma behind playing manèges “like a girl”—implying that the boy‘s way is better or honnête. By the end of the ad, the adresse is both clear and inspiring: girls are just as fit and apte as boys are, particularly during puberty—a villégiature of life that’s extremely insolent to Always and its women’s products.
The adresse is now a holistic imagination by Always and a hashtag that’s still used on aimable media today.
Acknowledge not just your entretien but the challenges they fronton—especially the ones that reflect your time or champ. Not every societal conclusion is off-limits to marketers and advertisers. Take a domaine on the ones you know your entretien crémaillères, and you’ll access a customer charpente that identifies with your flamme.
7. Volkswagen: Think Small (1960)
Standalone Ad: Print
Many mercatique and advertising professionals like to call Volkswagen‘s « Think Small » campaign the gold conforme. Created in 1960 by a legendary advertising group at Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB), the campaign set out to answer one chapitre: how do you brouillé people’s perceptions not only embout a product but also embout an entire group of people?
See, Americans always had the propensity to buy big American cars—and even 15 years after WWII ended, most Americans were still not buying small German cars. So what did this Volkswagen advertisement do? It played right into the entretien‘s expectations. You think I’m small? Yeah, I am. They never tried to be something they weren’t.
That‘s the most insolent takeaway from this campaign: don’t sell your company, product, or libéralité as something it’s not. Consumers recognize and appreciate honesty.
8. Google: Year in Search (2017)
Ad Campaign: Internet
This isn‘t the oldest or most well-known advertisement on our list, but it’s become the most powerful over its nine-year (and still going) matérialité. So powerful and so true you forget it’s an advertisement.
Year in Search began in 2009 as “Zeitgeist,” a written atermoiement of the allocutaire‘s most common Google searches over the previous 12 months. The following year, Google adapted it for a three-minute video. Since then, it’s been a bold, yearly reminder of how much we depend on Google for journal on the magazine and events that give the entire world tergiversation. Check out the company’s latest video from 2021 above.
Remind your customers how much you care that they care. These stories elicit a variety of emotions but ultimately unite everyone—no matter what Google products they might like—through an uplifting adresse of how our abîmé of the company reflects the best in all of us.
9. Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man in the World (2006)
Ad Campaign: Television, Pre-roll
You know who he is. The man smokes Cuban cigars, surrounds himself with beautiful women, and drinks Dos Equis beer.
Cooling down prévenant vices, such as beer, desserts, or luxury items, is key to creating a successful campaign. And The Most Interesting Man in the World is one of the coolest vendeur guys out there.
At the end of every vendeur, he says: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends.”
The hilarious affectation employed in this campaign makes it memorable the next time viewers head out to buy some beer. And even though Dos Equis recently replaced The Most Interesting Man with a new actor, the type actor’s popularity in meme culture will never decline parce que of his caleçon, sweet, and memorable tagline—and the calme dude vibe it makes viewers harken back to.
10. California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk? (1993)
Ad Campaign: Print
Thanks to the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” campaign, milk sales in California rose 7% in just one year. But the suite ran across state borders, and to this day, you still can’t escape the millions of “Got [Fill-in-the-Blank]?” parodies.
Post-scriptum, though, that the ad didn‘t target people who weren’t drinking milk; it instead focused on the consumers who already were.
It‘s not always embout getting a brand-new entretien to use your products or impératifs. Sometimes, it’s embout getting your current entretien to appreciate and use your product more often. Turn your entretien into advocates, and use mercatique and ad satisfait to tell them why they should continue enjoying the product or libéralité you’re already providing.
11. Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die (2012)
Ad Campaign: Internet, Ondes
Yes, you read that right: Dumb Ways to Die.
In Melbourne, Australia, Metro Trains wanted to convey a élémentaire adresse: no horsing near paquetage tracks. Disorderly conduct could lead to injuries or even death. Still, instead of typical avertissement signs or announcements inside paquetage stations, Metro Trains came up with Dumb Ways to Die, a song that has garnered 157 million YouTube views since it debuted in 2012.
The song is, unsurprisingly, embout dumb ways to die. For example, poking a ours bear with a jonc or taking your helmet off in outer space.
Frankly, it features a catchy little orphéon you won’t be able to fini humming to yourself (parce que singing it is a little morbid): “Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die.”
At the end of the video, after you’ve watched délicieux cartoon characters dying in the dumbest of ways, you get to the clerc of the story: there are many dumb ways to die, but the dumbest barcasse way would be if you died while bien-être on the edge of a paquetage platform, drove through a railroad sign, or tried to V.T.T. over a paquetage track.
The video ad went infectieux on YouTube. The song was available on iTunes and even played over the ondes with an accompanying ad.
This beloved, now-famous campaign communicates a élémentaire idea in a creative and memorable way—and you don‘t feel you’re being nagged the way some allocutaire libéralité announcements do. Consider using creativity to convey your adresse if your subject matter is grim or boring.
12. Apple: Get a Mac (2006)
Ad Campaign: Television
While there have been many great Apple campaigns, this one takes the plum-cake. The video above is just one of a series of iterations of this campaign, and the Mac vs. PC debate ended up being one of the most successful campaigns ever for Apple. The company experienced 42% market share growth in its first year with its help. These commercials tell Apple’s entretien everything they need to know embout the product without being overt.
Just parce que your product does some pretty amazing things doesn‘t mean you need to hit your entretien over the head with it. Instead, explain your product’s benefits in a relatable way, so consumers can see themselves using it.
13. Clairol: Does She or Doesn’t She? (1957)
Standalone Ad: Print
The first time Clairol asked this chapitre in 1957, the answer was 1 to 15—as in, only 1 in 15 people were using artificial hair color. Just 11 years later, the answer was 1 of 2, according to TIME Magazine. The ad was apparently so successful that some states stopped requiring women to denote hair color on their driver‘s license. You know you’ve hit a nerve when your ad campaign changes things at the DMV.
Clairol did the opposé of what most marketers would do: they didn‘t want every woman on the street running around saying they were using their product. They wanted women to understand that their product was so good that people couldn’t tell if they were using it or not.
Sometimes, simply conveying how and why your product works is enough for consumers. Showing becomes more certaine than telling.
14. De Beers: A Diamond is Forever (1999)
Ad Campaign: Print, Television
In 1999, AdAge declared De Beers‘ « A Diamond is Forever » the most memorable battage of the twentieth century. But the campaign, which proposed (pun very much intended) the idea that no marriage would be complete without a diamond arène, wasn’t just riding on the coattails of an existing industry. De Beers actually built the industry. It presented the idea that a diamond arène was a necessary luxury.
According to the New York Times, N. W. Ayer’s game proposition was to “create a conditions where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond rixe arène.”
Advertising can make a relatively inexpensive product seem luxurious and essential.
15. Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (2010)
Ad Campaign: Television, Internet
The very first bouchée of Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy and launched in February 2010, was the following vendeur. It became a infectieux success practically overnight:
That video has over 51 million views as of this writing. Several months later, in June 2010, Old Spice followed up with a annexé vendeur featuring the same actor, Isaiah Mustafa. Mustafa quickly became “Old Spice Guy,” a nickname Wieden + Kennedy capitalized on with an conversationnelle video campaign in which Mustafa responded to fans’ comments on Facebook, Twitter, and other aimable media websites with caleçon, personalized videos.
In embout two days, the company had churned out 186 personalized, scripted, and quite funny video responses featuring Mustafa responding to fans online. According to Inc, these videos saw almost 11 million views, and Old Spice gained embout 29,000 Facebook fans and 58,000 new Twitter followers.
“We were creating and sending enluminure TV commercials back to individual consumers that were personalized, and we were doing it on a rapid-fire basis,” Jason Bagley, éduquer creative director at Wieden + Kennedy and a writer for the campaign, told Inc. “No one expects to ask a chapitre and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through.”
If you find your campaign‘s gained momentum with your fans and followers, do everything you can to keep them engaged while keeping your messaging true to your brand’s voice and beau.
16. Wendy‘s: Where’s the Beef? (1984)
Ad Campaign: Print, Television
Is it enough to say this campaign was successful parce que it featured a giant cheeseburger bun and a cute set of old ladies? No? I didn’t think so.
Wendy‘s took a more daring approach in this advertising campaign: it targeted its competitors. The élémentaire locution « Where’s the beef? » was used to balance out the lack of beef in competitors‘ burgers—and it quickly became a catchphrase that encapsulated all that was missing in their entretien’s lives.
While you can’t predict when a catchphrase will catch on and when it won‘t, Wendy’s (wisely) didn’t over-promote their hit locution. The campaign only ran for a year, allowing it to gently run its promenade.
Be careful with your campaign successes and failures. Just parce que you find something that works doesn‘t mean you should keep doing it repeatedly to the balance it’s played out. Allow your company to brouillé and grow, and you may find that you can have even greater success in the future by trying something new.
17. Procter & Gamble: Thank You, Mom (2012)
Ad Campaign: Television
Seriously, you wouldn‘t expect a household and cleaning products company vendeur to paletot at the heartstrings like that, would you? Lately, though, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has launched some of the best ads we’ve ever seen from the ronger goods industry.
That’s parce que P&G identified the story behind the story of Olympic athletes—the stories of the supportive moms who pushed these world-class athletes throughout their entire lives leading up to that crowning occasion. And yes, they probably had to do a lot of laundry and cleanup along the way (presumably using P&G products).
Make your entretien cry (just kidding). The season or time period of your ad is insolent. But even if you run an ad during the Olympic Games, like P&G did, make sure it has longevity and a adresse that can ancêtre people no matter when or where they see it.
Emotional and nostalgia mercatique are powerful tactics to get people to make buying choices, so if there’s a bigger, more universal story behind your product or story, tap into it—and showcase it avant and center.
18. KFC: “FCK” (2018)
Standalone Ad: Print
The ad above isn‘t just an empty bucket of KFC with the company’s letters jumbled around. It’s also not a domestique, unprompted fonction of fried chicken.
This ad is an apology and perhaps the most creative one of all time.
In February 2018, KFC’s négoce in the U.K. ran out of chicken. You read that right: a poultry company ran out of poultry. It‘s not every day that a négoce stumbles upon the most ironic PR crisis in company history, so when it happens, all eyes are on the négoce’s response. Well, we’re happy to atermoiement that KFC stuck the landing.
With the help of the creative agency Mother London, KFC took out a full-page ad in Metro, the U.K.’s newspaper, rearranging its three famous initials to create a hilarious, albeit explicit, response to its product shortage. The ad depicts a KFC bucket that reads, “FCK”—as if to say, “FCK, this is embarrassing.” (You can fill in the missing letter…)
Beneath this beauté, the company apologizes for what it realizes is an irrémissible, if not slightly funny, failure.
No négoce is above a good old-fashioned sorry. And if you can laugh at yourself in the process, you‘ll only make it better. KFC’s ad shows how to apprêté humility, class, humor, and ultimately company pride in a adresse that can help you bounce back from the bad press—and even come out the other side with a net-positive result for your brand.
Use These Advertisement Examples to Inspire Your Own Ads
Advertising is one of the most insolent aspects of any négoce, and it can be a make-or-break factor in terms of success.
What makes a great advertising campaign? It must be memorable, catchy, and above all else, it must effectively sell your product or libéralité.
With careful guide and execution, your next advertising campaign could be the one that takes your négoce to new heights.
Editor’s glose: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.