The 2013 Joshys: The #1 Commercial Of 2013

#1: Robinsons “Pals”

And here it is. The best commercial of the year. I’d never heard of Robinsons, a British drink company. And I was confused why they were adding water to their juice. But what an ad. What appears to be a nice spot featuring two young friends turns out to be much, much deeper. This was an ending I didn’t see coming. And something that really makes it great is watching it again and observing the subtle Sixth Sense-esque clues. The one boy throws rocks further. His shadow is bigger. He gets tired pushing his friend. He encourages his friend to talk to a girl. Of course, it’s because he’s the dad as well as a pal…which makes the Star Wars “I am your father!” reference even more amusing. A spectacular and poignant ad with a surprise ending is a well-deserved #1 of 2013.

The 2013 Joshys: #4-2

#4: Vodafone’s “The Kiss”

Simply beautiful. There’s no spoken copy and sometimes the less said, the better.

#3: Tullamore Dew

This Tullamore Dew ad made me want to jump a plane to Ireland. And the twist ending turns it from melancholy to weirdly uplifting and subversively funny.

#2:. Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow”

Lovely dystopia sounds like an oxymoron, but that describes the atmosphere for the majority of the video. Wonderfully shot. Fiona Apple’s hypnotic and haunting cover of “Pure Imagination” is the best use of music in advertising this year.

The 2013 Joshys: #7-5

#7: Guinness’ Wheelchair Basketball

Friendship exemplified. I’m a sucker for surprise endings, and this spot has a good one. Friendship and twist endings will continue to loom large as the list goes on.

#6: Kmart’s Ship My Pants

Immature, punny, and also the funniest commercial of the year. I can only imagine the “eureka” moments the writers had with it. Kmart also had followups with “Big Gas Savings” and the Dickensian holiday version “Ship My Trousers”, but the original was the best.

#5: Dick’s Football

Dick’s Sporting Goods had two great commercials this year with a similar, ultra-realistic style. The first was a baseball ad, the second for football. Honestly, it was a bit of a tossup, but I think I liked the football spot a little more. A friend who played high school football said it gave him flashbacks.

The 2013 Joshys: #10-8

#10: Mike’s Golf Shop

Mike’s Golf Shop slips in at the #10 slot in large part due to how low-budget this commercial is. Shot by Mike on his phone, it basically cost nothing, and still has racked up 400,000 views on YouTube. Not bad. The “we buy golf clubs” becomes a hypnotic mantra along the lines of “Head On: Apply directly to the forehead!” And the halting start with “This here’s Mike! Down at Mike’s Golf…Shop” cracks me up.

#9: Geico and Dikembe Mutombo

OK. Geico’s “Hump Day” was one of this year’s best-received, most viral, and most meme-worthy ads. But as a sports fan, I actually enjoyed this one a little more.

#8: The Anti-Defamation League Imagines

There’s possibly no question more haunting than “what if?” Still, the lessons we learned from these inspirational figures who were cut down because of hatred will continue to guide us into the future.

The 2013 Joshys: Just Missed The Cut

Here we are near the end of the year, and so it’s time for the 3rd edition of The Joshys. In previous years, I avoided an overdone top 10 format, and instead went with some more interesting awards and categories. This year, I’m doing a top 10. Whatever. As always, the only requirement is that I must have written about each ad for it to appear on the list. That means some qualified candidates (The Epic Split and Camp Gyno, for example) didn’t make it. Before diving into the best of 2013, I’m going to mention five commercials that just missed the cut. These aren’t in any particular order.

Foot Locker’s “All Is Right”

I have a special appreciation when people are able to poke fun at ridiculous incidents from their past.

Coca-Cola: Here’s To Falling

An extremely cute and innocent ad about two young people “falling” at a Six Flags. The great “here’s to falling” tagline would prove unfortunate months later when a woman fell to her death off a Texas Six Flags roller coaster. Apparently, the ad was still being played in movie previews days later. Oof.

New Era’s Jackie Robinson Tribute

A quiet, classy, and moving tribute to an American hero.

GoPro’s Kitten Rescue

Oh man. This one made me so happy when I watched it, and then so bummed when I did a little digging into the aftermath. Nevertheless, it’s great work.

Honda’s Hands

I had kind of forgotten about this Honda ad, so I had to watch it again. Very simple and very compelling.

The 2012 Joshys: Part III

The Timothy Leary Award: The trippiest commercials. You might not have been on drugs, but these made you feel like it.

Winner: The Skittles Walrus

It’s trippy, alright. The connection to Skittles Riddles is pretty out there and pretty damn tenuous.

Honorable mentions: Axe’s Office Love: Very polarizing.

Old Spice’s Terry Crews ads: Whoa. The definition of a guy commercial.

The Boner Award: Sexiest of the year. I look at analytics for this blog and know that the audience is like 65% male, so I’m going to include a lot of honorable mentions too. If you’re a female reading this and want to suggest a commercial with sexy men, feel free.

Winner: Anything with Kate Upton.

Now a 2-time winner of this prestigious category. I just really like Kate Upton.

Honorable mentions: Adriana Lima for Teleflora and Fiat’s Seduction: Both Super Bowl commercials. I remember being unimpressed with both of them, though in retrospect, the Fiat ad is better than I remember. The Teleflora commercial has a decidedly non-progressive message which many objected to.

Samsung Work Trip and Liquid Plumr Double Impact: Both on here for the suggestiveness. Samsung’s is more subtle and sly while Liquid Plumr’s is a solid minute of obvious, ridiculous, and amusing innuendo.

The Traffic Awards: The posts that brought people to Commercial Society.

Ragu’s Long Day Of Childhood

This one premiered during the Olympics. I remember seeing it and knowing I needed to get something up really quick. Within an hour, it had something like 4,000 pageviews. The next day (August 6) Commercial Society had slightly more than 18,000 pageviews, with the Ragu spot accounting for close to 15,000. By far the busiest day ever. And the Ragu post was WordPress.com’s #1 post of the day…out of more than a million posts!

The Wendy’s Redhead Saga

The original post about the Wendy’s redhead (Morgan Smith Goodwin) is the most popular in Commercial Society history. People REALLY like her. This one has almost 77,000 pageviews. 4 of the top 7 posts on my blog are ones from this campaign.

And that wraps up The 2012 Joshys. Hope you enjoyed it!

kate upton carl's jr

The 2012 Joshys: Part II

The WTF? Award: The commercials that I watched numerous times to figure out what just happened.

Winner: Brad Pitt and Chanel No. 5

Ridiculous and pretentious. Brad Pitt’s wistful acting is decidedly not Oscar-worthy. And primed for parodies.

Honorable mentions: Henry and Aaron’s Central Institute of Technology: This Aussie video is WTF? worthy for an entirely different reason. It’s just awesome and totally unexpected. Probably a great recruiting tool for kids who would want to go to tech school.

Oxy’s Exploding Pimples: Yeah, it’s disgusting. And yeah, these are probably cysts which are more serious and should get medical attention. But the juvenile side of my personality is quite amused.

The “Aww” Award: Simply put, commercials that will make you say “aww.” A decent amount of overlap with The Field of Dreams Award.

Winner: Google Chrome’s “Jess Time”

Google can really pull at the heartstrings. Here, a father and daughter help each other adjust to life’s changes. Sweet, genuine, and just nice.

Honorable mentions: Subaru’s Rainbow and 200,000 Miles: Both ads from Subaru’s “Love” campaign, which seems like it could be a constant contender in this category. The rainbow commercial (titled “Looking for Gold”) captures a father and young daughter in a whimsical and adorable moment. “200,000 Miles” is also cute, but has a deeper meaning about random events and how they can change our lives.

Nike Free “I Would Run To You”: This one had some mixed reviews, as many thought it relied on the formula of an incompetent man (who reminds me of myself) and a super-competent woman. But personally, I find it cute, romantic, and funny. Love will make people do silly and irrational things…maybe even run cross-country. The song is very catchy too.

Purina’s Rain Rescued Cat: If you love cats, you’ll love this one.

The Beautiful Award: Most beautiful visuals in an ad.

Winner: Getty Images “From Love To Bingo”

Sometimes the best stories don’t need any words at all. Love it. From Brazil.

The Explosions in the Sky Award: The most epic of the year. And yeah I know, “epic” is totally overused now. Sorry.

Winner: Audi’s “Ahab”

The first time I saw this commercial, I was like “Well, that was cool, but I feel like I’m missing something.” Then I realized that the whole ad is an homage to Moby Dick (it is called “Ahab” after all). The wide-open vastness of the landscape and lonely narration of the forlorn truck driver makes this one a winner. Manly as hell, too.

Honorable mention: Canadian Paralympics “Unstoppable”: Unstoppable is the right word.

The 2012 Joshys: Part I

December is a time for year-end lists/awards and here at Commercial Society, I have my own…The Joshys. Just on a personal note, it’s been a memorable year for me. In late June, I moved to New York City to try to pursue my goal to be an advertising copywriter. The combined effects of being busier and lack of cable have meant that I haven’t updated the blog as much as I used to, but I’m still definitely going to keep it active. Now, a few things about The Joshys. I’ve kept most of the same awards from last year (which you can see here). Every award winner must be something I’ve covered on the blog. This eliminates some potential winners. Sorry. And there’s quite a bit of overlap between categories, but a commercial can only be mentioned for one. Without further adieu…

Campaign of the Year: DirecTV’s “Don’t”

This was a pretty clear-cut choice for me. Consistently funny and unexpected. There were a lot of spots in this Grey campaign, but I think the Phil Shifley one was the best/my favorite. Here’s the first ad and the one with Charlie Sheen.

The Don Draper Award: Best commercial of the year. These are the ads that make people want to go into advertising. The hardest category to pick a winner.

Winner: Wideroe “Grandpa’s Magic Trick”

Read the short description of this award. When I first saw this Norwegian commercial, I thought “THIS is why people want to go into advertising!” A beautiful setting, stellar acting, and a clear and smart message. Magical.

Honorable mentions: The Guardian’s Three Little Pigs: Compelling is the best word.

MLB 12 The Show “Cubs Win”: One of the best representations about the ecstasy and resignation of being a sports fan. Incidentally, the 2012 Cubs were one of the worst teams in franchise history.

Axe’s “Susan Glenn”: Maybe the best copy of the year. A huge departure from Axe’s usual lunkheaded marketing strategy. It’s a great commercial, but one that might make you squirm a little bit, as you’ll inevitably think about all the Susan Glenns in your life.

ESPN/This is Sportscenter “John Clayton”: If you watch ESPN, you know about nerdy football expert John Clayton. The alternate reality of him being a sloppy metalhead who lives with his mom is hilarious.

The Houston Van Gogh Award: These commercials were so annoying that they made me want to gouge my eyes out and/or cut my ear off. Or at least change the channel.

Winner (loser?): Target’s Back To School

Gahh. At least the back to school nature of these commercials meant that they weren’t on for too long. I have no idea how these spots have gotten positive reactions on YouTube.

Dishonorable mention: 5-hour Energy Pink Lemonade: 5-hour Energy has horrible advertising, and this sucks too. Dishonorable mention in this category for the 2nd year in a row. The fact that some of the proceeds go to breast cancer and the singer isn’t terrible-looking redeem this one a little. A little.

The Field of Dreams Award: Field of Dreams is a movie that is known to make grown men cry. This award goes to those tearjerker commercials that have the same potential.

Winner: Dick’s “Father’s Day”

Beautifully shows the father-son bond. The lengths that the father goes to see his son succeed and the gratitude in the end.

Honorable mention: Expedia “Find Your Strength”: Honestly, this is more of a pure tearjerker, especially since it’s a true story. The only thing that keeps it from winning is that it’s a longer-form, online video and not a commercial that would be shown on broadcast TV.

Stay tuned for Parts II and III.

phil shifley

The 2011 Joshys: Part III

Parts I and II

The Joshy Grammy Award: Best music in a commercial. These were good ads to start with, but the music took them over the top.

Winner: Buick LaCrosse’s “Garage” featuring “Stars” by Girls Love Shoes

Dashboard looks very nice, voiceover is smooth and informative, and the commercial is stylish all around. But man, the song bumps. “Stars” has been near the top of my Spotify most-played list for a few months now.

Honorable mention: Captain Morgan’s “Ride Home” featuring “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop

Festive, fun, and catchy are a good combination…especially for a summer commercial.

The WTF? Award: The commercials that I watched numerous times to figure out what just happened.

Winner: Old Spice’s Fabio campaign

Bizarre, and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Apparently Old Spice then had a battle between Fabio and The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, but by that point I stopped paying attention.

Honorable mention: Walmart’s “Yodeling Cat”

The “Yodeling Cat” is creepy and weird. The original is only on YouTube, but clips of it have been used for a current Walmart TV commercial.

The Wild Cards: These commercials didn’t really fit into any of my categories, but they still deserve recognition.

State Farm’s “Empire State of Mind”

Directed by Spike Lee, this would be a strong contender for commercial of the year. Stirring, powerful, and both solemn and triumphant.

Nissan Frontier’s “Landing Gear” and Hyundai Elantra’s “Fog and Smog”

I thought these were both stupid ads, but they were this year’s #1 and #2 posts on my blog, in terms of views and comments.

Well, that’s the conclusion of The 2011 Joshys. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m going to be heading to New York City through New Year’s, so I’ll try to update occasionally, but it won’t be as often.

The 2011 Joshys: Part II

Part I

The Don Draper Award: The coolest of the year. Advertising like this is what makes people want to go into advertising.

Winner: Heineken’s “The Entrance”

Cool visuals, a cool song by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (not Avril Lavigne…), and just overall full of fun swagger.

Honorable mention: Anything else Heineken.

The Durr Award: The dumbest of the year. A very competitive award. Crap like this makes people hate commercials.

Winner (loser?): The stupid Fiat commercials with Jennifer Lopez.

Gratuitous and lame. The one with the dancing is worse, though J.Lo “driving” though the Bronx was terrible too. Especially since it was a body double in the Bronx.

Dishonorable mention: Miller Lite’s “Man Up” campaign and Coors Light’s bar exam spots.

American megabreweries have a low-brow reputation and commercials like these play right into it. Miller Lite isn’t manly. And I thought it was amusing how the Coors Light bar exam ads were played endlessly in the summer, when real law school grads were fretting over the real bar exam.

The Timothy Leary Award: The trippiest commercials. You might not have been on drugs, but these made you feel like it.

Winner: “Heart’s Desire” from Sonic

Love it. Trippy as all hell, this seems like it could be either a drug-induced fantasy or maybe just a fat person’s fantasy. Influenced by The Big Lebowski. The song is really catchy too.

Honorable mention: The Toyota Prius “People Person” commercial. Weird stuff.

The Field of Dreams Award: Field of Dreams is a movie that is known to make grown men cry. This award goes to those tearjerker commercials that have the same potential.

Winner: Johnson & Johnson’s Hospice Nurses

Either of Johnson & Johnson’s other nursing spots could have won, but the “Hospice Nurses” ad had the most personal impact on me.

Honorable mention: “It’s Time” from Get Up!

One of the best defenses of marriage equality that you’ll ever see.

The Onion Award: Best satirical commercial.

Winner: Toyota Venza’s “Social Network”

A very funny campaign. And it’s nice to see that the Facebook generation can take a joke as well as we can dish them out.

Honorable mention: Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing”. People who camp out for consumer products are morons.

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