Wall Street Journal Ranks Best and Worst Ads of 2013

Even as digital technology makes placing ads more of a science than an art, creating a successful ad remains very much a hit-or-miss business.

Samsung Electronics, for instance, has successfully taken on Apple Inc. in the smartphone business over the past few years, partly by matching the iPhone maker in the quality of its marketing. But this year a Samsung commercial was picked as one of the worst ads of the year in our annual survey of marketing executives, as were spots from Kmart and Mazda Motor Corp. One of the best ads of the year, on the other hand, came from a startup toymaker.

Some of the top executives in the advertising business gave us the following picks for best and worst ads of 2013:


Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo Inc.’s global beverages group

Best: Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram trucks

The two-minute commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl, paid tribute to American farmers with a montage of agricultural photos accompanied by a voice-over of the late radio host Paul Harvey reading his essay “So God Made a Farmer.” Agency: Richards Group

“Brilliantly and authentically executed, this is one of the most memorable, sharable and epic spots this year,” said Mr. Jakeman.

Data: The video has been viewed online more than 22 million times and has generated hundreds of media stories and mentions. Ram gained nearly a percentage point in market share between January and October, according to Chrysler.

Worst: Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The ad follows a mysterious character buying land in a desolate town, helped by his Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The man turns out to be soccer star Lionel Messi, who is building a new soccer field for poor youngsters. Agency: Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett

“The idea is bad, and it’s disguised by beautiful film,” said Mr. Jakeman. “Advertising is about great, original ideas. Not just big cinematography and big production budgets.”

Samsung didn’t respond to requests for comment.


Jeff Goodby, co-founder of Omnicom Group Inc.’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Best: Unilever’s Dove soap

A sketch artist is asked to draw women based on a description they give of themselves. Then the artist draws the women based on how someone else describes them. The ad points out how critical women are of their own looks. Agency: WPP PLC’s Ogilvy & Mather Brazil

“If only 4% of the women in the world consider themselves beautiful [as Dove claims], this lovely campaign does us the public service of reminding the other 96% about what makes them special,” said Mr. Goodby.

Data: Unilever said the ad has been viewed online more than 170 million times; been shared online more than four million times and generated hundreds of free media stories around the globe.

Worst: Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

A three-minute animated video ad that pokes fun at the processed-food industry shows a scarecrow getting a job at a food factory, where he encounters chickens being pumped full of neon liquid. The scarecrow eventually returns to the farm and makes his own food using fresh vegetables. Agency:CAA Marketing

“The films use vegetarian imagery to sell meat,” said Mr. Goodby. “I come away thinking I shouldn’t be eating meat at all, and I don’t think that’s their point.”

Data: The spot got 11.7 million views on YouTube.

“The notion that ‘Scarecrow’ uses vegetarian images to promote meat or that it discourages eating meat completely misses the point,” said a Chipotle spokesman. The ad “uses a fictionalized world to contrast some issues associated with highly processed, industrial food, and food that is farm fresh and prepared using classic cooking techniques.”


Read More at: Wall Street Journal