The power of stories: TED spreads the advertising love

For some, advertising is an irritating intrusion to be avoided at almost all costs. But every once in a while a great campaign comes along that gets everyone talking. And for the third year, TED has compiled a 10-strong list of Ads Worth Spreading, honouring ads in just this vein.

Teams made up of one renowned TED speaker and one rising star from the advertising industry work together to nominate ads across specific categories. And ad industry long-timers act as advocates and also make nominations.

Last year, TED even released a report about the whole shebang, highlighting a couple of seismic shifts in the ad industry.

“We learned that, first and foremost, ads must be driven by ideas. It is no longer enough to repeat the pour shots, bites and smiles that have defined a large portion of advertising to this point. Brands must create wonder and find their place within the larger cultural conversations. We also found that if ads are going to convey a message, agencies must untether themselves from the notion that it can only come in a 15- or 30-second spot (though the audience made it known when they felt the videos were too long).

“Ads must be thoroughly integrated into the social media landscape – videos are posted on YouTube, then tweeted and shared on Facebook. The post-production conversation is an essential part of the discussion between brands and consumers. And if there’s going to be a conversation, brands should have something to say.”

The power of narrative also came to the fore, with some of the most successful ads driven by a central character who told a simple story.

“As story has become central, we have seen the emergence of the documercial, an ad that extends to two, three and even four minutes. These ads hold on to viewers through character and story arcs that were previously the domain of ‘serious’ media. It may also be a smart investment to create an ad that will continue to attract searches long after it is no longer being actively promoted.”

Enjoy this year’s winners, and share your favourites in the comments.

“Find Your Understanding”
Brand: Expedia
Agency: 180 L.A

“Security Cameras”
Brand: Coke
Agency: Y&R Argentina

Brand: Dell 
Agency: Y&R New York

“Follow the Frog”
Brand: Rainforest Alliance
Agency: Wander Films, Los Angeles

“A Dramatic Surprise”
Brand: TNT
Agency: Duval Guillame, Antwerp Belgium

“Meet the Superhumans”
Brand: Channel 4
Agency: 4 Creative, London

“The Crowd”
Brand: Glaxo Smith Kline
Agency: TBWA, London

“The Farmer”
Brand: Dodge Ram
Agency: The Richards Group, Dallas

“Three Little Pigs”
Brand: The Guardian
Agency: BBH: London

“Dumb Ways to Die”
Brand: Melbourne Metro Rail 
Agency: McCann Melbourne; Melbourne Australia

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