78 Creative Campaigns That Caught Our Eye in the Second Half of 2023

Creative inspiration for the modern marketer from the past six months

33 min readDec 15, 2023


Each Friday, Agency SOS puts out a short email newsletter with three things that caught our eye that week — campaigns, PR stunts, art installations, branded entertainment, and other inspiring bits.

Most marketers are so mired in the day-to-day on their own brands, they often miss interesting ideas from other industries. We highlight three each week and, hopefully, inspire people as they think about the next creative activation for their brand.

If you don’t already subscribe…you really should! (Listen to these people.)

Earlier, we compiled all our favorites from the first half the year. Now, here are the 78 campaigns (in chronological order) that caught our attention since July.

01. Lightly caffeinated

You can almost hear the brief: “Young people aren’t drinking tea!” So Yorkshire Tea (and agency Lucky Generals) came up with a dance floor anthem to make tea the must-have travel accessory for the summer holiday. Ridiculous…but pulled off with such humor and ear-catching charm, it actually works. “Let’s get lightly caffeinated” might be the best CTA that we’ve heard this year.

Watch the video. Read about the campaign.

03. Fighting Colonel

KFC Canada put their beloved mascot, Colonel Sanders, into the Street Fighter 6 video game, which allows “recipes” to create new playable characters. (Get it? Recipes.) Agency Courage helped bring the idea to life.

Watch the teaser video. Read about the campaign.

03. Best book covers

Design aficionados, rejoice! AIGA just released its annual awards for best book covers. 50 winners from 27 different countries.

Read about the competition. See all the winners.

04–05. Twice the ⚽️

FIFA Women’s World Cup is here and the ad campaigns are in full swing.

Nike (with help from W+K) has a big, sprawling campaign that’s a mash-up of genres and visual styles. It includes U.S. team history, highlights their current stars, and introduces top talent from the other teams. It’s a tall order (which is why the launch film clocks in at 2:30) but it’s tackled with humor and style. The individual player ads are great, too.

Watch the brand film. See the player-focused ads: Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith, Sam Kerr, Ana Hegerberg, Debinha, Grace Geyoro, and Wang Shuang Read about the campaign.

Orange, the French telecom, took a different approach to support the French team…and tackle unconscious bias. We don’t want to to spoil the surprise behind the film, so just watch it.

Watch the Orange spot. Read about it.

06–08. Thrice the 🍎

Can you make a 60-second ad out of a farmer driving a tractor straight for 102 hours? Apple did.

Watch it. Read about it.

The brand also dropped a new film in their “Underdogs” series, which might be the best product demo series ever, at this point. (It gives the reigning champion, Volvo Truck Live Test Series, a run for its money.) An 8-minute story about laptop security that’s better than most sitcoms? Yes, please.

Watch it. Read about it.

In the last few weeks, they also released new “Shot on an iPhone” films from Mexico and Turkey.

Watch ’em and read about ‘em.

09. 🥶 out with Ikea

Ikea (with help from Ogilvy New York) has a nice new chill-out campaign, targeting Gen Z. It’s a branded take on the “slice of life” anime sub-genre, featuring soothing visuals, wordless lo-fi beats and low-stakes conflict. Decor as Zen for the youngsters is a smart strategy and it’s done well here.

Watch Compromise, Study Space, and 4th Roommate. Read about the campaign.

10. Short 🍺

With the introduction of the pitch-clock, baseball games are shorter…so Bally Sports made “short boy” beers.

Watch it.

11. Mustard mash-up

Branded food mash-ups have become as popular (and eye-roll-y) as odd-scented branded candles. We here at SOS HQ strenuously resist getting sucked into their gimmicky, eye-catching charms and promised ourselves, “we’re NOT going to feature them again!”

But then…they drop mustard-flavored Skittles. And we are powerless to resist. The candy brand and French’s Mustard are teaming up in honor of National Mustard Day on August 5.

Why do brands keep releasing these abominations? Because they are irresistible click catnip for media outlets and consumers; a micro-investment has huge earned-media payoffs. As one commenter on whatever-we’re-calling-Twitter-this-week wrote, “This is absolutely disgusting, rancid, and wrong. Hey, Skittles, how can I get them?!”

See and read about the campaign.

12 Miles to go

Expedia Group (it’s a group now, did you know that?) has a new campaign (from W+K) to launch its One Key program, which works across its three brands: Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo. The minute-long anthem is a nice piece told from the POV of suitcases. The 15s pack a lot of storytelling into a short form.

Watch the anthem. See the 15s: Auntie and Work Trip. Read about the campaign.

13. Magic eye

Müller Corner, a U.K. yogurt brand (uh, excuse us…”yoghurt”) has a new outdoor campaign that employs the 90s fad of “Magic Eye” illusions. Created by VCCP London, the campaign announces the return of a beloved flavor…or, um, “flavour.”

(To be fair, we could never see the magic eye illusions back in the 90s, so we don’t have high hopes of deciphering it now. But it’s definitely an everything-old-is-new-again spin for a very traditional medium.)

See and read about the campaign.

14. Billboard play

Sneaking one more in because we love this billboard campaign for the Strong National Museum of Play by Partners + Napier.

See it and read about it.

15. Bring the funk

Treasure Cave Cheese (no, we hadn’t hear of them either) goes big and WEIRD with a new musical campaign that celebrates its “super dank” blue cheese. The spot, from agency Carmichael Lynch, features an odd collection of characters singing an anthem about the cave that gives their cheese its funk. (Yes, we recognize the tune as the “Dirty Dancing” resort theme song, too, but apparently it dates back to the1850s.)

Watch it. Read about it.

16. Something rum-derful

The “Better with Pepsi” campaign debuted back in 2021. The ads revealed the Pepsi logo hidden in fast-food burger wrappers; it was inspired, a big hit, and won a million awards. The brand is wisely reprising it for different categories and the latest is mixed drinks — they want you to know that “rum and coke” may be better as a “rum and Pepsi.”

See and read about the new campaign. See the original 2021 campaign.

17. Hot dog or legs?

This is one of those, “that’s such a good, obvious idea, I can’t believe the brand hasn’t done it before” ideas. Oscar Mayer (with agency Johannes Leonardo) takes the viral “hot dogs or legs” meme and answers, definitively, “hot dogs” in this new social and outdoor campaign.

See it and read about it.

18. Life odyssey

A 7-minute brand film by an Oscar-winning filmmaker is the definition of self-indulgent, a place only luxury brands tread, these days. But there’s no denying that this one by Damien Chazelle (and DDB Paris) for Hennessy is beautifully-crafted. The takeaway seems to be either “life is an odyssey” or “Hennessy makes you cry” but it’s probably best not to think too much about the strategy and just revel in the vibe.

Watch it. Read about it. Watch behind the scenes.

19. Movie oddities

Regal, the movie chain, wants you to go to the movies. (No surprise.) In their new campaign from agency Quality Meats, they serve up short, odd stories that play on FOMO and a nice spin on the end line, “Don’t wait for the movies to come to you.”

Watch all three ads and read about the campaign.

20. Simple absurdities

BJ’s Wholesale Club (with help from agency Terri & Sandy) has a bunch of fun new spots that build on their “Absurdly Simple Savings” platform. Nothing all that ground-breaking, but sometimes a good, simple formula that gets the brand in there, touts a benefit, and makes you smile is more than enough.

Watch Balloon Shop and Seance. Watch more and read about the campaign.

21. F.U. financial ✌🏻

Things we learned this week: the UK version of “the finger” is actually two fingers a.k.a. “the two-fingered salute” and is a sign of defiance (especially to authority), contempt, or derision.

Which means it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re launching a new financial app. But it’s what agency Uncommon came up with for Communion (the new app) and the launch spot (which launches “the F.U.nd”…get it?) has tons of attitude.

Watch the spot. Read about the campaign and see more of the brand work.

22. As seen in McDs 🍔

When you’re one of the biggest brands in the world, you don’t need to come up with a way to become part of popular culture, you can just compile all the proof of how you ARE part of popular culture. That’s what McDonalds (with help from W+K) does in this spot (and bag!)

Watch it. Read about it.

23. Uber moody 🍷

This Uber Eats campaign is a vibe and we’re here for it. The new spots from Mother London both have killer tracks that set the mood and they’re just odd enough to keep our attention. (Would have loved to been at that first creative review where they pitched “massage chair meets glass of chardonnay”)

Watch “Wine” and “Ice Cream.” Read about the campaign. See the outdoor (which is less of a vibe, TBH.)

24. Train takeover 🚇

We love a big, old-fashioned transpo-station takeover. And this one from The New York Times takes over multiple stations, because the whole train, inside and out, is the ad.

See the takeover and read about the campaign.

25. Drop your drawers

You pre-cringe before you click to watch an ad about dudes wiping their butts. So we were surprised by the charm of this new campaign by Dude Wipes (and agency Curiosity) that channels 80s-era Mentos vibes. The spot touts the benefits (“clears instead of smears”) and ends with a nice tagline: “Best Clean, Pants Down.” They also released a second ad — a take-you-back-to-preschool-to-relearn-how-to-wipe story that might be the best use of balloons in a commercial that we’ve seen in a long time.

Watch “Drop Your Drawers.” Watch “Re-Learn to Wipe.” Read about the campaign.

26. College rides

Creative use of data in marketing is a hot trend, ever since Spotify launched their popular “Spotify Wrapped” campaign in 2015. Lyft just released a new report that makes fun use of their data — a “ranking” of where college students go via the ride share app. It’s a smart way for Lyft to get into the conversation at a time of year when publications release their annual college rankings. It’s a good reminder that creativity doesn’t have to be limited to your ads and social channel; it can touch all parts of your brand experience.

See “The United States of Universities: Which college students go where”

27. If pets could sing

Rover, a pet sitting service, launched a new brand campaign (from agency Little Hands of Stone.) The delightful song-and-animation films tell a story from the pet’s POV (complete with child-like misspellings) and is full of knowing wags that pet owners will recognize. The 90-second anthem is great, but they very smartly created 11 cutdowns (:15s and :06s) to play in various channels.

Watch the anthem. See the cutdowns. Read about the campaign.

28. Hot Dog Straw

We know, we know…we’re supposed to be immune to these blatant sorta-gross branded food-mashup stunts…but look at that hot dog straw! This one from Oscar Mayer (and Johannes Leonardo) is based on a viral video from last year that horrified all decent humans. The new silicone straw is probably more hygienic than the real thing and only slightly less gag-inducing. But, hey, it’s PR catnip and a natural extension of the brand’s “Keep it Oscar” platform.

See and read about it.

29. 🤬 off, forks

KFC Canada (and agency Courage) released a new video and outdoor campaign that “apologizes” to utensils. Sorry forks et al., you are not needed when folks enjoy some finger-licking-good chicken. It’s a simple insight developed into a nice creative campaign.

Watch the spot. Read about the campaign and see the outdoor.

NOTE: Post launch, controversy erupted when it turned out that most of the outdoor in the campaign featured Black talent; the campaign was accused of racial insensitivity.

30. Sun works

When the week started, did we think we’d be writing about a new campaign from a French photovoltaic panel provider? No we did not. But this one from Solarbox (and agency Fred & Farid) is an example of “if you’re going to go high-concept, you might as well double down on that concept.” (You know you’re in “high-concept land” when you have to run a title card explaining the central premise before the ad.) It involves a tiny bell that summons Louis XIV, who was known as the Sun King and…oh just watch ‘em.

Watch Vacuum, Stereo (our fave), Shaver, and Mower. Read about the campaign.

31. Bake yourself silly

In the U.K., “The Great British Bake Off” is just called, well, “Bake Off.” And they have a new promo out in advance of their 14th season. The ad, from animation studio The Line, brings ingredients to life with a charming mix of live-action and 2D animation.

Watch it. Read about it.

32. Dreamy anniversary

Quiet can be nice. This new one for the Bellagio Hotel’s 25th anniversary (from McCann New York) is the hotel equivalent of the “car running footage spot,” but it’s done with dreamy style, not bombast, so they get brownie points. Plus, they make good use of the classical piece “Clair de Lune” (which has been associated with Bellagio since the movie Ocean’s 11) while resisting the urge to cut to the fountains.

Watch the spot and read about the campaign.

33. Turkey dude+

When you watch international ads, you appreciate how safe and predictable most U.S. advertising has become. MullenLowe Singapore has a dark and surreal new campaign that highlights the immersive experience of PRISM+ TVs and sound systems. Here in the states, there are few clients that would let you finished after you started pitching, “We open with a naked man on a kitchen countertop, getting stuffed like a turkey…”

Watch “Cooking” (the turkey one), “Concert,” and “Drama.” Read about the campaign.

P.S. FWIW, odd nudity is clickbait gold…this was our most clicked-on campaign of all our SOS newsletters this year.

P.P.S. Want more international bonkers-ness? Check out this bug spray ad from Thailand.

34. Island discovery

Portuguese wine brand Silk & Spice is doing the treasure hunt thing…sorta. Their new “Meant to be Discovered” campaign (from Lisbon agency Stream and Tough Guy) hides a bottle of their wine on a deserted island. Yes, if you find it, you can enjoy it…but that’s not really the point, of course. It’s one of those stunt-y outdoor activations that few people see IRL, but the digital video of the thing becomes the REAL ad.

Watch it. Read about it.

35. Clustomer service

Sometimes we see an ad and think, “D’oh! I wish we’d thought of that!” and the new one from Mailchimp introduces a wonderful new term that makes us jealous: “clustomer.” It’s a lovely little metaphor to communicate the main brand benefit: that you can reach your target customer with more customized messaging. Absurdist B2B advertising FTW!

Watch it. Read about the campaign, including some behind-the-scenes.

36. Trust journey

This well-crafted film is eyeball worthy. It’s for Orange (from Publicis) and it’s one of those brand films where the logo comes up at the end and you go, “Huh…that’s an ad for Orange?” So not sure it gets an A+ in terms of marketing success, but the choreography and VFX make it a beautiful piece of film.

Watch it. Read about the making of the piece.

37. Hike-thru meats

This one is a little bit experiential pop up…a little bit PR stunt…all supported by a nice digital experience that ladders to the brand’s “we have the meats” positioning. This week, Arby’s launched a new “Big Game Burger” (34% venison, 33% elk, and 33% ground beef.) So they invited fans on a 4.1-mile hike to a 10,721-foot summit in the Colorado Rockies where the brand opened (for one day only) the most remote Arby’s in the world. If you missed the stunt (dreamed up by Fallon) you can still purchase the merch or try the burger at your local Arby’s.

See the Hike-Thru site. Read about the campaign. See the reaction from those who made the trek.

38. Hope for Mother Nature?

Apple is probably the best marketer on the planet. (Yes, it helps to have more money than God, but they’re also incredibly disciplined.) Their periodic launch events are a masterclass in storytelling and branding. This week’s event launched lots of product updates and was loaded with well-produced films, but the one that got the most attention was “Mother Nature.” All corporate environmental pats-on-the-back should be viewed through a skeptical “greenwashing” eye and Apple deserves any heat the film stirred up. But they didn’t shy away from the skepticism in the film and the production and performances are as top-notch as you would expect from them.

Watch 2030 Status Update with Mother Nature.

39. Homage or harangue?

Meanwhile, online marketplace Back Market…does NOT have more money than God. So they (and their agency Gus) have to find creative ways to get attention. This week, they did so by drafting off the Apple event with a well-timed satirical campaign. They launched “The New One,” a spot that skewers the many tech-launch tropes that Apple invented…but to promote refurbished phones. A nice bit of marketing judo.

Watch “The New One.” Watch the case study-ish film. Read about the campaign.

40. Good coffee

Spill a little tea on a local coffee brand? Don’t mind if we do. Here in the Bay Area, Peet’s Coffee was one of those accounts that every agency in town tried to land at some point. “It’s coffee! It should be great!” But the truth is, for lots of reasons, it was a tough bean to crack and the advertising was largely “meh.” So color us shocked to see a new campaign for Peet’s (from agency Mischief) that’s really good! Insightful, funny, and one of the best 10-second ads we’ve seen.

Watch “Hospital” (the 10-second ad), “Birthday Cake,” “Mango Breeze” (shout out to that actress!) and “Mugs.” Read about the campaign.

41. Good spirits

Tequila brand Don Julio’s new campaign is a “love letter to Mexico,” produced in collaboration with Mexican creatives. The anthem (from agency Anomaly) was filmed throughout Mexico, marks the debut of a new visual identity for the brand, and is dripping with attitude and style.

Watch it. Read about the campaign, including the creative team.

42. Good dirt

You’re sitting in your cubicle (or wherever agency creatives sit these days) and you get told, “You’re working on the cover crop brief!” And you think, “Soil?! I have to make a campaign about SOIL?” But every brief is an opportunity to do something good and the folks at AMP Agency cooked up something delightful for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Nick Offerman is the, er, face of the campaign and his dry wit carries the day.

Watch it. Read about the campaign.

43. Good game

Creative Mike Maloney was looking for a way to showcase his chops…so he designed, animated, and coded a video game about what it’s like to work in the ad industry. Truly one of the coolest side projects we’ve seen. (And a good reminder that you don’t have to wait for an assignment to showcase your creativity.)

Watch the video. Play the game.

44. Ruthless games

“All is Fair” in this new campaign for Monopoly from Hasbro and The Martin Agency. The playful spots celebrate board game ruthlessness minus any “family fun” schmaltz. There are villains among us! Beware kid landlords and grandmas stealing cash.

Watch “8-Year-Old Landlord” and “Grand Theft Nai Nai.” Read about the campaign.

45. Rockin’ veggies

“What if we use almost-rotten vegetables to sell our appliance?” is not a strategy you see every day. Nor does said strategy usually lead to a charming 80’s-style rock opera with a zucchini as the lead singer. But that’s what Droga5 London cooked up (see what we did there?) for Phillips Air Fryer.

Watch the spot. Read about the campaign.

46. Pretzel holding

This is so dumb, but it’s the right kind of dumb, so we approve. Snyder’s of Hanover is jumping out in front of the Oktoberfest hoopla with new beer-flavored pretzel rings…and a completely made-up competition called “Pretzel Holding.”

Watch the spot. See the site.

47. Last DVD

Today, Netflix shipped its last DVD. (Yes, they still mailed DVDs.) The film (by Ways & Means) celebrates the end of an era and the company updated its marquee on Sunset Blvd with a message made from actual DVDs and envelopes.

Watch the film. See the marque and final envelope artwork. Read about the campaign. Buy the (???) sleeping bag.

48. Potato Opera

One of the creatives who made this bonkers new film for OreIda wrote it best: “Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you get to create a two-minute opera about frozen potatoes that involves a picnicking werewolf couple, a talking tree who is insecure about his artistic aptitude, and a potentially catastrophic meteor shower.”

Watch it. Read about it (and see the 15s, which are good, too!)

49. Puke, Pee, etc.

Ikea has a new campaign that’s sure to polarize. “Life is not an Ikea catalog” means that sometimes, while you’re laying on your Ikea couch, you’re barfing into a bucket. Or the dog pees on your perfect new rug. A little gross, but real life is a little gross; we like it.

Watch Puke. Watch Pee. Watch Afterparty. Read about it.

50. Marmite mix

We can’t say that we’ve ever tried Marmite, the polarizing spread, but we know that it’s, um, an acquired taste. So if you had “let’s make a sexy techno anthem with puppets to get GenZ to try it” on your Bingo card, you win.

Watch it. Read about it.

51. Monster mascot

We like the unpolished, lo-fi approach of this campaign for Dice, a ticketing app. The “blob of fur” mascot is featured in a series of films under the tagline “Weirdly Easy,” which is an off-kilter brand benefit and a fun positioning for a new brand. Also, thumbs up for the “Fur-gazi” pun!

Watch “Find your next live show” and “Connect your Spotify or Apple Music.” Read about the campaign.

52. Classic triptych

Adidas just launched a new global campaign with a trio of films celebrating their classic Superstar, Gazelle and Samba shoes. Lots of times these “brand films” are long and self-indulgent, but each of these clocks in at a tight :30 with their own stylistic approach.

Watch “Superstar,” “Gazelle” and “Samba.” Read about the campaign. See the triptych outdoor.

53. Color film

Polaroid has a new color film out called Retinex and to promote it, they’ve gone with a psychedelic 70’s-style animation to explain the complicated concept that “color is weird.”

Watch it. Read about it.

54. Island realtor 🏡

Local commercials can be wonderful. (Rhett & Link made some wacky gems over the years.) But the biggest ad agencies in the world are usually WAY too expensive to make a local ad. However, behemoth Ogilvy just dropped one for a Staten Island realtor.

It’s telling that big agencies, who chased non-profit “purpose” work to stretch their creative chops (and rack up awards), are now so over-saturated with feel-good, change-the-world campaigns, that they’re now willing to cut their rates just to do a good old-fashioned funny TV ad. And this one is pretty funny.

Watch it (or here, if that link doesn’t work for you). Read why they made it.

55. Mountain moves ⛰️

Interesting to see a brand that hasn’t advertised in DECADES get back into the ad game. Eastern Mountain Sports (with help from agency SlapGlobal) pokes fun at itself with its “Sorry About That” spot that nods to the fact that a few of their stores closed a few years back and many people thought they went out of business. The campaign has multiple components…including the introduction of (checks press release) “SpokesZipper.”

Watch “Sorry About That” and “Out West.” Read about the campaign and what’s coming.

56. Cactus time 🌵

OK, it’s not a campaign, but we love this beautiful short documentary called “The Cactus of Klaus” from our friends at Little Moving Pictures and Double Solitaire. It’s about artist Klaus Rinke, time, creativity, and, yes, cacti.

Watch it. Read about it.

57. Sad vacation

Heinz (and W+K London) made a spot about a very sad man on vacation and if we tell you what he’s sad about, we’ll ruin the spot, so just watch. (We’ve all bean there, right?)

Watch it. Read about it.

58. Ear help

Guess it’s no surprise that an earplug brand would make a very loud spot. “Shut up the Noise” is the new campaign from Loop (and creative studio PDA), which promotes their noise-reducing earwear. It’s bold and in your face…er, ears…and highlights the many scenarios where you might want to turn down the volume (looking at you, loud chewers!)

Watch it. Read about campaign and see the outdoor.

59. Bawdy brush

Marvis is an Italian toothpaste brand and let’s just say that you don’t see a lot of animated nudity in American toothpaste commercials. Or firefighters in garters. But this delightful and surprising spot (from agency LePub) is the most memorable tooth care ad we’ve ever seen.

Watch it. (The :10s are delightful, too.) Read about it.

60. Stirred, not shaken

Last holiday season, Ocean Spray (and agency Orchard) had one of the best holiday ads with their wiggle/jiggle spot. This year’s follow-up goes for stirred, not shaken.

Watch it.

61. Design 101

Whether you know a little or a lot about design, this is a really terrific video series from Oddfellows and Adobe. Each 2-minute film is narrated by an expert and the animation is beautifully crafted. Worth your time.

Watch Type, Color, and Layout. (Each link has visual development frames, too.)

62. Second first kisses

This is charming! Lip balm brand Eos (and agency Mischief) tells three couple’s “first kiss” stories…and lets them have a do-over. Very sweet, great casting, and lovely little production touches that elevate the whole thing.

Watch it. Read about the campaign.

63. Shopping missions

We really like this new campaign from Etsy (and agency Orchard.) It’s an example of a smart insight (certain people are very difficult to shop for), but the resulting work doesn’t call attention to the strategy. It just leans into an inspired creative idea — the best use of the “Mission Impossible” theme that we’ve ever heard in an ad. It’s a memorable campaign that positions the brand as a solution to your thorniest gift-giving challenge.

Watch Tim, Dad, Twins, and Niece. Read about the campaign.

64. No nut November

Um…so this one…you’re either gonna get it or not. And we want to be delicate here because, well, our MOM reads this newsletter. But there is this thing called “No nut November” where dudes agree to…yeah, we’re not going to be able to fully explain this and keep it PG. (Don’t Google it, mom.) Let’s just say that Orchard Valley (and agency Terri & Sandy) have walked right up to the line of good taste to promote their nut brand. Here’s to brave clients with a sophomoric sense of humor!

Watch the spot. See the website. Read about the campaign.

65. Home hang

We all have a million photos on our phone, but something special happens when you pick a memory, frame it, and hang it in your home. That’s the idea behind our new “Let your home tell your story” campaign for Kodak Moments. The spots tell a series of slice-of-life stories about moments you want to hold on to and that feeling you get when you display it and let it breathe life into the room. Developed by the team here at Agency SOS, we’re proud of this one and thrilled to see it out in the world.

Watch Anthem, Skate, Dad & Daughter, Family, and Camping. Read about the campaign. See all the spots and credits. Read a behind-the-scenes story.

66. Parents just don’t understand

We work with a lot of B2B brands and that means we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what various acronyms mean. So we like this new campaign for LinkedIn (from Maximum Effort) that taps into a true insight: when you work in a jargon-filled B2B category, nobody really understands what your company DOES…especially your mom and dad. Some criticized the ads as “ageist”…but we don’t think the parents are the butt of the joke; it’s the sons and daughters who blather on without any clarity.

Watch Cloud Sales & Acronym Daughter. Read about the campaign.

67–68. Maneaters & sledding grannies

Tis the season for the big, splashy U.K. holiday ads. John Lewis just released their new one (and it was the source of some anticipation as it’s the first one from agency Saatchi & Saatchi after they ended their long relationship with DDB.) It’s a charming tale about a boy who plants a Christmas tree…that turns out to be a cousin of the plant from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Watch it. Read about it.

Here in the U.S., the biggest holiday spot released this week (certainly in terms of budget…the rights to Beatles’ tunes don’t come cheap) was from Amazon. “Joy Ride” is a heart-tuggy bit of nostalgia and the song is used to good effect. (Did you know that if you want to use a Beatles song in an ad, Paul McCarthy has to see it and sign off on it? Can you imagine if you finished up your big budget spot and Sir Paul said, “Nope.”)

Watch it. Read about it.

69. Go big

Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time telling clients, “say less.” Brands get so excited about their features and RTBs (“reasons to believe,” mom) that they want to cram ALL of them into every piece of communication. So kudos to Canadian insurance company Desjardins (and agency Bleublancrouge) for finding a simple visual metaphor and letting it do the “heavy lifting.” (You’ll appreciate that pun once you watch the spot.)

Watch it. Read about it.

70. Go solo

This one speaks to our SOUL, y’all. The holidays are upon us and while togetherness is lovely, sometimes you have to escape from your family, hide in the bathroom, and run your toes through your fluffy bathmat. That’s the idea behind IKEA’s new holiday spot from agency ReThink. Plus, it’s an inspired use of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

Watch it. Read about it.

71. Go Hollywood

The actor’s strike is over and Apple just released another one of its money-is-no-object commercials to celebrate. (And to plug the fact that the iPhone camera is good enough to shoot a legit motion picture.) “There’s No Business Like Show Business” provides a nice (if out-of-tune) spine for a peek into the world of Hollywood production.

Watch it. Read about it.

72. Christmas poops

Not sure what was on your holiday ad Bingo card, but we sure didn’t have “Santa complains about his elves’ monster dumps.” Bravo to Roto-Rooter (and agency Bandolier Media) for this unexpected spot in the Animagic style of animation made famous by the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials.

Watch it. Read about it.

73. Apple gets fuzzy

Sentiment is the lingua franca of the holiday ad. But it can be a tricky formula to get right. Last week, Chevy rolled out a new one that seemed to suggest its vehicles…cure Alzheimers? (OK, maybe that’s a cynical take. But it does show the potential pitfalls of the genre.)

Apple’s new “Fuzzy Feelings” holiday film teeters toward an eye-roll, but it’s made with such craft, it largely succeeds. Even if you’ve never used your apartment to make a high-end stop-motion film with hand-felted puppets as a passive-aggressive clapback to your terrible boss (we’ve all been there)…your heart strings may still get tugged.

Watch it. Read about it. (Gasp! It doesn’t follow “best practices!”)

74. Beercracker

You either love or hate these limited-run gimmick products that brands put out. Some see them as annoying tchotchkes in the bargain bin of ad land, but we think there’s nothing wrong with a little low-cost creativity designed for the sugar rush of a PR hit. String enough of them together and you become a brand that has a sense of humor about itself. The latest from Miller Lite, which has fully embraced the strategy, is a nutcracker that opens your beer. And, yes, it’s already sold out.

Why do this stuff? Because you get news hits like this. And People magazine write-ups like this.

P.S. For another goofball brand “product” out this week, check out this ketchup racetrack from Heinz.

75. Sweet sweater swag

These “ugly Christmas sweaters” for brands were dreamed up by the amazing Ronnie Allman (Midjourney maestro and friend of SOS.)

76. Pinterest predicts

For years, Spotify has generated attention with its annual Wrapped campaign. And lots of other brands have jumped on the let’s-pull-together-our-data-in-an-interesting-way-to-give-our-customers-a-look-back bandwagon.

So we’re really intrigued by Pinterest’s play to look FORWARD. This week, they released PinterestPredicts.com, a well-produced look at emerging trends for 2024. It’s a smart way to show off the power of their platform (people use it to plan for the future and, over the last four years, 80% of those predictions have come true.) Eclectic Grandpa FTW!

Check out Pinterest Predicts.

77. Pizza plow

Domino’s has developed an “experienced by few, seen by many” approach to marketing. Not every activation has to be “mass”…they can be highly targeted. But then they turn it into a story that can be shared broadly. That’s the strategy behind their “Plowing for Pizza” program. They’re awarding $500K in snow plowing grants to ensure that customers in three states can access the pizza chain despite the wintry weather.

Read about it. Watch the promo.

78. Classic classifieds

Brooklyn-based publisher Standards Manual is releasing a new book on classified advertisements from 1970s small-town America. If you’re an ad nerd, love typography, or a nostalgia junkie, it looks like a gem.

See a preview. Order it.

Yes, 199 bonus links are too many bonus links, but here they are, nevertheless:

Start Your Engines | Assvertisers | Threads is the latest “Twitter Killer” | Happytecture | Times Square Drag | Shopping Inspiration | Tractor Beverage | The Swinging Pendulum of Design | Great Landing Pages | Space Invaders Update | Father Nature | Jodie Sweetin Sizzler | Safari Song | MSCHF does big yellow Crocs | Serendipitous Alignments | Virgin Plus | Alf Returns | Fry Funeral | Cracker Jill | Jell-O Redesign | Lucky Scarf | Dublin, OH | Maker’s Mark | Synchronized Swimmers | ‘Raise Your Arches’ Sequel | Subaru’s Silence | Solar Power ROCKS

🥪 This site is rotatingsandwiches.com and it delivers exactly what it promises.

💦 Liquid Death tastes better than (checks notes)…back sweat. Seriously.

🍕 Totinos gets weird with Pizza Brain, Ask Mom, Everything Sauce, and Toe-Tea-Nose

👋🏻 Tiny hands have been done a million times, but the new Airheads campaign breaks them out again here, here, and here.

🌐 New Vegas Sphere (Remember when it was new?)

🛏 Overstock just became Bed Bath & Beyond; it’s a smart & humble pivot for the brand. Read why. See the work: Bed Bath & Beyond is Back.

🏭 This deck from Ogilvy explains “How Agencies Work” and is a pretty good 101 for anybody curious about how the sausage is made.

Horror 💩s | We Transfer Coloring Book | Weird Barbie Gets Real | 90 Years of Skippy | Tinder Passions | Jessica Biel Packs a Lunch | Papier-Mâché Critters | Apple Pay Dance | YETI Outdoor | Paddy Power | Bank of Starbucks | David Lynch PSA | Fragmented Portraits | Welch’s OK’s Stealing | Apple Goes to the Dogs | Footlong Fanny Pack | Enjoy Irresponsibly | AirBNB Min-Worlds | Starting with WHY | $70 Magazine | How Texas Orders | Hand Heads | 100-Frame Instagram Story | Damaged Can | Chocolate Identity | Beer Cubes | Ketchup Paint | Uncrustable Canada | Instagram Creator Lessons | Close Your Mouth | Amazon Rome | No Brainstorms

🏠 This tiny spaces spot from Hornbach is a freakin’ delight.

🌯 Chipotle Dooppelgäner is one of the smartest and most creative email marketing campaigns we’ve ever seen.

📺 This is a great piece on the design of fake brands created for film and TV.

Tubi Mischief | Ceramic Commerce | Anti-Litter Campaign | Feastables Email Triumph | Delightful Reeses Social | Affleck Dunkin’ | Virtual Influencers | 8-Month Pitch 😡

🚫 This new campaign from Hiscox featuring billboard MISTAKES is really nice.

Ryan Reynolds Takes on Pumpkin Spice | FanDuel Thrill of Winning | Shrek Crocs | You Deserve Chicken | GE’s Beautiful Law | Liquid Death Glory Hole | Animated Alzheimer’s PSA | TikTok Adverts

💰 This funny campaign urges agencies to PAY their interns.

Guardian Design | Postmates Animates | Taylor Swift Condiment | Tech Billboards | Coke Zero In-Store | Disloyalty Program | In Defense of Writing | LEGO De-Stress | Pedestal Billboard | Goood Design

👩🏻‍💻 The Metaverse has come a LONG way fast and avatars are getting scary good.

Hermès Needle-Felt | Whimsical Workplace | Glover for Bose | Apple’s 90-Minute Study Session | Celebrity Whiskey | Long Live the Keg | Imposter Dogs | Car Seat | Oatly Offer | Liquid Death Chest Blaster | Arnold Intelligence | Carrot Power | New MINI | Interactive Dining | Sweden vs. Switzerland | FinTech Gymnast | A.I.RHEADS Scarefest | IKEA Halloween | e.l.f. Music Video | Craigslist Copywriting | Wife “Ad” | Glad Tidings | NBA Heist | Uber De Niro

🎁 Good piece about cringey brand social posts in The New York Times : If Every Brand Is Funny Online, Is Anything Funny?

💊 And here’s a link to a piece in The Washington Post about the queen of a pharma earworm.

🍔 This mini-doc about the time that Crispin made video games for Burger King.

💪 Career advice for advertising people: build your site, your brand, and your own work.

👀 View all the issues of Nextness (“a newsletter from the frenzied edges of A.I.”)

French Chicken Future | Paper Flowers | Deep Fakes meets Deep Steaks | Travolta Santa | Agency Wants You to Live at Work | Moist Mayo | Uber Teen | Lottery Rain | Volkswagen Life | Jameson Entrance | CCO Failure | Coke Sphere | Skirt Flirts

🥛 Read these smart insights from Kevin Lynch, Oatly’s former ECD

📱This piece in Wired promises, “Watch this Guy Work, and You’ll Finally Understand the TikTok Era.”

🎄 It’s UK holiday advert time (Britain’s annual “Super Bowl of advertising”) where new ads get prime time reveals. We like this one with the singing oven mitts. But, oof, the new one from Marks & Spencer got roasted online this week. “F#%! Christmas” is definitely not a strategy we saw coming. 😬 (Ha! They updated it because of the backlash. IMHO, it didn’t get better.)

🛢💩 Subtle this one is not! Oil execs soiling their pants. This UK promo creates an un-ignorable visual for an un-ignorable subject.

😂 Did “purpose” cancel comedy in advertising?

✍🏻 Gen Z can’t read cursive so logos are changing.

🍔 This week in burger brand collabs: McDonalds does Crocs & Burger King does FILA.

🤠 Kevin Costner doesn’t do collabs.

🍄 Gorgeous posters/social for space tea.

🧥Faux-outdoor CGI ads are everywhere, but this one from North Face is pretty good.

🤖 Visually, this is very pretty…but not sure “the robot’s hypnotic takeover” is supposed to be eye candy? And this AI Pin future seems more invasive than helpful.

📸 This is a good “demo spot” for A.I. tech that feels helpful, not creepy.

🐈 Cats are terrible.

🤦🏻‍♂️ THIS is what passes as influencer marketing now?!

🚛 “The Epic Split” is 10 years old.

👏🏻 Really like the wacky new work for this Amazon Amasongs campaign, featuring a retro choir.

🔥 Snoop went “smokeless,” the Internet freaked…and of course it was an ad campaign (for smokeless fire pits.)

👃🏼 Now you can smell like KFC.

🤯 All the strategy resources you could want in one place. (This is pretty dope.)

🎄You know, a typical holiday spot where dad turns into a Christmas tree.

🔺Doritos made it possible to silence your crunch while you’re playing video games.

🥪 This “trailer” for the Uncrustables “movie” is a year old but we just saw it this week.

🌊 Landor rebranded.

🎨 Favorite sites for graphic designers.

🥛 Oatly “hacked” Parisian outdoor…but this post calls b.s. (More context here.)

💉 When you turn your label into a tattoo template.

😬 Are strategists going to lose their jobs to ChatGPT? Harvard has some thoughts.

🎶 It’s Spotify Wrapped season. See the designs.

🆙 Mischief makes the ad agency “more extra.”

🇸🇪 IKEA debuts turkey-sized meatball for the holidays.

🐢 Chocolate turtles issue “speeding tickets” at the mall.

🐓 You can now order a single McNugget.

🗓️ Reddit shares what popped on the platform in 2023.

🎙️ What’s the right way to do a podcast ad read?

🍑 Pantone color of the year: peach fuzz.

🎄 Fixmas promises “the gift of repair.”

🔐 Cheat codes for challenger brands.

🎨 Portrait paint.

📈 Instagram’s Gen Z trend report for 2024.

🧋McDonalds new “beverage concept” spin-off.

🐨 Outback’s creepy Christmas koala.

👽 MoonPies targets aliens.

🍎 Apple has outdoor “in the bag” (and if you click on this link, you’ll appreciate that pun.)

⚾️ Tom Brady does baseball.

🔎 On its anniversary, Google recaps 25 years of search.

💪 VooDoo Ranger made the strongest can of IPA (literally.)

🏀 NBA plays with toys to promote Christmas games.

⚠️ Doritos thinks we want nacho cheese-flavored booze.

🗓 Good countdown from Vicki Ross about 23 2023 campaigns she liked.

😀 Emojis get real (and terrifying.)

📢 A recap of A.I. tools specifically for ad land.

🏫 Harvard Business Review has advice on “the right way to build your brand.” (Spoiler: make a promise.)

🔮 The joy of decks! A collection of 132 (and counting!) slide decks with predictions for 2024.

💡 Advertising job search advice from our founder.


15 Favorite Ad Campaigns of 2023


98 Things That Caught Our Eye in the First Half of 2023


Top 10 Favorite Campaigns of 2022

85 Things That Caught Our Eye in the Second Half of 2022

79 Things That Caught Our Eye in the First Half of 2022


John Kovacevich is a creative director and the founder of Agency SOS. He writes a weekly email highlighting three bits of creative inspiration for modern marketers. You can subscribe, if you’d like.