My 10 Favorite Ad Campaigns of 2022
Highlights include delightful musicals, a tilting world, great comedy dialogue, and a bevy of can-related campaigns
When you put out a marketing creativity newsletter every Friday, it forces you to keep tabs on all the new ad campaigns that come out each week.
Looking back at everything that caught my eye in 2022, here are my top 10 favorites. (Of course, we’re proud of the work OUR agency did this year—especially like this campaign we did for Ooma—but this is a celebration of stuff from other shops.)
1. Rosemary Health
This little gem of a campaign for Rosemary Health came out in March. Since it’s for an Australian brand, I’m not sure how much of a splash it made Down Under, but IMHO, it never quite got the attention it deserved here in the states.
The campaign from Milk + Honey features an absolutely charming earworm of a song and the claymation-eque animation is loads of fun.
Watch the musical ad, see the out-of-home, and read about the campaign.
If you’re looking for a brand that was the runaway winner for marketing creativity over the last two years, the title probably goes to Heinz. (From Draw Ketchup to Hot Dog Pact to Spoon Fries to to Ridiculously Late to Vintage Drip, the brand embraced a wonderful “let’s try it!” approach.)
Our favorite activation in 2022 might have been Heinz AI Ketchup, from agency Rethink. The new artificial intelligence text-to-image programs are taking over the internet (like DALL-E) and you’re sure to see a bunch of ad campaigns using or inspired by the tool. But this is probably the best brand-use of it we’ve seen so far: to make the point that even our robot overlords think Heinz = ketchup.
Read about it (and see some of the social ads.)
The production-value-of-the-year award goes to this gorgeous spot for UK home improvement chain B&O (by Uncommon Creative Studio.) It’s one of those amazing I-can’t-believe-they-shot-that-practically-without-any-CGI visual stories that you want to watch more than once. And Bowie for the soundtrack!
Watch the spot. Read about it. See the behind-the-scenes to see how they pulled it off.
4. Ocean Spray
When this ad came out in October, the advertising community lost their collective minds, so it’s likely to show up on lots of best-of-2022 lists.
It’s a spot (from agency Orchard) about cranberry sauce. Yep…cranberry sauce. It jiggles. It wiggles. So do the people in the spot. It’s weird and wonderful—a haven’t-seen-that-before creative execution grounded in a smart strategy.
Watch the spot. Read about the campaign. Hear the song. See the outdoor. See the 10-hour holiday fireplace version. Admire the strategy.
We love a funny campaign built on a rock-solid, dirt-simple insight.
This one for Meineke was grounded on a clear idea: teach people how to pronounce their name. (Spoiler: it’s how a German would pronounce “my key.”) The series of ads is a delight, thanks in no-small-part to a phenomenal performance by the lead actor.
The good folks at Erich & Kallman are masters at this stuff: finding a good joke, mining it completely, keeping the spots focused and funny, and casting it perfectly. (Their “Take 5” campaign is another favorite; some of the best :15s of the year.)
See and read about the campaign.
I would have loved to have been at the meeting when agency Alto pitched Upwork, “Our first idea is a musical anthem featuring a rotting corpse CEO.” Kudos to the brand for understanding that if their talent platform really is a “new way of working” you can’t communicate that with the “old way of advertising.” And “absurdist zombie musical” is definitely a “zig” while the other’s “zag.”
Watch the full anthem ad. See the playlist of all the spots. Read about the campaign.
7. Hippo Insurance
Hippo Insurance launched a fancy, big-budget spot (from Preacher) to launch their 2022 campaign, but I loved these simpler, funny ads from Partners in Crime. They are probably the best comedy dialogue spots of the year and the edit on the porta-potty one is particularly great.
Watch the porta-potty spot. Watch the spot with the kid. Read about the campaign.
When a 53-year-old, well-known brand rolls out their first mascot, it’s a bit of a risk. But I really like what Nerf (and The Martin Agency) unveiled earlier this year. The toy brand birthed Murph, an anthropomorphic character made entirely out of Nerf darts.
This fave from a few years ago was probably in the mood video used to sell the idea. And, yes, it owes some of its DNA to Gritty, which was my favorite campaign of 2018.
Who knows if the “launch controversy” was real or manufactured. It got the Internet talking (and they apparently approved…or did they?) I love that a major toy brand embraced the weirdness of it all.
Here’s some behind-the-scenes detail. Adweek did a deep dive on the mascot’s origin story.
Everybody remembers the Coinbase ad from the Super Bowl this year. But the behind-the-scenes controversy, the complete lack of craft, and the fact that crypto might actually be a pyramid scheme keep it far from my list of favorites.
When I looked back at the “big game” spots, my favorite was the 90-second version of the Pringles spot from Grey New York. It has the humor and scope you want from a I-spent-my-whole-life-with-a-Pringles-can-stuck-on-my-hand ad. And the so-obvious-but-so-perfect track sets just the right tone.
(Pringles also had the bonkers “branded spider” campaign this year. It was a good year for the can o’ crisps.)
10. PBR, Tito’s & The City of Chicago
OK, this might be a little bit of a cheat, but how about a three-way tie for tenth? They’re all canister-related, so judges will allow it. 😉
PBR started 2022 with an infamous brand tweet, but this was our favorite thing they did this year. It deserves recognition for the pun alone since “Easter Keg Hunt” was an idea just sitting there, waiting to be discovered. Kudos to PBR (and Callen) for bringing it to life.
Watch the video. Read about the hunt.
It seems like every alcohol brand is introducing a seltzer, right? So thumbs-up to Tito’s vodka for zigging while the others zag…but also zigging, too. They jumped on the trend by not jumping on the trend with this just-pour-our-vodka-into-a-can-with-your-own-seltzer promotion. The campaign from Arts & Letters has humor, earned media, and an idea that celebrates the product, all in one.
Watch the ad. See the site. (The long-scroll, long-copy site is definitely worth checking out.) Read about the campaign.
And finally, there’s this smart, fun campaign from the city of Chicago (and local agency Quality Meats) to brand their local tap water as “Chicagwa.” The effort includes a limited canned edition, outdoor, and signs reading “Proudly serving Chicagwa on tap” for local restaurants to display.
See the video. Read about the campaign (and see some of the out of home.)
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Did we miss your favorite marketing campaign of 2022? Leave a comment below, drop a link, and share your favorites. We’d love to see ’em.
If you REALLY want to go crazy, here’s everything that caught our eye in the first half of 2022 and here’s everything from the second half.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.