TED Picks The Best Ads Of The Year

TED Picks The Best Ads Of The Year

The Ads Worth Spreading Initiative pairs TED speakers and advertising professionals in a competition and report.

Plus Aziz
  • 10 september 2013

The most innovative advertising oftentimes offers a unique, framed response to culture. By doing so, it provides a given brand with a social mirror, helping it communicate to the relevant constituents in a thoughtful manner. We all know this; what we don’t know is: what exactly compels us to share an ad? As more branding professionals attempt to provide an answer to this question, TED has partnered up with media analytics firm Ace Metrix and paired up TED speakers with ad professionals to identify and evaluate the best the industry has to offer.

TED’s Ads Worth Spreading aims to “find ads that communicate ideas with consumers in the same way that TED wants to communicate with its audience.” Below is a round-up of the various ads featured in their report linked below.

Social Good: Follow the Frog for The Rainforest Alliance

This fast-paced ad works to create an awareness of The Rainforest Alliance’s icon, a non-profit advocacy group partnering with numerous CPG goods including coffee, tea, cocoa products, bananas…etc. According to the report, the ad addresses “slacktivism” and a generation’s disinterest and sense of helplessness in solving the world’s macro-problems, “The spot is in part a play on the desire of digital media consumers to participate despite a lack of time, ability or expertise on the issue. What would happen, the video asks, if you saw something so compelling that you decided to take drastic action?” The ad is incredibly clever, simple was written, directed, narrated, and edited by filmmaker Max Joseph.

Talk: The Farmer for Ram Trucks

This ad demonstrates an optimal harmony between words and visuals. It showcases a popular monologue by Paul Harvey that was broadcast during his radio show in the 80’s. The report recognizes the ad for how it directly engages the listener in a way not unlike a TED talk.

Education: Three Little Pigs for The Guardian and Annie for Dell

Education is no longer simply about doing well in school, but about going above and beyond to reach the point of enlightenment. The report highlights two ads in this section; Annie demonstrates how a schoolgirl’s ambition led her to make the most out of her laptop while Three Little Pigs demonstrates the power of “open journalism” and how knowledge sharing and open discussion can mobilize civic response to controversial national affairs.

Brand Bravery: Security Cameras for Coke and Dumb Ways to Die, an Australian PSA

It takes guts to side with the consumer. Today’s world is filled with controversy but there’s a difference between companies that aim to shock and those that leverage the momentum of shock value for strategic foresight. TED’s report calls out Coke’s Security Camera ad for approaching the political topic of surveillance into an opportunity to showcase acts of kindness, bravery and friendship. The report goes on to state that the ad “turned the idea of ‘security’ on its head: The cameras were passive witnesses to citizens ‘securing’ each other.” The report also highlights an Australian PSA that exemplifies bravery in the way they embraced dark comedy.

Cultural Compass: The Crowd is My Only Drug by GSK and Find Your Understanding for Expedia

These ads work to define a cultural moment. This moment can be an intimate moment in the life of an individual or a collective moment in mass culture. In this category, we see GSK promoting its antidoping services in an ad that’s tied to the ‘Olympic moment’. The intention is to convey how the games are clean and that the competing athletes’ buzz comes from the audience’s cheers, not from stimulants or doping medications. The Expedia ad is mentioned here because it captures the intimate journey of a father who travels to join his Lesbian daughter for her wedding. This definitive moment captures the tenderness of a relationship and underscores an emotional note that travel experiences oftentimes deliver.

Creative Wonder: Meet the Super Humans for the Paralympics and Daily Dose of Drama for TNT

The benchmark for advertising quality has only gotten more demanding. It means a lot when an ad attains the status of being ‘sharable’ because it means that the audience’s attention can quickly be converted into an action on behalf of the brand. The ads below gave people something to talk about; whether it’s how incredibly ‘super human’ Paralympic athletes are or ‘wow, I can’t believe TNT chose to communicate in that way’ these ads poke at the audience’s sense of amazement.

TED’s Ads Worth Spreading Report

TED Ads Worth Spreading


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Fitness / Sport
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Nike Takes Over An Entire City Block With A Giant Running Track

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Fortune Cookie Service Brings Bad News To Your Doorstep

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Work Yesterday

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Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

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Airport Mural Puts Passengers In The Clouds

The installation in an Amsterdam terminal lets travelers float through a series of billowing 3D digital shapes

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DevBot Is An Intelligent, Driverless, Electric Car

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AR Ski Goggles Make Racing Down The Slopes Even More Immersive

Israeli startup RideOn weaves digital overlays into the thrill of skiing with an unconventional pair of protective eyewear


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Japan Wants To Make 2020 Olympic Medals From Recycled Electronic Waste

The Tokyo Games could showcase the first-ever gold, silver and bronze awards made from discarded phones and computers

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This Small Town Has Become A Hide-and-Seek World Championship Destination

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Garmin’s New Smartwatch Is Challenging The Luxury Market

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