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2015 Annual: The best ads of the year

Richie Benaud Australia Day ad: Meat & Livestock Australia.

In a year where we lost the greatest cricket commentator of all time, it is only fitting that Richie Benaud’s rare appearance in an ad for MLA was far and away the best thing on TV all year.

The Australia Day epic from The Monkeys, with Benaud on the phone to his mates, ranging from Captain Cook to Ned Kelly, Ita Buttrose, Burke and Wills and, of course, the lamb loving Sam Kekovich, was a delight, full of wily puns and sharp observations. As ever, the most awaited ad of the year delivered again. Marvelous.

Sun stealers: Origin Energy.
Promoting alternate energy resources, Origin and agency Clemenger BBDO hit on an off-beat campaign focused on a travelling couple stealing the sun’s energy from the barren rooftops of Australian homes. Driving home the message that when it comes to solar energy, Australia’s rooftops are a wasted resource, Origin pulled the campaign off with a rare good humour that managed to avoid preaching the green mantra.

Christmas campaign: Myer

Christmas is a time for retailers to shine and Myer’s 2015 campaign had a little extra sparkle thanks to input of the animators from the fabled Wallace and Grommit series and the creative team at Clemenger BBDO. While cloaked in a covering of a traditional northern hemisphere Christmas, complete with Rudolph, Angel, Mouse, a concerned elf and lashings of snow, the campaign still managed to have a distinctly Australian flavour thanks to some wonderful voice work and laconic script as the team head out on their Christmas shopping spree.

Cockroach: Aldi
When it came to retail advertising, the efforts from Aldi through BMF were a high mark. In a dull, price driven category where “Down, Down” and “Cheap, Cheap” numbed shoppers into submission, Aldi’s fresh approach to a simple problem – price comparisons for bug spray – was done with a sense of humour few ads attain and reminded viewers retail ads don’t have to be dull.

Kittens: Uber

Uber likes attention, and so do kittens. So when Uber decided to import its successful US stunt, allowing Uber users to order up a litter of kittens for a quick cuddle and play at the office, what was not to like? Aside from generating acres of media coverage the stunt also generated donations for animal shelters across the country, a win, win, win for all involved. And yes, Mumbrella House was treated to a delivery of kittens.

The Hoff changes his name: Amaysim

Take one globally recognised celebrity, add a Youtube video where he announces he is changing his name because he is sick of the hassle it has brought him, and then stand back and watch the world’s media lap up the story. Let it stand for a couple of days, and then reveal your cheeky hoax thanks to an emerging phone brand wanting to remove the hassle from customers lives. Using a strategy that all too often goes pear shaped as the social media world reacts angrily to being duped, the Hoff campaign by The Specials Group for Amaysim achieved exactly the opposite and gave Amaysim a well earned push.

Captain Risky: Budget Direct.

The online insurance operator Budget Direct has long dined on a slightly quirky line in marketing, from the young french girl mispronouncing the brand to the funny little aliens. By comparison the Captain Risky campaign from 303Lowe is almost mainstream. As the bearded stuntman puts his life on the line, Budget Direct returns us to an age where advertising was genuinely entertaining.

Ricky Gervais: Optus.

If it had been anybody but Ricky Gervais it would never have worked. Optus, with the help of Emotive, took celebrity endorsement and threw away all the rules as Gervais took part in a series of ads, appearing utterly disinterested and even mocking the brand. The result was content demanding to be shared.

Lucid Dreams: Honda HR-V.

Cinematic in scale, seriously deranged in its plot, Honda’s ad for the HRV by Leo Burnett Melbourne took the concept of lucid dreaming to a new level. From talking dogs to the thumping Eurythmics track Sweet Dreams, the ad was a flight of fancy with a car as the handy excuse to indugle in some serious computer animation. It was that rare beast, an ad demanding to watched again and again, each time revealing a little more.

Deng Adut Unlimited: University of Western Sydney.

Finally an ad where the message was more important than the product. The inspirational tale of Deng Thiak Adut, taken from his mother as a child and forced to fight with Ethiopian soldiers before being smuggled into Sudan and finally granted refugee status. Teaching himself to read and then taking on a law degree while living in his car, his is a tale of the opportunity Australia can offer that just happens to be marketing for a university. An ad for its time.

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