The Year in Review: 10 best ads of 2016

There were some good ads over the course of 2016, but was it a stand-out year for the industry or did mediocrity reign? Mumbrella looks over the 10 best ads of the year and asks: could the industry have done better?


Spring Lamb: You’ll Never Lamb Alone

For more than 20 years Meat and Livestock Australia has been pushing the boundaries ever further, at once entertaining Australians with its work and asking questions of the society we live in. This was perhaps never better demonstrated than with the Spring Lamb campaign that celebrated Australia’s diversity, from our indigenous heroes to our immigrants and members of communities still fighting for recognition.

Perhaps it was ironic that adland tossed up an ad about diversity, but even with a failed bid by critics to have the ad banned, this work by The Monkeys ticked all the boxes.

Meat & Livestock Australia: Operation Boomerang

It’s fair the say MLA and the Monkeys were on a bit of a run this year, kicking off 2016 with an effort worthy of the history of the Australia Day Lamb ads. As always, Sam Kekovic was there with a cameo, but it was Lee Lin Chin who stole the show (indeed, 2016 was clearly the year of the quirky SBS newsreader).

With commandos sweeping the globe to repatriate Aussies for a Lamb barbecue, the work had all the scale of a Hollywood blockbuster. Of course the campaign included the requisite attack on vegetarians, with a flame-thrower making short work of a bowl of kale as a vegetarian cowered in the corner. Cue outraged responses from vegetarians, guaranteeing the work attracted even more earned media as MLA successfully defended its work to the Advertising Standards Board.

Aldi: Meet the Tinkletons

If there is one thing that can be said about Aldi it is that the brand has been curious, consistent and entertaining across the year. From talking mushrooms to overly-aggressive boxes of washing powder, the Germans have assumed the mantle of Australia’s most amusing advertiser; no mean feat in the cut-throat world of retail (okay, Coles’ ‘Down Down…’ doesn’t take much beating). But Aldi’s agency BMF outdid itself with the Christmas campaign featuring a frighteningly overbearing family of Americans who arrive to ‘fix’ the Aussie Christmas.

NAB: Mini Footballers

Football is meant to be fun and when NAB and the AFL wanted to highlight the road from Auskick to the big league, what emerged was an ad that managed to shrink some of the legends of the game to pint-sized versions of themselves.

Part of the fun of the effort was spotting who was who under the shaven heads and behind the ridiculously grizzled beards on display. Clemenger in Melbourne was responsible for the work.

Air New Zealand: Summer Wonderland

Air New Zealand has taken ownership of the safety video like no other airline with its regular retooling of the travel necessity going viral every time a new one is released. But for Christmas 2016 the Airline made a departure from its routine with a little bit of levity at the expense of Ronan Keating.

The key to the success of the ad – where Keating reworks the timeless classic Winter Wonderland into a song more reflective of the weather in the southern hemisphere – is the casting of young actor Julian Dennison. The kid makes the singer’s life a misery in the studio, before they finally find common ground – and another hit for the airline across the ditch.

ANZ Bank: GAYNZ branches

The conservative world of banking was never likely to be the source of sweeping social statements of social inclusion – that is until ANZ Bank set up the award-winning GayTM two years ago in support of Sydney’s Mardi Gras. This year the bank went one better, turning an entire branch into a GAYNZ, replete with a over the top approach that screamed Liberace. It was the sign of a brand comfortable in its own shoes.

GAYNZSubaru: Wild Side

In worst ads of the year a brand managed to thoroughly butcher one of Blondie’s greatest hits, but the flip side is Subaru, which, with the help of a few canines, managed to delight with Lou Reed’s iconic ‘Walk On The Wild Side.’ Disciple was the agency behind the work which saw a family’s dogs chanting the line “do, do’ do,” from the classic as they waited to be taken for a drive. Simple, fun, entertaining and true to the brand. The least that every ad should aspire to.

Snickers: Hungerithm

We live deep in the era of apps, engagement and experience. But without reward, it means nothing. Credit to Clemenger and Snickers which managed to coalesce a simple idea of a reward for customers into an app that tapped into the anger of the internet (and, in an election year featuring Donald Trump running for President, there was no shortage of that) to let people lock in a cheap Snickers bar. The angrier the internet got, the more the price dropped. It turned a tagline, ‘Your’e Not You When You’re Hungry’, into a world-first experience.

Honda: Dreamer

It is fair to say that advertising’s hold on reality can be tenuous at best, so why not be done with it altogether? In the beige world that is car advertising, Honda did just that with its Dreamer ad showing the fast track of a journalist’s life from reporting dog shows to becoming a news anchor – all thanks to the decision to chase a meteorite which flashes across the sky. The star of the ad is the Honda Civic, but the premise is so utterly ridiculous it renders this work from Leo Burnett Melbourne a winner.

Man Up: It Takes Balls to Cry

No top 10 would be worth its salt with out a public service or charity ad, and this effort is special because it is borne of a show focusing on the crumbling mental health of Australia’s men and finding a way forward.

Where so much work is the product of an agency, the Man Up ad is the work of Adam Hunt and Adam Ferrier – Adam and Adam if you will – and production house Heiress Films. With a simple voiceover it charts the way in which men are raised not to cry or show their emotions, while revealing ‘It Takes Balls to Cry’.

But as men strive through the ad not to cry, the real genius lies in the disclaimer at the end, the political rider that announces who the ad is brought to you by. Brought to you not by politicians, but by mums, dads and mates.



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