Nike’s CNY films, @Marmite outdoor, Elton John and Michael Caine for NHS and more: creative ads of the week

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When it comes to advertising, getting noticed is the most important task. The next challenge is that of engagement or evoking interest, which is something most advertisers and ad agencies don’t seem to be too bothered about – going by the run-of-the-mill ads which are most common. Hence we need to appreciate the handful of creative ads which break the media clutter, are memorable and relevant. Here are a few which caught my eye recently:

Nike: The great chase

Every year, the Chinese New Year is seen as a huge opportunity by brand owners. A lot of effort goes behind campaigns which aim to create a cultural connect with the audience. But how does a brand associated with sport and athleticism create a connect on such an occasion? Nike shows the way in a beautiful spot. What I liked about is that it just does not merely pay lip service by showing a montage of ‘typically’ local visuals – a format we have seen far too often.

It is anchored on the tradition of hongbao where red envelopes filled with money are given to children during special occasions. There is a ‘ritual’ associated with it as the younger ones initially refuse the gift out of politeness but go on to accept it as a sign of respect. Tradition has it that the recipients of such red envelopes return the favour once they are grown and married.

The brand and its core message is woven cleverly in such as context as a young girl gets her aunt to chase her with the envelope. The great chase continues over time and the brand plays a key role. The denouement is sweet when the aunt arrives at the door of the now married niece, all prepared for the chase again with the new pair of Nike shoes. Loved it.

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy

The ad got media mentions too in China, an indication of how effectively it struck a chord.

Nike: Make Your Own Fortune

The second ad from Nike for Chinese New Year is a lot more hardwired to the central proposition of ‘Just Do It’ and perseverance. The story is that of a little girl who stumbles upon an unfulfilled wish of her father and becomes a catalyst to achieve the dream.

But wishing? That’s not very Nike.So for their second-ever CNY film, Nike and W+K Shanghai flipped the traditional CNY greeting “Wish you good fortune” into “Make your own fortune.”


Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Shanghai

Marmite: dynamite outdoor

In traditional advertising, outdoor was referred to as a ‘fleeting medium’. The thumb rule was that it should not have more than eight words – essentially meaning that lengthy copy would never be read when seen driving past a hoarding. The other ‘rule’ is to create visual impact – either through dramatic images (like how Apple does it with their ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaigns) or have a show stopper of an idea. A great example of the latter approach is one adopted by adhesive brand Araldite in 1983 when they stuck a real car on a billboard.

A new campaign to introduce Marmite Dynamite – a limited-edition chilli breakfast spread in the UK is a show stopper which is generating a lot of buzz on social media. What I loved about it, aside from the stunt itself is how it weaved in the long standing brand property of ‘Love it. Hate it’.

Agency: adam&eveDDB

Aside from the media coverage about the outdoor placement, the brand has been having much fun on Twitter tagging accounts such as Autoglass and Uber in a cheeky thread. The ‘explosive’ tase is also brought alive visually on Twitter.

The Marmite billboard reminded me of this effort from New Zealand many years ago to promote the airing of Kill Bill on a local TV station.

Halifax: it’s a people thing

‘We are with you all the way through life’s ups & downs’ feels like an oft-heard promise from a banking or financial services brand. But this execution for Halifax is refreshingly different and real. To quote the press release: ‘Set on a single UK street, the advert navigates through different moments in the lives of the people who live there, as they happen at the same time‘.

Agency: New Commercial Arts

NHS: Vaccine

Who said that a public service announcement on a serious subject (at least currently) as vaccination should be boring? A new spot from NHS in the UK stars Elton John & Michael Caine encouraging Britons to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

Hyundai: kidult approved

Coined words like ‘Kidult’ get our attention and the ad conveys the idea clearly that kids grow fast (literally in one car ride) and the SUV is spacious enough to adapt to the ‘growing’ needs.

Agency: Innocean Australia

Habito: road to completion

Online mortgage would be classified under ‘boring category’ in most ad agencies. But not for Habito, UK and their agency, Uncommon. Based on research feedback that mortgage-related stress has a negative impact on intimacy between couples, they have released an online novel about, wait for this…buying a house. In my view, it is clearly aimed at creating buzz and awareness about the stress caused by mortgage and thus by association conveying a stress-free position for the brand in the category.

Agency: Uncommon, London

Apple: Nian – Chinese New Year film shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max

The product is the hero. That’s a golden rule is Apple hardly ever breaks in its story telling. The latest is a specially made film for Chinese New Year, shot entirely on an iPhone 12 Pro Max. The framing, editing and special effects subliminally make you wonder ‘is all this possible on a phone?’ thus enhancing the desirability quotient of the brand.

Which was your favourite? Do comment in.

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