The World’s Best Commercials from 2012–2013 Named at Cannes

Grow­ing up, I used to watch those com­pi­la­tions of com­mer­cials tele­vi­sion net­works would throw togeth­er to cheap­ly fill air­time: Amer­i­ca’s Fun­ni­est Com­mer­cials, Coolest Com­mer­cials of the Year, The Most Inex­plic­a­ble For­eign Com­mer­cials You’ve Ever Seen. This speaks not only to how bor­ing a child­hood I must oth­er­wise have had, but to how many adver­tise­ments real­ly do, if looked at from the right angle, con­tain a ker­nel of cre­ative val­ue. The Cannes Lions Inter­na­tion­al Fes­ti­val of Cre­ativ­i­ty, the world adver­tis­ing indus­try’s biggest gath­er­ing, recent­ly anoint­ed a few of 2012–13’s com­mer­cials as worth watch­ing on pur­pose. You can watch 21 of them on Adweek’s web­site (though be warned that they unfor­giv­ably put each video on a sep­a­rate page). At the top you’ll find the first, Mel­bourne Metro’s train-safe­ty spot “Dumb Ways to Die.”

You may have encoun­tered it before, when it went mild­ly viral due to not only its sheer macabre cute­ness, but pre­sum­ably pub­lic shock at see­ing a tran­sit agency com­mis­sion some­thing enter­tain­ing. I’ve cer­tain­ly seen many a tin-eared pitch by the Metro in my own city, Los Ange­les. I’ve also seen stub­by Smart Fort­wos sprout up like mobile mush­rooms here, and the ad just above by Big­fish Film­pro­duc­tion tells me why by label­ing it “the ulti­mate city car” — and under­scor­ing the point by show­ing just how poor­ly it fares out in the wilder­ness. Below, you’ll find a com­mer­cial for a brand that hard­ly needs adver­tise­ment: Leica. It trades on the rich his­to­ry of the Leica cam­era, but tells it from the point of view of the cam­era itself, shoot­ing in the style of a clas­sic World War II film. (If it stirs you to learn more, con­sid­er read­ing “Can­did Cam­era,” Antho­ny Lane’s med­i­ta­tion on the Leica for the New York­er.)

H/T Kim L.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch’s Sur­re­al Com­mer­cials

Fellini’s Fan­tas­tic TV Com­mer­cials

Sal­vador Dalí Goes Com­mer­cial: Three Strange Tele­vi­sion Ads

Dig­i­tal Archive of Vin­tage Tele­vi­sion Com­mer­cials

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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