My colleague Paul Bennett of IDEO has written an insightful and delightful essay for BusinessWeek: Most Memorable Ads of 2006
Here's an excerpt from Paul:
We're clearly at an inflection point. I'm not even a traditional ad-guy and I've been asked to write this, so what does that say? We're all firmly in this together—marketers, designers, clients, agencies, researchers, ethnographers, art directors and writers, all being sniped at, out-thought, and remixed by consumers younger than our own kids. Hard as it is to say, in most cases, they're as good, if not better, at this stuff than we are. Now, together, we must figure out where to go from here. But before we get in to a whole spiral of circle drumming, chest-beating and problem-solving, let's take a quick tour of some of the highlights of the last year.
But first a warm-up of sorts: Honda's Impossible Dream spot—which aired in December, 2005, and therefore doesn't make the official 2006 list—deserves a mention for Not Being Afraid of the Joy of Great Storytelling, for expansive locations, great nostalgic music, excellent casting, and a fantastically simple premise. In it, a guy emerges from his trailer, mounts a scooter, and then seamlessly moves from product to product, stirring emotions, sweeping us along in his wake, and bringing a tear to many an eye.
I've written before about Honda's Impossible Dream ad in the context of what I like to call tangible brand mantras (you can see the ad by following that hyperlink). It's an ad I can watch over and over (and I have - maybe 50 times; not as many viewings for me as the original Star Wars, but getting there). And it's one which is authentic and true even though it's so outrageous and funny. Honda is a company where the CEO knows whereof he speaks. It's a company as capable of pulling off revolutionary innovation outcomes as it is innovating on a routine basis. It's a group of people not afraid of thinking weird but right. And, above all, it's a company which solves for happiness because, when one gets down to the bottom of it all, that's what drives innovation.