The best and worst campaigns of 2022, according to industry creatives

Campaigns from Apple, Ocean Spray, and Subaru were commended. Political and crypto ads? Not so much.
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4 min read

Ah, 2022. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. You could say the same thing about the ads we saw in the past 12 months.

Marketing Brew asked creative minds in the industry to share with us their favorite and most memorable campaigns from the year—along with the ones they thought fell flat.

Best campaigns

Apple’s “The Greatest”

“Representation on point. Amazing casting [and] editing. The soundtrack is incredible. What is really outstanding for me is that it’s a demo ad, so it’s the best demo of the year…I was smiling through the entire film.”—Linus Oura, creative director, David New York

“It was an incredibly thoughtful portrayal of so many beautiful abilities and changed the bar for how we should all approach casting, filmmaking, and storytelling. It will be the campaign that is referenced in every deck for the next decade.”—Jerry Hoak, ECD and managing director, The Martin Agency

Ocean Spray’s “Power Your Holidays”

“I’m so jealous. The concept, casting, music…all of it. Pure joy. Ownable. Memorable. Based in product and holiday culture. You can’t help but dance—or whatever you want to call it—along with them. An instant classic that I’m sure I’ll return to for a long time.”—Andrew Hunter, Dentsu Creative US group creative director

Wholly Veggie’s “Haha the Kids Just Ate Vegetables”

“It’s funny from the beginning to the absolutely genius line at the end…It’s a film that I’m super jealous [of], and I wanted to have in my portfolio.”—Oura, David NY

Subaru’s “Long, Lonely Road”

“Well, this is as cheap and exploitative as it gets. We’re showing dogs with disabilities. It’s so heartbreaking. [So] why does this work?…In spite of everything that’s going against that commercial, where somebody could get turned off by it immediately, because of the nature of who is doing it, who is executing it, you earn that permission to show up [and message] around something like that.”—Evan Scott Schwartz, partner, head of content, Kingsland

Coinbase’s QR-code Super Bowl ad

“This is one of the most clever and bold commercials that the Super Bowl has seen in recent years. It’s simple and effective; there’s no gimmicks, special effects, or big celebrities, it’s just a strong and smart idea.”—Fernanda Canellas, design director, Siegel+Gale

Smile promotional campaign

“It might be because I noticed it live and started taking pictures of the screen, but the stunt for the Smile movie caught me off guard. It was one of the best subversive ad placements I have seen, and the box-office results show it worked.”—Wayne Best, chief creative officer, VMLY&R NY

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Upwork’s “This Is How We Work Now”

Alto’s delightful Zombie Boss musical for Upwork reminded us how entertaining marketing should be. And how there’s still room for innovative ideas—even in the realm of the undead. They hit on a universal office-culture truth, worked in their product beautifully, and had us all laughing and sharing for the entire two minutes and 26 seconds.”—Hoak, The Martin Agency

Worst campaigns

Shoehorning celebrities into ads

“The things that really started falling flat for me were just jamming random celebrities into stuff…They will bring their social media following, all of that built-in exposure, but you are still ultimately creating an ad for that celebrity, and your product is the thing that they’re holding up. It’s not really a way to build a brand.”—Schwartz, Kingsland

Balenciaga’s holiday campaign

“Both for the lack of judgment in making the work and also for the decision to throw their agency and production partners under the bus without taking personal accountability. The entire thing was shameful.”—Hoak, The Martin Agency

The Gratiot County Republican Party’s political ad in support of Tudor Dixon

“One thing I think Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that most political ads stink. And these are people who are asking us to trust them to run the country. The low point? This ad for Tudor Dixon. I’ve seen more believable acting at a kindergarten performance.”—Best, VMLY&R NY

“Superficial PR stunts”

“The hundreds of case studies trying to save the world with superficial PR stunts versus substantive brand contributions and investment. As an industry, we’ve completely lost our damn minds when we eschew fun and business results for ineffective, self-congratulatory initiatives that get loosely tied to (insert any product here). Can we please get back to selling things? There’s real power in that. Can we put the Cliff Freeman back in advertising? We desperately need to reset what we celebrate.”—Hunter, Dentsu Creative

EToro’s “Flying Your Way”

“In the case of eToro, it seems like they went for the ‘nonsense’ route to capture people’s attention, but the feeling is of a poorly executed idea and dull humor.”—Canellas, Siegel+Gale

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.