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May 22, 2015 2 min read

This week we’ve got adverts on the brain: partly because of working on our own campaign for THABTO’s exciting new collection; partly because there are some brilliantly inventive advertisements floating about at present; and partly because this week spelled the end of the iconic TV series, Mad Men, which portrayed the lives of ad execs working on Madison Avenue (the beating heart of the industry during the 1960s and 1970s).

We’ve found ourselves asking: what is it that makes a great ad? How do they get it right? Whilst we’re not advertising experts, we do know a thing or two about design; so we thought we’d share a few of our favourites with you – all of which are unique gifts in their own right!

1. Penguin Books: Audiobooks, 2014.

We love this clever, eye-catching print advert, developed by McCann Erickson India for Penguin Books.

There are three adverts in this campaign, each featuring a different author – Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and of course William Shakespeare (pictured) – ingeniously depicted as a pair of headphones. The mouths of the authors are open, as if they are speaking directly to their listeners via the audiobook medium. The striking but subtle colour scheme and plentiful use of neutral space enhances the inviting, expressive feel.

If that visual doesn't make viewers want to immerse themselves into an audiobook, we don’t know what would!

2. Volkswagen: Adaptive Cruise Control, 2015.

The only video on our list, but a memorable one.

This advert, produced by DDB Spain, promotes Volkswagen’s latest innovation in technology: an adaptive cruise control system, which includes all the features of a traditional ‘cruise’ with the added bonus of keeping your vehicle a safe distance from the one in front.

The concept of Volkswagen's whizzy new technology expands throughout the advert, with a clever ideological twist: the slogan ‘keep a friendly distance’ is utilised not just in the context of cars, but also in highlighting the negative ‘closeness’ and competitiveness of big brands such as McDonald’s and Burger King, who are shown to be fighting – quite literally – over the same patch.

The cultural significance of this advert and the accessible concept allows the ACC feature to shine whilst positioning Volkswagen as an empathetic, down-to-earth, consumer-friendly brand.

3. Woodstock Ventures: Woodstock Music & Art Fair, 1969.

What can we say about this? An icon of print design if ever there was one: a perfect embodiment of the peaceful rebellion that the Woodstock festival came to symbolise. The dove perching on the guitar handle, the riot of bright primary colours, the clear-to-read but almost subversive, not quite regular font, combine with stunning effect. Arnold Skolnick’s poster resonates deeply thanks to its unique, striking style – a style that has been much imitated since but never successfully duplicated.

What’s your favourite advert? We’ve covered a few explosive concepts but there are some nostalgic adverts that we haven’t touched on – what about the infamous ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ advert from Coca Cola? What about the Milk Tray Man?! Feel free to share your reminiscences with us on social media – we’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.     

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