Remembering the Top TV Campaigns of the 21st Century

While we honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation this weekend, the Memorial Day holiday got us in the mindset of remembering. We decided to come up with a list of some of our favorite tv campaigns of the 21st century.   Advertising agencies and brands alike have teamed up to create memories, tag lines, and images that will stick and create awareness in mass amounts. A few stood out to the Marketing Keys team – here are our most memorable tv campaigns of the 21st century.

5. P&G: Thank You Mom

The heart-warming “Thank You Mom” campaigns will easily bring you to tears. This begins our list as one of the top tv campaigns of the 21st century.  Procter & Gamble partnered with the Olympics to create a wide spread message to all moms watching. P&G’s campaign debuted in tandem with the 2010 Winter Olympic games. Commercials demonstrated an evolution of champions from birth to adulthood with their mothers right by their side. P&G thanked moms for “teaching us that falling only makes us stronger” in their concluding line. Tide, Pampers, Duracell, and Bounty logos flashed across the screen, brands clearly targeting the loving wife and mother. This campaign earned many awards, and by 2014, P&G had the top four best-scoring ads for effectiveness from the 2014 Olympic games.

4. Dos Equis: World’s Most Interesting Man

Heineken USA commissioned EuroRSG, now known as Havas Worldwide, for the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In the World” campaign. The commercials feature a sophisticated, Jonathan Goldsmith, an older man picked specifically for his age. Advertisers wanted younger men to see it as a threat, and “a reminder of the accomplishments they hadn’t achieved yet,” according to former Senior Brand Director, Paul Smailes. His mission was definitely accomplished. The iconic commercials feature Goldsmith surrounded by beautiful women, traveling to exotic places, and eating lavish meals. All of them followed by the staple slogan, “stay thirsty my friends.” This commercial was sure to make our list as one of the top TV campaigns of the 21st century.

3. American Legacy: The Truth

American Legacy’s controversial Truth campaign landed in our top five for many reasons. First and foremost, its message was an important one at the turn of the century. Viewers witnessed themes symbolic of a new beginning, a new generation, and a new world. The Truth campaign used everything as a medium, from television to fire hydrants to build awareness around the dangers of tobacco. Consequently, Phillip Morris USA threatened to cease billions of dollars in funding to the American Legacy Foundation claiming it violated “the spirit” of their agreement.

Rather than focus on fear, agencies Crispin Porter & Bogusky partnered with Arnold Worldwide to create awareness around lies projected by big tobacco companies. Eric Asche, head of marketing at American Legacy, stated, “we could still run that spot today and it would still resonate with the audience and have power.”

2. Dove: Campaign for real Beauty


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As the internet grew, so did the expectation of women’s beauty standards. The Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty” shifted conversation from targeting insecurities to embracing what makes us all different. Ten years later, this campaign is still pivotal, especially in the age of social media. Ogilvy & Mather creative directors, Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, worked on this campaign with change in mind. “Would I say it’s changed the world? No,” says Vonk, “Would I say it’s had an impact? Yes.”

1. Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

At a time when body wash became a feminine phenomenon, Old Spice needed a way to boost sales from the male market. In 2009, Portland based agency, Wieden & Kennedy, realized men stopped buying body wash to use their wives or girlfriends, which explained the decline in sales. When formulating a plan, they decided they didn’t want to just target men, but the ladies in their lives as well. As a result, the man your man could smell like was born.

Shortly after its launch, the commercial went viral. Front man, Isaiah Mustafa, appeared on every talk show nationwide. Within the first few months of its premiere, The Old Spice Twitter following went up 700 percent and their Facebook engagement up by 800 percent. Old Spice not only was a commercial success, but also became a media phenomenon. Therefore, it earns our number one spot for the top ad campaign of the 21st century.