Business Insider's 10 Best Ads Of 2014

Budweiser adYouTubeWhere did Budweiser’s cute ‘Puppy Love’ Super Bowl ad appear?

If 2014’s efforts were anything to go by, we think we’re living in a golden era for advertising.

Unlike last year, the winning ads don’t necessarily share a theme, which shows how marketers are diversifying their strategies to continue to surprise consumers. If we were to pick one intertwining thread among the top 10, it would be that marketers are now successfully harnessing social media and the power of sharing to increase the reach and effectiveness of their campaigns.

As with last year, some of the ads in our rankings will be familiar, but others you may not have seen. 

Our ranking is entirely subjective: we looked at originality, entertainment value, and success stories. These were the brands and the campaigns that stood out. Congratulations to everyone who made the list.

10. Samsung -- 'Oscar Selfie'

You might be sick of this photo right now, but that's probably good evidence that Samsung's marketing tactic was a huge success. As part of its sponsorship of the Oscars, Samsung and its media agency Starcom MediaVest integrated the Galaxy Note smartphone into the event by having Ellen DeGeneres take a selfie jam-packed with A-list celebrities, including Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep.

The photo swept across social media like wildfire and was on the front pages of newspapers and placed at the top of news bulletins around the world the following day.

9. Wren -- 'First Kiss'

8. Cardstore -- 'World's Toughest Job'

7. Lidl: 'Or You Could Just Go To Lidl'

Discount grocer Lidl and its media agency M2M reacted quickly to the news that rival supermarket Morrisons was launching a loyalty card that promised to price-match the grocers. This full-page newspaper ad ticked all the boxes: it was eye-catching (it's rare to have so much whitespace), it covered the important Lidl brand messages of simplicity and low prices, and it was extremely witty.

6. Lego -- The Lego Ad Break

5. Sainsbury's -- 'Christmas 2014'

4. Twentieth Century Fox -- 'Devil Baby Attack'

3. Beats -- 'The Game Before The Game'

2. Budweiser: 'Puppy Love'

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If you don't enjoy this ad, check your pulse and make sure there's still a heart inside your cold, emotionless shell of a body. Budweiser's Super Bowl hit 'Puppy Love', created by ad agency Anomaly, was a huge success partly because it foregoed the usual Super Bowl humour tactics and instead chose to tug on viewers' heartstrings. And it's hard not to have a penchant for a cute dog.

It's fair to say it was the ad that 'won' the Super Bowl this year. It came top of USA TODAY's consumer-judged Ad Meter for Super Bowl commercials and was voted the top best during the game by Hulu viewers. The spot also became the most shared Super Bowl ad of all time, according to Unruly.

1. ALS 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

The exact origins of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are unclear, but what is certain is that the craze -- which involved millions of individuals filming themselves tipping buckets over their heads for charity -- was the biggest social media sensation of the year.

A string of celebrities, including 50 Cent, Bill Gates (pictured), and Justin Bieber, took part and the initiative helped raise $US100 million in extra funding for the ALS Association (and also millions in extra donations for other charities around the world.) The ice bucket challenge has also sparked a wave of spinoff social media-related challenges including UNICEF's 'wake up selfie' and the 'feeling nuts' campaign raising money for testicular cancer charities.

The success of the initiative showed that it's not just advertisers with huge budgets that can have impact worldwide and that it is often the simplest ideas that are the most effective.

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