Ads worth spreading

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of Six Pixels of Separation. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

People hate advertising.

How often have you heard that line? Do you believe it to be true? I don’t (no shock there). I prefer to turn the phrase a little bit: people don’t hate advertising… people hate bad advertising.

It’s a pervasive sentiment throughout the marketing world. Think about privacy: Do people want their privacy? If people don’t want brands to know what they’re doing why do they give out their personal information for a couple of coupons (is that all that it’s worth?)? If people were truly concerned about their online privacy, why would they sign up for Facebook and not only post very personal pictures of them and their family, but also publish (to the world, no less) information that they would commonly label as “personal and private”?

We’re an interesting species.

At this year’s TED conference they announced the winners of TED‘s ads worth spreading contest/initiative. In looking at the many winners that were chosen by the judges, I could not help but sit back, enjoy the ads, smile and think to myself:“advertising is worth it.” The big challenge comes from getting brands, media companies and the advertising agencies to elevate the industry so that we all, collectively, believe it — and, more importantly, practice it.

We’re struggling. We often don’t really know what works and what connects when it comes to creating advertising and marketing messages, so we pander to the lowest common denominator and create an ad that simply screams… instead of an ad that will tell a story.

How did we get so lost?

Is there any data, proof, or business case to validate that screaming your product in an annoying and repetitive fashion actually gets (and keeps) attention?

Below, are some of the ads that touched my heart. The truth is that I’m going to remember these ads forever. The truth is that I’m either going to become a customer or think about these brands the next time that I require their products and services.

That’s the point of advertising: to make a brand an idea worth spreading.


About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

Tags: , , , ,


  1. Laurie

    LOVE the Breast Cancer Ad aas I really like the Coffee cup one!

Featured Downloads

Download: “The Difference Map” by Bernadette Jiwa

We’re big fans of author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and TEDx speaker Bernadette Jiwa, who says that good marketing…

Read More

The first chapter of “The Social Media Side Door” by Ian Greenleigh

Ian reveals the best ways to earn the attention of influential people using social media channels.

Read More

9 Things to Share That Start Conversations

Use the examples in this guide to help inspire ways to make your message more portable and shareable.

Read More

3 Must-Use Word of Mouth Marketing Tools

These tools will help you kick off any word of mouth campaign no matter what topic, industry, or budget.

Read More

The Top Four Tips for Multiplying Your Word of Mouth

These tips can help you get your marketing to do more work without a lot of extra effort.

Read More

10 Ways to Turn Around Negative Word of Mouth

The most effective ways to stop negative WOM with examples from Zappos, FedEx, Dell, and more.

Read More
Get our free weekly newsletter

Join 35,000 brilliant word of mouth marketers by signing up for our free weekly email newsletter filled with actionable word of mouth ideas.

You’ll be blown away by just how good you can be at this.

Never display this again