Here’s lookin’ at you, 2014: Our favorite video ads of the year

Ah, 2014. The Year of the Boy Band Comebacks, the Selfie, the #AlexFromTarget phenomenon, and, sadly, (yet again) the Kardashians. So pop culture had a rough year, OK? But thankfully, the advertising industry had a triumphant one. As we say goodbye to 2014, and to hopefully many of its cultural trends, the B team takes a look at some of the year’s advertising moments that made everything a little bit better.

So cheers to you, 2014. Here’s to some of the great ads that inspired us, made us laugh, moved us, or made us blush along the way:

Subaru “They Lived”

Most car commercials are indiscernible from one another. This one stands out. It’s brave – most brands wouldn’t be willing to show a mangled, broken version of their product. It’s simple – a direct, powerful message carried by two words. It’s emotional – who hasn’t worried about perfect strangers as we drive past a bad accident on the freeway? Who doesn’t worry about the safety of their own family? And it’s authentic – inspired by letters from real Subaru owners. Ultimately, it says everything it needs to say, and more.

Maytag “Maytag Man Refrigerator Running”

First there was the Maytag “lonely repairman.” Now there is, simply, the Maytag Man. He’s dependable, he’s strong, he’s tireless, he’s handsome. More importantly, he gets straight to the point about the durability and quality of Maytag products. Innovative, and brilliant in its simplicity and visual representation, this ad is one of our favorite of the series.

Beats by Dre “The Game Before the Game”

A great ad is one that doesn’t feel like an ad at all – or better yet, makes you want to watch it over and over again. Starring Brazilian soccer icon Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., along with a long list of athletes and celebrities, Beats’ “short film” contains possibly the most cameos you’ll ever see in one commercial. But this is a brand that knows its audience – and how to reach it. Sweat. Sex. Superstitions. Sonic sanctuary. The ad speaks to the “game before the game,” the rituals each athlete, performer and media figure undertakes before stepping into the spotlight. Released during the World Cup hysteria, the spot was perfectly timed, the copy was masterfully written, and the final product was beautifully executed.   

Schick “Crib in My Pants”

Everything about Schick’s “Crib in My Pants” ad is so wrong – yet so, so right. With this quirky music video-like spot, Schick uses some pretty ingenious metaphors to promote its new Hydro Groomer – “the one tool that keeps your whole house in order.” And by house they mean, well, you’ll see. The ad is innovative. It’s catchy. It’s bold. It’s hilarious. It’s inappropriately appropriate. But we’ll quit beating around the bush here. Just watch for yourself.

Under Armour “I Will What I Want”

Here’s something new: An athletic wear company targeting women. Well, it’s about time. This year, Under Armour changed the way we look at sports endorsement with its “I Will What I Want” campaign. The campaign celebrates female athletes who’ve overcome adversity to rise to the top of their game – from Misty Copeland to Lindsey Vonn and Gisele Bündchen. “I Will What I Want” tells inspiring true stories that empower women and debunk the age-old meaning of the word strength.

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