Watch here videos of the 10 best American advertising campaigns of the 20th century, according to Advertising Age magazine. Creative and bold, they managed to stand out in a highly competitive business and remain in people’s memories.
#10 Avis: “We try harder”
Working for Doyle Dane Bernbach agency, Paula Green created in 1963 the concept that became a symbol of the way car rental company stood out among its competitors. Admitting being in second place among car rental companies, Avis explained how it endeavored to provide a good service.
#9 Clairol: “Does she…or doesn’t she?”
The product’s penetration in the American market of beauty salons owes a lot to this extremely effective advertising campaign created by agency Foote, Cone & Belding in 1957, which emphasized the more natural colors provided by Miss Clairol.
#8 Miller Lite beer: “Tastes great, less filling”
Created by agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide in 1974, the long-running campaign for this beer brand remained in people’s memories, often featuring real or fictitious sports.
#7 Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle
The longest-running advertising campaign of all time, created by agency TBWA in 1981, is based on the distinctive shape of the bottle of Absolut vodka an has had over 1,500 published ads.
#6 De Beers: “A diamond is forever”
The phrase coined by copywriter Frances Gerety was initially used by agency N.W. Ayer & Son for the 1948 campaign of diamond trading company De Beers. The slogan is recognized as one of the best of all time and helped firm the image of diamond as a symbol of love and commitment.
#5 McDonald’s: “You deserve a break today”
Advertising jingle songwriter Kenny Karen wrote the one that accompanies this 1971 commercial by agency Needham, Harper & Steers, which highlights the dedication to the cleaning instead of mentioning the food.
#4 Nike: “Just do it”
One of the best-known slogans in advertising history was coined by Dan Wieden, a partner in the agency Wieden & Kennedy, for a 1988 campaign of the brand of athletic shoes and sports equipment. Nike’s ads continue to use the sentence, nowadays recognized everywhere.
#3 Marlboro: “The Marlboro Man”
Conceived by Leo Burnett in 1955, the image of the rough cowboy was used to popularize filtered cigarettes, which were seen as feminine. The campaign was extremely successful all over the world and originated others, such as “Marlboro Country”.
#2 Coca-Cola: “The pause that refreshes”
Agency D’Arcy Co. created the soft drink campaigns that helped popularize the image of Santa Claus and, in 1929, launched one of the most famous slogans in the history of Coca-Cola.
#1 Volkswagen: “Think Small”
The best American advertising campaign of the 20th century symbolizes a creative revolution that would make ads much more interesting to the eyes of consumers. Created in 1959 by agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, today called DDB Worldwide, it stands out for emphasizing in an unexpected way a specific characteristic of the car.
More about this list
In 1999, Advertising Age had a special issue with reports and lists of the greatest achievements in advertising in the 20h century. “Top 100 Advertising Campaigns” was one of the lists. The three basic criteria used for its compilation were: 1) campaigns that changed advertising culture or the culture of the time in general; 2) campaigns that created a whole new category or that took the product to the top of its category; 3) campaigns that are simply unforgettable.