The 10 Ads From 2017 That Left Us Shook
Companies embraced gender equality, environmentalism, and inclusion.
From groundbreaking Super Bowl commercials to innovative sustainability projects, companies around the world harnessed social consciousness to appeal to open-minded consumers throughout 2017.
Their advertising campaigns captured the power of inclusiveness and showed that brands understand how more and more people value equality, environmentalism, and cultural exchange when they shop.
This year, a beer giant embraced the immigrant experience in an ad during the Super Bowl, a sanitary pad company actually showed period blood in a commercial, and a major footwear brand partnered with Global Citizen to bring the world a genderless shoe.
Take Action: Tweet at Influential Companies to #BuyWomenOwned
These socially conscious ads reflected the mission of Global Citizen, which campaigns on “social, economic, and political inclusion of all,” a key aspect of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. You can take action on these issues here.
They also attracted international attention and raised the profiles of companies that have embraced the spirit underpinning movements like the Women’s March and immigrants’ rights rallies.
For these ten brands, social consciousness sells.
1/ Aldo’s Genderless Shoes Are Helping Kids Get an Education
Earlier this year, footwear pioneer Aldo partnered with Global Citizen to unveil a limited-edition genderless shoes. All proceeds from the shoe go toward helping kids in the world’s poorest countries get the education they deserve.
“Our goal is to elevate what the sneaker stands for and raise awareness for a project that will resonate with our global community, the #AldoCrew,” Aldo Vice President Daianara Grullon Amalfitano said.
2/ This Pad Ad Finally Showed Period Blood
For years, commercials for period products never actually showed blood, you know, the stuff that pads and tampons are supposed to help women manage. Menstruation taboos compelled brands to show everything but period blood, including a blue detergent-like liquid poured on top of the sanitary pads.
That is until Bodyform showed the world what period blood actually looks like — something half the population already knows.
3/ See2Sea Turned Ocean Trash into Eyewear Treasure
With scientists predicting that the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish by 2050, the sunglasses company See2Sea decided to take action. So they began scooping trash from the sea off the coast of Catalonia and molding it into hip eyewear, an example of circular economics.
4/ Patagonia’s Bug-Poop Infused ‘Clean Color’ Line Took the Chemicals Out of Our Clothes
In an effort to limit the use of chemicals, the forward-thinking apparel company turned to a surprising source of dye — bug poop along with pomegranate, citrus peels, and other organic materials. The natural dyes produce mellow pinks and earthy browns, as well as a cool, conscious marketing campaign.
5/ A Beer Company Highlighted the Immigrant Experience For All of Us
This year Anheuser-Busch tapped into its roots, dramatizing the story of the company’s immigrant founder. Though the ad is set in the 19th Century, it portrays a timeless tale of determination in the face of obstacles in a new land.
6/ A Family Finds an Opportunity At the US Border in Lumber84’s Notable Ad
In this ad from home-building supply company Lumber 84, a mother and daughter overcome various hardships as they journey north to the US border. When they finally arrive, they face an imposing wall — with an open doorway.
“[84 Lumber] is a company looking for people with grit, determination and heart, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like,” the Lumber 84 owner said.
7/ Timberland Made Streetwear From Haitian Street Trash
This year, Timberland didn’t just create cool boots and backpacks from recycled plastic, they also created jobs for local Haitians and helped the island recycle 700,000 plastic bottles.
8/ AirBnB Shared Its Simple Message of Acceptance
The innovative home rental company, which facilitates vacations and short-term stays for millions of people around the world, used its Super Bowl ad to show one of the reasons why its business model works: an emphasis on inclusion and exchange.
The ad features the faces of individuals from various backgrounds and ethnicities who have shared their homes with others. “We accept,” the actors say.
9/ Audi Confronted Sexism With This Powerful Commercial
In this Audi ad, which has been viewed nearly 12.8 million times on Youtube, a father contemplates how he will explain sexism to his daughter.
“Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma?” he asks, “That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued less than every man she ever meets?”
It’s a powerful statement on behalf of women’s rights in a year when millions of women made the voices heard in the streets and on social media.
10/ Heineken Gets Opponents to Share a Beer and a Conversation
With people from competing ideological camps too often isolated among like-minded friends or locked inside online echo chambers, Heineken accomplished a difficult task by bridging those divides — over a beer, of course.
In a popular online ad campaign, the Dutch brewer brought together people from across the ideological spectrum together and encouraged them to chat while sharing a brew or two. The ad reminded us that what have in common can overcome what separates us.