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3p Weekend: 10 Clever (and Conscious) Ad Campaigns That Won the Internet


With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every FridayTriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

It's tough to deliver a truly great ad campaign these days.  The good news is that despite an an ever-expanding sea of competition, ads that appeal to social consciousness are cutting through the crowd. With that in mind, this week we're featuring 10 clever and socially conscious ad campaigns that won the Internet.

1. U.N. Women's Autocomplete campaign

Released late last year, this ad campaign rocked the Web by featuring portraits of women with discriminatory Google autocomplete results covering their mouths. The campaign, developed as a creative idea for U.N. Women by Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai, features portraits of women with autocomplete results for search terms like “women should” and “women shouldn't” covering their mouths. The results were disturbing, with responses like women should "be in the kitchen" and women shouldn't "have rights."

2. Pantene "Labels Against Women"

This campaign made waves around the Web by pairing powerful women in management positions alongside men. The 60-second ad initially focuses on a male manger leading his team, with an appropriate caption of "boss." The shot then flashes to a female manager in the same position. Adding one letter that makes a big difference; the caption reads "bossy." Similar captions describe a working father as "dedicated," while those under a working mother read "selfish." Calling for a defiance of stereotypes, the campaign received more than 46 million views on YouTube.

3. Honey Maid’s “This Is Wholesome” follow-up

In early March, Honey Maid launched its “This Is Wholesome” ad campaign featuring several “unconventional” families – a family with two dads, a mixed-race family, a “rocker” family, a military family and a single dad and his son. After the ad drew criticism from religious and anti-gay circles over the family with two gay dads portrayed in the commercial, the company released a follow-up video on social media addressing both the negative and positive comments it received. Seriously, this ad about graham crackers is so powerful it may bring you to tears, which is pretty impressive.

4. Dove "Real Beauty Sketches"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk Dove made a smart, conscious and decidedly business savvy choice by cutting directly to a societal issue that impacts its consumers -- pervasive body image issues among women. By pairing real women alongside their perceived notions of themselves, the brand garnered nearly 30 million views on its campaign in only 10 days.

5. Chipotle, "The Scarecrow"

Another tear-jerker, this ad is the companion film to Chipotle's app-based game that calls on consumers to join the quest for wholesome, sustainable food.

6. GoldieBlox & Rube Goldberg "Princess Machine"

This visually captivating campaign gives young girls a clear message: There's a world beyond pink and princesses. Founder Debbie Sterling sees Goldie Blox, which is billed as an engineering toy for girls, as way more than a toy. It's the beginning of a movement to give girls new role models, a reason to become interested in STEM careers and new challenges to keep them engaged as they grow.

7. Coca-Cola, "It's Beautiful"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs Coca-Cola found itself embroiled in controversy earlier this year after the beverage giant’s “It’s Beautiful” Superbowl ad intimated that individuals of different ethnicities and cultures and a family with two dads were all-American. But its message also drew an overwhelming positive response, as well as more than 11 million views on YouTube.

8. Patagonia, "Worn Wear"

Back in 2011, Patagonia turned heads on Black Friday by encouraging less consumption with an ad campaign boldly entitled "Don't Buy This Jacket." Last year, it kept the alternative holiday shopping trend going with its "Worn Wear" campaign, which called on consumers to repair rather than replace.

9. Panera Bread, “Live Consciously. Eat Deliciously.”

In another campaign featuring a Rube Goldberg machine, this ad from Panera Bread puts social consciousness front and center. The ad showcases both its commitment to wholesome food (like antibiotic-free chicken) and its dedication to feeding the hungry with nightly donations.

10. Woodgreen Community Service, “Homeward Bound”

Created by Woodgreen Community Service, a Toronto-based organization that helps the underprivileged and elderly, this ad campaign challenges viewers to care as much about those living in poverty as they do about celebrities. Despite a small budget, news of the campaign traveled fast earlier this year after it was featured on BuzzFeed.

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is an editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared on the Huffington PostSustainable BrandsEarth911 and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.

Mary Mazzoni headshotMary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni is the senior editor of TriplePundit and director of TriplePundit's Brand Studio. She is based in Philadelphia and loves to travel, spend time outdoors and experiment with vegetarian recipes in the kitchen. Along with TriplePundit, her recent work can be found in Conscious Company and VICE’s Motherboard.

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni