The sudden acquisition of self-knowledge can hit you like a runaway piano. Judging by the online branded video marketing stuffs that moved, amused or otherwise delighted me in 2012, I am apparently a nostalgic sap with blind spots for straight-talkin' PSAs and humor that registers south of NPR's "Jocular! With Ira Glass" on the sophistication-ometer. None of this makes me proud. My parents once hoped I'd work with children.
I did the worst-of-the-year thing a few weeks ago. In the interest of balance, then, here's a list of my favorite 2012 clips. They're presented in no particular order and with a gimmicky awards component designed to distract your attention from the repurposing of gently worn content. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013, y'all.
Campaign I Loved Even Though The Product Being Campaigned For Makes My Rashes Break Out In Hives: "Anarchy: The Graphic Novel". The napalm-and-burnt-feathers pong of Axe body sprays may set my nasal passages aflame and line my lungs with chemical residue, but no marketer better understands its target audience. Childish innuendo doesn't come any more merrily, unapologetically over-the-top.
Best Turbo-Branding Of A Previously Unknown Organization: Kony 2012. Pre-Kony vid, I assumed Invisible Children was the name of a band from Brooklyn. Post-Kony vid, I tagged the group as the rare nonprofit able to keep its head above water in the social-media whirlpool. I may not have agreed with the clip's WE ARE HISTORY MAKERS MAKING HISTORY conceit, but I admired the commitment and depth of passion. Which reminds me: Is Kony still at large? Follow-up isn't our collective strength; four months from now, a thought about Newtown will flutter at the edge of our subconscious.
Internet Clip/Tchotchke I Loved That I Would've Loved Even More If It Had More Than A Peripheral Connection To The Brand Being Plugged: "First Car Story". I liked sharing my first-car story ("The Be-Pooped Love Camry") and thoroughly enjoyed seeing it auto-animated by the nice man/lady inside the Internet. I only wish I could remember which automaker was behind the program. Nissan, maybe?
Most Warm-And-Fuzzy-Feeling-Generating Use Of Non-Animatronic Moppets: "Saving For Skydiving". Fidelity's message ("if you save or invest money, you will be able to use it to purchase desired goods or services at an indeterminate date in the future") was worthy. The delivery of that message - by schoolkids, acting out a nonagenarian's financial life story - was uncommonly warm, funny and wise, especially given its big-financial-firm backing.
PSA Delivered So Calmly And Straightforwardly That It Didn't Make Me Flinch At The Thought Of Grandpa's Engorged Doodle: "Safe Sex For Seniors". A few more frank, celebratory clips like this, and we'll be able to discuss matters of intimacy without first checking to see if there are prudes or Republicans in the immediate vicinity.
Most Non-Cloyingly, Ass-Kickingly Inspirational Call To Arms: "Meet the Superhumans". After watching this gritty, unsentimental tribute to the athletes competing in the Paralympic Games, I felt like head-butting a tree - in an energetic, let's-do-this! kind of way, not in a my-skull-will-finish-what-the-Nor'easter-couldn't one.
Best Olympic Tie-In/Espousal Of The Virtues Of Hard Work And Sacrifice/Inducement To Call Mom And Tell Her You Love Her Right Friggin' Now: "Best Job/P&G London 2012 Olympic Games Film". Somewhere in marketing land, somebody approached somebody else and said, "We need something that serves the dual purpose of hyping our Olympic sponsorships and acknowledging Mother's Day." And that second somebody didn't attempt to hang himself with his own shoelaces, as I might have in the same situation, and instead blended the two disparate missions with appealing understatement. Them's good marketing multitasking.
Charitable Appeal That Reduced Me To A Puddle In Full View Of My Infant Son, Who Was All Like "Dude, Pull It Together": "Emily's Story". Children in peril + twinkly animation + music-box melodies = LD on his knees. Heartbreak/hope cocktails are a crusher.
Least Preachy Don't-Be-A-Dumbass Financial Adviceification: "Don't Major In Debt". Are YouTube videos tattoo-able? If so, graft this one onto the forehead of every 16-year-old you know. They'll thank you down the road.
Fondest Reminder Of Post-Indulgence Late-Night College Brainstorming Sessions: "Hot Pockets Limited Edition Infomercial". In 2012, Beavis and Butt-Head were on my TV set and "Hot Pockets Limited Edition Infomercial" was on my computer. You can go home again; don't let anyone tell you otherwise.