A shot of billboards in downtown New York City. Voice Acting

The Best Ads of 2018 As Selected By Voices Staff

We’ve got two words for you: narrative and humor.

These are the two trends of the most successful ads in 2018.

Each year customers get savvier and companies have to be more creative with how they are getting through to consumers.

This shortlist of great commercials in 2018 has been compiled by Voices staffers. While our selections are diverse and sometimes personal, the common themes that emerged include content with a compelling story to tell and commercials poking fun at our current culture.

A great voice over performance is still very often one of the elements that help to make great ads shine, further to that is the integration of great scripting, casting, brand alignment, and production value.

Without further ado, our picks! We hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

#OfflineShopping at WINNERS, HomeSense, and Marshalls

Selected by Alina Morkin, Vice President of Marketing

“I think the execution is fantastic, both because of the spot itself, and the clever media buy (at least that I experienced). The first time I saw this ad was on Cyber Monday – a day when brands who don’t have online stores are clearly asking themselves, ‘How can we get a share of the huge amount of spending running from people’s wallets?’

“TJX Companies uses humor to remind us of all the benefits of the offline shopping experience, and effectively inserts themselves into the shopping decision set for consumers on a day when they decidedly would not have been before.”

What makes this commercial great:

TJX Companies, (which owns WINNERS, HomeSense and Marshalls) has a little fun with our frantic online shopping culture, on Cyber Monday no less.

“This holiday, experience the game-changing retail innovation we call: Offline Shopping,” the classic holiday-happy announcer reads.

In a world obsessed with software updates and new ways to reinvent the human experience, TJX takes us back to the basics. They come alongside those who feel like they can’t keep up with the ever-upgrading world of e-commerce and say, ‘How about we just go to the store and try it on?’

Yes. It’s amazing that we can check out what the latest pair of Adidas shoes will look like in Augmented Reality. But sometimes, people just want to touch and see the real thing. And TJX nails it.

New Weekday Eggs

Selected by Alina Morkin, Vice President of Marketing

“A classic challenge for any brand is how to increase usage opportunities as a way to increase sales. I love this spot, because it takes a usage insight and light-heartedly pokes fun at the consumer, challenging why they wouldn’t enjoy their eggs every day of the week.”

What makes this commercial great:

“Weekday eggs? Oh come on, you just took a normal egg and renamed it.”

A cheeky script knocking the ongoing phenomena of over-branding very basic things to our society to certify it as ‘cool’ and ‘down with the times.’

The Egg Farmers of Ontario take a page from the book of the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s 2017 hockey-hoser milk masterpiece.  

Come on, who could forget the iconic closing line in this painfully-crafted, nostalgically nuanced ad? “Hey boys, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

We’re living in the golden age of agricultural ads.

V8 Juice: This is 30 Calories

Selected by Sara Hunt, Senior Expansion Account Manager

“I like the format of the voice over script and simple visuals. The ‘this vs. that’ style of scriptwriting is fairly common and a great way for creatives to tell a story against visuals in a short amount of time.”

What makes this commercial great:

Most previous V8 spots are more cinematic and have on-screen actors. This one is a bit more punchy and edgy, which speaks to millennials. Campbell’s has been noticeably working to rebrand V8 as a healthy option for young people, and this spot helps bring them in that direction.

It also helps that it was worked on by Voices and voiced by Dean Wendt.

John Lewis’ – The Boy and The Piano

Selected by Jennifer Sadler, Channel Specialist – Social and Events Planning

“It follows the story of how Elton John began playing the piano and the piano that started it all for him. It doesn’t advertise anything but shows what the simple gesture of a gift can mean to the person who receives it. Plus, they had me hooked as soon as they started playing ‘Your Song’.”

What makes this commercial great:

The UK department store John Lewis does an impeccable job using this two-minute Christmas spot to tell a story and not sell a product. The ‘Benjamin Button-esque’ backward narrative takes the audience on a journey back through the generations and stages of Sir Elton John’s life.

This ad executes exactly what John Lewis set out to do: Tell a captivating Christmas tale of an English icon and deepen those brand trust bonds with the customer.  

Nature Valley | Ask Nature

Selected by Cynthia Nakad, Public Relations Specialist

“This ad brought out the human element in 2018. When everyone else was talking about the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence). It reminded us of the important things in life.”

“I like that they used the little girl to deliver the message. She brings out the little kid and the wonder in all of us. It’s just an incredible piece.”

What makes this commercial great:

Nature Valley has always been a solid granola bar brand, but over the last couple of years, they’ve really established their place in the market.

Their ‘Ask Nature’ spot firmly puts the stake in the ground: Nothing replaces nature.

Nature Valley cleverly crafted this script to show this little girl getting to the heart of the real life vs AI debate. Her AI assistant may have been able to tell her how many stars are in the sky but it has never seen one.

“But have you ever seen a shooting star? That’s what I thought.”  

They didn’t stop with ‘Ask Nature’ either. Nature Valley then dropped this fantastic ‘Nature Makes Us Better’ spot in September 2018, encapsulating their go-out-and-explore-the-world mantra.

SickKids VS: Join Your Crew

Selected by Keaton Robbins, Associate Writer

“What else needs to be said that hasn’t already been said about the amazing ‘SickKids VS:’ campaign? My heart was won over by last year’s iconic ‘SickKids VS: All In’, and now any SickKids VS: video that comes out can do no wrong in my eyes.”

“The story they’ve been able to tell, gathering everyone in every community under one banner to go to war against childhood disease, resonates with every human being.”

What makes this commercial great:

SickKids have built a fundraising campaign for a new building that inspires more than any other hospital campaign I’ve ever come across.

What made 2017’s ‘SickKids VS: All In’ so special, was how it showed every kid in the city coming together to fight and build a new SickKids hospital.

This year’s rally cry, ‘SickKids VS: Join Your Crew’, shifts to calling on all the adults in every nook and cranny of the city to unite in the darkness and fight for the kids at the hospital who can’t.

The Fixies. The Straight-Razors. The Chefs. The Techies. The Dog People….and The Cat People.

It’s produced in a ‘Dark Knight-esque’ raw and edgy manner to illustrate all these groups of people in the city that never typically associate with each other. This army is gathered outside the hospital during an inspiring pre-battle speech with the kids overlooking from their rooms.

“I salute you all. You, the brave souls who answered the call…A new SickKids will rise where you now stand.”

This spot does a great job helping the viewer associate with “their crew” and gives them a real sense of ownership in the fight for childhood health.

Google Duo: High Quality Video Calling

Selected by David Bortolussi, Account Manager

“I love the script because of how relevant it is in today’s world. Everyone uses different video calling apps, and it’s known that there’s always connectivity issues. I like that this script challenges that, asking why it has to be that way, when we can do so many other things with today’s technology so simply. I also like how the script interacts with the video, commenting directly on what we see. It allows them to juxtapose different aspects of technology and highlight how silly it is that video calling is still difficult to achieve.”

“Everyone who has friends and/or family around the world know how difficult it can be to connect with them, and this ad shows that it doesn’t have to be so hard! I also love how it shows so many people from different backgrounds and different types of families/relationships.”

What makes this commercial great:

I also love the voice over (of course!). The team chose to go with Melody Schaal, a fellow Canadian, whose voice is relatable, friendly, and delivers the script perfectly, making viewers think, ‘Yeah, why is video calling so hard?’

It stands out to me because of its simplicity, having just the phone on a white background, and the way they interspersed that simplicity with what seems to be home video footage, making it seem like this ad and this product is for everybody.

Want More Examples of the Best Ads 2018?

Check out these great resources to see what other industry leaders are saying are the ‘best commercials of 2018’ to this point:

AdWeek’s Top Ads of the Year
AdWeek – YouTube Leaderboard
Radio Mercury Awards (Winners)

Video Ad Trends in 2019

While a lot of these spots were still your traditional 30 or 60-second ads, expect to see an increase in the popular 6-second ad in 2019. These quick ads are being used more and more on YouTube and can often leave a mark or brand recall that a longer ad can’t. We’re looking at you, Mom’s Touch chicken.

360 videos are becoming more common and as a result, we believe 360 video ads will also get more traction in 2019.

Finally, look out for more branded long-form content. Yes, this is the exact opposite of the 6-second ad. But the rise in brands doing some kind of mini-film or longer video series is blowing up. Yes, once again, not really falling into the category of a standard ad, but it’s still an advertisement for these brands nonetheless.  

What about you? What was your favorite commercial or campaign of 2018? What trends do you think we’ll see in ads for 2019?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

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  • Avatar for gabriella
    February 18, 2019, 9:38 am

    Not many female examples for us, hey?

    • Avatar for Tanya
      February 19, 2019, 8:23 am

      Hi Gabriella,
      Maybe not as many as we’d like in this instance – however, a lot goes into creating a great commercial, including script, acting, setting, etc. When it comes to female voices, what we DO know is that they are growing in popularity, and FAST. Voices.com conducts annual research into voice over trends, and the growth in demand for female voices has continued to accelerate, year over year. Plus, we also discovered that there is gender pay equity in voice acting too. You can read all about it here: https://www.voices.com/company/reports/future-trends-in-marketing-and-voice-over
      And of course, if you have a favorite female-voiced commercial, we’d love to have your suggestion! We create roundups often and it’d be great to have more content to add to the next one 😉
      All the best,