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The best ads of 2012 (picked by those in the know) Add to ...

It’s the most retrospective time of the year. And who better to choose the best advertising of 2012 than the people who make the ads – and are privately awash in envy when they see one they wish they’d made? We asked some of the Canadian ad industry’s influential minds for their picks. Here are their thoughts on the best of the year:

“Our Food. Your Questions.”

Advertiser: McDonald’s Canada

Ad agency: TribalDDB Canada

Chosen by: Judy John, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Canada; and Allen Oke, executive creative director, TBWAToronto

McDonald’s Corp. has had its share of public relations difficulties, but it scored a success in a small corner of the company this year – the Canadian operations, where a digital-only campaign launched in June with the simple proposal that the company would answer any question about its food. The resulting videos caught attention beyond Canadian borders, expanded to include a TV ad, and reached a goal that is upheld across the industry – creating “content” that customers actually want to watch. Opening up that conversation was “brave,” Mr. Oke said.

Ms. John chose this campaign “because I love smart ideas that solve business problems,” she said. “McDonald’s had a business problem: People wondered about the food. The idea gets at the heart of the problem and solves it. And this idea is big, it goes beyond a program or promotional idea. It’s a platform. It’s authentic, it’s social, it’s getting buzz. And when I saw this idea, I thought ‘That’s so smart; damn, I wish I’d done that.’”

“Samsung Galaxy S III – Work Trip”

Advertiser: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Ad agency: 72andSunny

Chosen by: Ed Lee, Director of social media, TribalDDB Toronto

For years, Apple Inc. has gotten away with taking shots at its competitors while declaring its own products magical. Recently, Samsung has made waves with funny, smart advertising and a campaign declaring, “The next big thing is already here,” deriding Apple fans as the kind of mindless followers Apple once mocked in its iconic 1984 Super Bowl ad. But of all of the ads that make up Samsung’s campaign for the release of its Galaxy S III smartphone, Mr. Lee’s favourite is an unassuming 30-second spot that showcases a feature that allows for file sharing by tapping phones together. A father leaving on a business trip is given a video from his daughters to watch on the plane, and another from his wife – not for public consumption.

“As the smartphone market continues to explode, it becomes harder and harder for products to stand out from the crowd. So many products focus on the new features but fail to convey the real benefits of those features to users,” Mr. Lee said. “That’s why my favourite ad of the year comes from Samsung for the S III, illustrating how the ‘phone bump’ file transfer can make the busy business traveller’s life more enjoyable; with a twist at the end that had me laughing, sharing, and considering a Samsung S III. A very charming and surprising spot that as a side benefit may save the world from exorbitant Internet charges at hotels.”

Nike+ FuelBand

Advertiser: Nike Inc.

Ad agency: R/GA New York

Chosen by: Brent Choi, chief creative officer, Cundari Group

Mr. Choi’s favourite this year was not an ad, but a device that represents a new way to engage with consumers. He chose Nike’s FuelBand, the basis of an entire system for users to stay active, set fitness goals, and track their athletic lives. The company created Fuel, a points system to measure physical movement of any type. The wristband tapped into applications for mobile devices, the Web and social media to allow people to brag about their progress and compare it with others. The preorder for the device sold out in minutes. The FuelBand won an armful of awards at the Cannes Lions advertising festival this summer.

“What they’ve done here has elevated themselves beyond adidas and Reebok. And in turn, become a core part of their consumers’ lives,” he said. “There’s a clear and meaningful trend occurring and it’s from engagement – ads – to utility, innovation. Ads are still critical. … But the new way to touch consumers uses creativity applied in new, wonderful ways.”

“Sunny Sale”

Advertiser: South Korean retailer Emart

Ad agency: Cheil Worldwide, Seoul

Chosen by: Luc Du Sault, partner, vice-president and creative director, lg2

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