As 2015 comes to a close, we’d like to highlight some of the best campaigns that leveraged entertainment brands in one way or another this year. Actually, to build suspense we thought we’d do a countdown rather than a list.

The use of entertainment brands in advertising is becoming increasingly popular, as advertisers try their very best to engage and entertain in a world where viewers are in almost complete control. Ads can be skipped, muted and fast forwarded as content hungry consumers are presented with a buffet of VOD and catch-up options that can avoid advertising altogether. So what better way to tackle the issue than creating super engaging commercials that tie in with the very brands viewers love to consume? In turn, viewers not only pay attention, they are much more likely to talk about the ad and then go on to share it with others.

As online becomes increasingly important, we’ve also noted how many views some of the campaigns achieved on YouTube which gives a little insight into its viral success.

15. “Sorta You Isn’t You”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: Leo Burnett Chicago
Client: Esurance
Product: Insurance
Property: Breaking Bad

We kick off with the first of 3 Superbowl spots which appear in this list. Records were broken this year, as over 114 million viewers tuned into Superbowl. According to Forbes, 50% of those viewers switched on for the commercials. Advertisers splurged a whopping US$4.5 million per 30 second spot. This one is a great play on Walter White from Breaking Bad, an incredibly recognisable and popular character from the successful TV series which came to a close in 2013.

14. “It’s What You Do”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: The Martin Agency
Client: Geico
Product: Geico Insurance
Property: Operation
YouTube Views: 6,235,000+

It can be difficult to imagine how generational board games can be a part of modern day advertising. These are brands with high awareness and can bring cherished family memories, so if you get it right it will most certainly be worth it. This spot absolutely gets is right, for a client that isn’t afraid to take risks. It’s the first of two spots on this list from Geico’s ‘It’s What You Do Campaign’.

13. “Real Life Pacman”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: Energy/BBDO
Client: Anheuser-Busch InBev
Product: Bud Lite
Property: Pacman
YouTube Views: 21,977,000+

Another Superbowl ad, this time one that cleverly leverages the iconic gaming property Pacman. As with all of the Superbowl spots, this one generated a ridiculous amount of online hits and was one of the better commercials from the event. For us, we like the original approach of how the Pacman property was utilised.

12. “Can’t Play”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: CP+B
Client: Kraft Foods
Product: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Property: Star Wars

It is almost impossible to count the amount of Star Wars partnerships on the market this year leading up to the release of ‘The Force Awakens’. Major players HP, Google and Dodge all launched Star Wars themed campaigns, not to mention the retailers and branded product that has flooded the market. In general though we must admit that there was no real stand out campaign for us. We chose this one for Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese because it demonstrates the unique angle of leveraging the heritage of the toy collector rather than any character likeness, thematic elements or use of existing footage.

11. “Jake from Planet State Farm”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: DDB Chicago
Client: State Farm
Product: Insurance
Property: Coneheads

In June this year we were spoilt with a series of State Farm spots featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtain
as their characters from SNL sketch and 1993 film Coneheads. Remember them? State Farm does a great job at tapping into the nostalgia of an iconic property.

10. “Transform Your Home”

Market: Australia
Creative Agency: T20 Group
Client: Simonds Homes
Product: Big Brands Sale
Property: Transformers

Credit is due to any advertiser that goes to the lengths of developing their very own unique Transformer, and that is exactly what has been done in this campaign. We see a quiet, suburban neighbourhood shocked at the site of an enormous Transformer walking down the street. The level of detail allows us to see that it is in fact a house, made up of building materials and home products.

9. “Nursery”

Market: UK
Creative Agency: Joint London
Client: Amazon
Product: Amazon Prime
Property: Superman

This is the ‘heart warmer’ of the list. It’s also a favourite of ours because it demonstrates a way to use an iconic property like Superman purely with an outfit. It makes for a really sweet spot and caught a lot of attention online.

8. “The Chase”

Market: Global
Creative Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam
Client: Heineken
Product: Heineken Beer
Property: James Bond, Spectre
YouTube Views: 3,085,000+

Bond, James Bond – the property that manages to secure a raft of promotional partnerships whenever there is a movie release. This years October release of Spectre was no different, with brands like Sony, Gillette and Belvedere jumping on board. Our nod this year goes to Heineken, a long serving Bond partner which always manages to deliver a phenomenal campaign. It’s always impressive when the production values of an advertisement rivals that of the movie, and this one did just that.

7. “SKY Movies Christmas”

Market: UK
Creative Agency: WCRS London
Client: SKY
Product: SKY Broadband
Property: Cinderella, Night at the Museum, Big Hero 6, Avengers
YouTube Views: 2,014,000+

Broadcasters and VOD services are getting increasingly more creative with the way the advertise their content. Netflix and Hulu have both launched some great campaigns this year. However, this one is by far our favourite. Launched in November, we see a very clever use of movie properties as the star of the campaign Rosie finds herself immersed in their worlds. This was a big production, and it really paid off.

6. “Imagine the Possibilities”

Market: Global
Creative Agency: BBDO San Francisco
Client: Mattel
Product: Barbie
Property: Barbie
YouTube Views: 18,401,000+

This one is quite unique. It’s a campaign that leverages the brand Barbie FOR Barbie. We decided to add it to this list because it gained global attention when going live in October and is a great example of how a toy brand can be used in advertising. BBDO and Mattel could have gone with a typical doll advertisement with a kid playing with the toy. Instead they put together a 2 minute video that spread virally, and managed to generate a smile while adding a nice twist to the end.

5. “Fueled by the Future”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: Droga5
Client: Toyota USA
Product: Toyota Mirai
Property: Back to the Future
YouTube Views: 4,930,000+

‘Back to the Future Day’ falling on October 21 this year brought with it a plethora of high profile advertising tie-ins such as Burger King, Ford, Mercedes and Pepsi. Our favourite was the Toyota campaign, which featured the movie stars themselves Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly) and Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown). As it turns out, Marty and Doc were right about some of their predictions, one of them being fuel cell technology. Droga5 kicked off the campaign with a few teaser spots, and then this 5 minutes online video which was regarded as the best of the ‘Back to the Future Day’ campaigns.

4. “It’s What You Do”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: The Martin Agency Inc.
Client: Geico
Product: Insurance
Property: Dora the Explorer
YouTube Views: 2,880,000+

A second mention for Geico in this list, this time with everyones favourite Spanish 8 year-old Dora the Explorer. We’re quite fond of this one, because it cleverly integrates cartoon with live action which can be quite the challenge. And lets face it, who really expected Dora the Explorer to show up at the North Pole, or in a Geico advertisement? Not us! It garnered global attention and was regarded as the best so far of Geico’s ‘It’s What You Do’ campaigns.

3. “The Giant Crumpet Show”

Market: UK
Creative Agency: WCRS London
Client: Warburtons
Product: Bread, muffins, crumpets.
Property: The Muppets
YouTube Views: 2,051,000+

Warburtons love featuring characters in their advertising. Earlier this year Sylvester Stallone starred as Barney Ross, his character from The Expendables. In November, Warburtons started teasing the UK with the question of who will be the next star of the commercials, featuring British celebrities vying for the part. Come late November it was revealed that The Muppets had been chosen to star in an extravagant campaign, which went on to be considered the best of the Christmas adverts in the UK.

2. “Men in Black Safety Defenders”

Market: New Zealand
Client: Air New Zealand
Product: In flight safety video
Property: Men in Black
YouTube Views: 3,413,000+

Air New Zealand is no stranger to leveraging movie properties in their safety videos. Previously they’ve worked with The Hobbit, which had a pretty obvious connection to New Zealand. This time we see a connection between their national rugby team the All Blacks and iconic 1997 film Men in Black, launched in August. It was the third highest trending video in New Zealand for 2015, and received global attention thanks to the smooth moves of the players and the well loved hit song ‘Men in Black’.

1. “The Brady Bunch”

Market: USA
Creative Agency: BBDO New York
Client: Mars
Product: Snickers
Property: The Brady Bunch
YouTube Views: 14,891,000+

This one was always going to be hard to beat. We were first teased on Jan. 21 with Sons of Anarchy actor Danny Trejo channeling Marcia Brady, whetting our appetites for what was to be one of the most successful campaign of this years Superbowl. BBDO New York went on to win the Super Clio, awarded to the best Superbowl campaign each year. We love this one – yes its funny and entertaining – but we’re particularly fond of it because it demonstrates the creative ways entertainment brands like The Brady Bunch can be used in advertising. We’ve also added the ‘Making of’ video which will take you behind the scenes and show how the spot was made.

And that’s a wrap from us! I have no doubt that 2016 with bring with it even more phenomenal campaigns that make use of entertainment brands.