By Constance Parten, CNBC.com
As the old adage goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Nothing could be truer when it comes to advertising. Great ads can yield dramatic results, but if the product quality isn't there, well, that horse won't be pulling out the platinum card anytime soon.
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Still, great ad campaigns can be revolutionary. They can change the way people live their daily lives-for better or for worse. By its own admission, AdAge refers to its selection of the top advertising campaigns of the 20th century as including: "two air polluters, nutritionless sugar water, one reviled carcinogen, two companies infamous for the use of virtual slave labor, one purveyor of savory cardiovascular time bombs, two booze peddlers and one cosmetic product preying on the vanity of women."
For better or for worse, here we celebrate the Top 10 advertising campaigns of the 20th century and, of course, the products that went along with them.
AdAge.com, DeBeers.comDeBeers' "A Diamond is Forever"
Agency: N.W. Ayer & Son
An advertising campaign can last forever as well, it seems. Or at least 63 years and going strong.
As the De Beers website explains, "In 1947 a young copywriter called Frances Gerety was working with De Beers and was given a brief to compose a line that encompassed and expressed the physical attributes and legends surrounding the diamond. The understanding is that she worked late into the night on the challenging brief and, about to admit defeat, she then scribbled the sentence which would later be voted as the most iconic advertising slogan of the twentieth century-A Diamond Is Forever. Books and films of cult status have been named after this tagline, and a song featuring the phrase has been recorded numerous times by some of the world's most popular artists."
AdAge.comNike's "Just Do It"
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
In 2008, Nike celebrated one of the most memorable advertising campaign slogans in history by creating new ads to air during the Beijing Olympic games.
Coca-Cola's "The Pause That Refreshes"
Agency: D'Arcy Co.
"I've always admired brands that preserve their core campaign for decades," wrote independent ad counsel Chris Macrae in an article on AllAboutBranding.com. "Coca-Cola provided a stunning example with 'Pause that Refreshes' (USA 1930s to 1950s) uplifting a nation at time of depression, championing a product which literally fuelled-emotionally and physically-what was then a developing nation, lobbying the US war office on the extreme fatigue of war and thereby becoming the GI's mascot during World War 2 and making Coke available at 5c per bottle wherever GIs went."
Absolut Vodka's Absolut Bottle
The campaign was such a success that Absolut continues to use it today. In fact, according to AbsolutAds.com, "Absolut Vodka's advertising campaign is the world's longest-ever uninterrupted one. To date it comprises 1,450 original ads, with more added each month."
Clairol's "Does She... Or Doesn't She?"
Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding
How successful was this campaign? Well, Timemagazine wrote in a 1967 article , "The question, as every reader of advertisements knows, refers to artificial hair color-and the odds on an affirmative answer have dropped from 15 to 1 to 2 to 1 since Miss Clairol first asked it 11 years ago. Sales of tints, rinses and dyes have risen from $25 million to $186 million a year. So popular is their use that some states no longer require women to list their hair color on their driver's licenses."
See the complete list of the Top Ad Campaigns of the 20th Century
By Constance Parten, CNBC.com