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BNET's 10 Best Ads of 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, it's time to recognize the marketers whose work was the best of the year. The ranking is entirely subjective: I looked at originality, entertainment value, and success stories, and these were the brands and the campaigns that stood out. Congratulations to the winners, these are BNET's 10 Best Ads of the Year. (Coming tomorrow: BNET's 10 Worst Ads of the Year.)

10. Kevin Bacon for Logitech Revue/Google TV
Bacon's self-effacing performance as his own creepy, middle-aged fan makes this ad. Check out the receding hairline and the paunch. The best part is the number of bad Bacon movies he references (Footloose, Tremors, etc). Remember, this is that actor who also did Mystic River, Sleepers and Stir of Echoes. Bravo.

9. Levi's -- "Guy Walks Across America"
A simple idea, powerfully executed: A stop-action collage of a man literally walking across the continental U.S. Half its charm is in figuring out how they did this. The other half is in recognizing places you've been as they flash by at more than one per second.

8. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas -- "Just the right amount of wrong"
Certainly the most original hotel ad of the year, and as it doesn't show any of Sin City's flashing lights, gambling tables or use a Sinatra song it's also the most original Vegas ad of the year.
The attention to detail in this ad -- and the music choice -- make it a compelling sell.

7. Tooheys Extra Dry -- "Portals"
Little-seen but well worth a click: A man at a house party reaches into a tub of ice for a beer and is sucked onto a frozen planet populated by thirsty tongues.

6. Domino's Pizza -- "Turnaround"
Creatively it breaks no new ground, but as a concept it was high risk: The ad starts by describing Domino's as "mass produced, boring, bland pizza." The self-flagellation gets worse from there. The company promised to reinvent its product, and sales went up as a result.

5. Nespresso -- John Malkovich and George Clooney in "Cab driver"
One of those ads that would draw protests from religious types in the U.S., but on its own terms is hilarious: Clooney is threatened by God for not turning over his supply of flavored Nespresso capsules.

4. Virgin Atlantic -- "Your airline's either got it or it hasn't"
Virgin can't compete on price or number of routes so it decided to dominate the third reason for which people choose airline tickets: extravagant sexiness.

3. Old Spice -- "Smell like a man, man"
The most talked about ad of the year, certainly, and we've all seen it so many times that it's a little grating at this point but ... it was still the freshest personal care ad of 2010. I liked the second version better -- featuring the dive into a motorbike-filled jacuzzi -- but the original deserves the shout-out.

2. Virgin Mobile et al. -- Lady Gaga's "Telephone"
The singer's 9 minute epic with Beyonce, set in a women's prison, was seen by 95 million people this year. And it's jammed with product placements, including Virgin Mobile, Miracle Whip and Diet Coke.

1. Sussex Safer Roads -- "Embrace Life"
A mere description of this ad -- a mimed car crash done entirely in slow motion -- doesn't do it justice. It's just so utterly, unexpectedly, compelling and moving. With 12 million YouTube views and counting, this ad demonstrates that even a local client with a limited budget can dominate in online video.


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