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“Annoying” is the word most commonly associated with ads. But as you might have discovered through the decades of telly-watching, advertisements aren’t the problem. Bad advertisements are. Not surprisingly, advertising by its very nature is designed less to inform. The best ads evoke. Nostalgia, hope, dreams…or as we shall discover here – inspiration.

The idea behind this post came from Microsoft’s ad  as it prepares to hit the Superbowl even as it hits the headlines for being empowering. By the time you read this post, you might have seen the ad play out on screens. It may or may not get a spot on the all time list of great ads. But the ten inspiring ads below certainly have made their claim over the years. The ads might have outlived their commercial usefulness, but the timelessness of their inspirational messages are still enshrined on YouTube.

Nike – Find Your Greatness

Forget the shoes and the apparel. Nike made its business iconic with its promotional campaigns. This is just a sample from the many good ones Nike regularly airs. It perhaps hits truer to home because it inspires us to take one step outside our front doors and do something about our health. The ad with the 13 year old Nathan was just one from its “Find Your Greatness” campaign launched before the 2012 London Olympics.  Here’s the entire playlist with the message — Greatness isn’t only for the chosen few. Which is your favorite Nike commercial?

Adidas – Winning is Easy

If Nike is there, can Adidas be far behind. “Impossible is nothing” is their usual response to “Just do it”. But this one is different as it shows a young boy fulfilling his dream to be a track and field star while escaping from an unhappy childhood. An old and torn pair of Adidas running shoes sparks his goal.

Michael Jordan – Become Legendary

There are many beautiful sights in the world. One of them has to be Michael Jordan in slow-mo. The ad reduces the legend to the level of a mere mortal. But it leaves us with the message that he too had to go through his share of failures and hard work. There is no excuse for hard work, even if you are as talented as Air Jordan. Watch this YouTube video to enjoy him in full flight.

Microsoft – Celebrating Heroic Women

Forget Redmond’s  cringe-worthy video ads 5 Microsoft Video Ads Sure To Make You Cringe 5 Microsoft Video Ads Sure To Make You Cringe I have ripped on Apple quite a bit here on MakeUseOf in recent weeks. Partly because a company of that size and stature deserves to get taken down a peg or two from time to... Read More . This one made it up for all of them. The video shows Malala Yousafzai setting up the tribute to heroic women from last year who made a difference to our world. From the young Pakistani education activist to Margaret Thatcher, the ad showed us what spirit, courage, and perseverance can achieve. And of course, it mentioned a little bit about the Bing Search Engine as well.

Monster – Are You Reaching Your Potential?

Hunting for a new job is a thankless task. But it’s also a good time to reevaluate your passions and strengths. The Monster job-site ad takes the old story of the stork delivering a baby and spins it around. The stork re-visits the baby when he is all grown up and working in what appears to be an dead end job for him. The stork is disappointed at the promise unrealized and flies away into the night.

Saga – Dare

Dare to change. Dare to go beyond the usual. The ad from Saga, the contemporary clothing line shows young women avoiding the next step forward and instead taking one back. True to any success story, the ad goes on to show the fears being defeated. In life, it just takes a split-second single step in the right direction.

Dove – Real Beauty

Simple message. Everyone is perfect in their own way. Cyndi Lauper’s song, “True Colors” accompanies the visuals that depict young girls with the usual self-esteem issues common to all cultures at tender ages. The commercial wants to reaffirm what always needs to be reaffirmed even if nearly a decade has passed since the ad aired. The media manipulated images of picture perfect beauty continues to scar young minds. Pair it with this creative Dove advertisement released last year around the same campaign. 

Discovery Chanel – The World Is Just Awesome

This ad could be a favorite for anyone who is a traveler at heart. The ad was part of a Discovery channel branding campaign called — I Love the Whole World. It featured clips from different parts of the globe and you can find several alternate versions of the ad on YouTube. Come to think of it, any travel commercial done just as well is inspirational if you have an incurable traveling itch.

Robinson’s – Pals

Emotional and elevating. I can’t say anymore about this story of two “friends” because it will reveal the message that unfolds in the last second of the video. So, do watch it till the end. It is more profound than it appears at the beginning.

Apple — Think Different

Perhaps one of the most famous ads of all time. Period. It brought back a company from the dead, and more than that, it catalyzed the beginning of a revolution in personal computing. Wikipedia has it all on a dedicated page.  Richard Dreyfuss reads as the simple visuals invoke Steve Jobs’ philosophy. Apple’s slogan perhaps sums up the science of inspiration perfectly – you have to think different if you want to change your life and make it better!

Matt Damon’s character in “We Bought A Zoo” says, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. YouTube’s many inspirational videos 8 Inspirational Videos That Will Instantly Pump Up Your Motivation 8 Inspirational Videos That Will Instantly Pump Up Your Motivation How do you feel about motivational videos? You may think that they’re nothing more than glorified, digital pep rallies where overly optimistic people preach empty words of success, victory, and ultimately happiness. And to some... Read More give you many seconds more to pump up your courage.When you have those, and then some motivational TED Talks 10 Motivational TED Talks To Help You Chip Away At Your Mental Blocks 10 Motivational TED Talks To Help You Chip Away At Your Mental Blocks The valuable lesson from the lives of achievers is that they chip away at their mental blocks more consistently than others. Ten TED Talks underscore one simple thing – it’s all in the mind. Read More to help break the mental blocks, why would you waste your time on commercials? Maybe because, commercials are also creative stories. Some of the better spun ones make you hold the channel switch and instead hold on to good thoughts.

Admit it. There are some great inspirational commercials out there. Which ones are your favorites? Tell us better with YouTube links if you can.

Image Credit: tableatny (via Flickr)

  1. Kyem G
    February 9, 2014 at 10:19 am

    How could you forget the Google Reunion ad Saikat da?? I was expecting the ad in this list as this article... Google's Reunion ad is one of the most inspiring ad shot in 2013

    • Saikat B
      February 10, 2014 at 6:04 am

      Hi Kyem,

      Didn't add that because it is India-centric and many won't get the message. Plus, it got so much of media attention that I figure everyone should have seen it by now. But thanks anyways for mentioning it.

    • Kyem G
      February 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Sorry for the typos in my previous comment.. Well I understand you... But still I think this ad needs to be shared under the 'most inpirational n influential ads' tag..
      Here is the youtube link where this ad has got english subtitles.. Share if you can...
      http://youtu.be/3Ss68c-Nl4Y

    • Aibek E
      February 11, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Hey Kyem,

      Just watched it. Inspiring indeed) Thanks for posting it here.

      Aibek

    • Kyem G
      February 12, 2014 at 1:26 am

      My pleasure.. This ad has got two more parts.. I'll be sharing these here if I find them with english subtitles..

    • Saikat B
      February 12, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Kyem. I will include them here if I come across them.

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