FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Tech

The Ads of TED: The Commercials that Captivated America's Intellectual Elite This Week (Video)

TED, America's ideas conference par excellence, is all about the "ideas worth spreading," but it's inevitable, hard as the organizers try: many of the blockbuster speeches that blow up the annual conference can feel like ads for the speakers themselves...

TED, America’s ideas conference par excellence, is all about the “ideas worth spreading,” but it’s inevitable, hard as the organizers try: many of the blockbuster speeches that blow up the annual conference can feel like ads for the speakers themselves. This year, TED experimented with another kind of advertising: advertising.

“These are ads so good that people will just want to watch them,” TED’s organizer Chris Anderson proclaimed at the start of the star-studded conference, when he kicked off a series of ads that ran throughout the week. All ten ads, part of a program called “Ads Worth Spreading,” were selected by the TED team in recent months from thousands of submissions. No money changed hands, said Anderson, but the experiment seemed resonant with TED’s increasingly cozy relationship with corporations. "To make a difference in this world, you have to engage corporations," he told the press, referring to some pushback over TED talks this year by the CEOs of Pepsi and Ford about their companies’ efforts at social change. "We want to change how corporations talk to us—they should talk to us like adults."

Advertisement

No one would disagree; nor would many argue that we’re living in a heady new era in which the lines between content and marketing can be nearly invisible. But companies already have plenty of time and space to talk to us like adults about all the great stuff they’re doing — and selling. At TED Active in Palm Springs, where I watched the Long Beach event on live telecast, a few of the attendees were skeptical that the companies really needed this venue too.

In addition to the roughly $6,000 entrance fee (about $3,000 at TED Active), TED already relies upon significant corporate support — from companies like Shell, Delta, and many others — in order to the event, the organization, and the servers that stream all of the ideas worth spreading to the Internet. Perhaps that stream will soon include ads too.

Here are the top-notch advertisements that captivated TED’s brainy audience (and made me wonder if TED could become the new Clio Awards), starting with another car ad, this one for Ford competitor Chrysler, and ending with my favorite, a moving spot for an AIDS campaign in South Africa.

Chrysler, “Born of Fire”
Wieden + Kennedy

Batelco, “Infinity”
FP7/DXB, Bahrain

Dulux, “Dulux Walls”
Euro RSCG London

Hornbach and HEIMAT Berlin, “Infinite House”
@radical.media

Intel, “The Chase”
Venables Bell & Partners

Nike Foundation, “Girl Effect, The Clock is Ticking”
Wieden + Kennedy

Nokia, “The World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Character Animation”
Wieden + Kennedy London

Advertisement

Savory Institute, “Changing Our Future”
Foresight Multimedia

Target, “Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular”
Mother New York and Legs Media

The Topsy Foundation, “Selinah”
Ogilvy Johannesburg

Related:
The Best of Technology at TED 2010
4chan’s Founder at TED: LOLing Cats, Rescuing Cats, Protecting Anonymity
TEDxOilSpill: Not Your Neighbors’ Oil Spill Solutions