Advertising doesn’t have to be about convincing you to buy things. Great ads, just like great movies, can inspire thought. That’s why TED created Ads Worth Spreading, an initiative dedicated to advertisements that push the boundaries, from Chipotle’s stunning “Back to the Start” commercial to L’Oreal Paris’ spot starring model and athlete Aimee Mullins. As TED begins to think about next year’s winners, who will be announced at TED2013 in Long Beach, the innovation-focused website PSFK asked TED’s head of global partnerships, Ronda Carnegie, more about the program. Below, some highlights of the interview.
How did the idea for Ads Worth Spreading come about?
Ads Worth Spreading was born out of our search for compelling advertising. We want to feature campaigns that are as fascinating as our talks. All our ads run as post-roll (after the talks), and we want our viewers to choose to watch those ads because they’re interesting, engaging, funny or beautiful. It’s hard to find ads that good, but it shouldn’t be.
We launched Ads Worth Spreading in 2010 as a clarion call to brands that want to communicate authentic and interesting ideas to their consumers in the same way that TED wants to communicate with its audience — by sharing powerful ideas. We want to reward companies that have invested in creating advertising that values human attention and intelligence, and takes the time to tell a thought-provoking story.
Is advertising dead? In what ways do these concepts reflect the evolution of thinking in advertising?
No, advertising is far from dead. New media, new devices and more discerning audiences present challenges to the industry, but with every new challenge comes opportunity. At TED, we have benefited greatly from the intellectual evolution of the audience. Six years ago, the industry would not have predicted massive popularity for online talks on math, science, design and technology – but we recently reached one billion video views on TED.com alone.
As smart content becomes more popular, audiences expect more than ever from advertisers. Through Ads Worth Spreading, we’re seeing that people appreciate long-form advertising that is idea-driven, with meaningful storytelling and high production values. Viewers want to experience an emotional connection.