The best of the 2013 advertising

I am not going to lie; there were tears, laughter and utter silent disbelief. Every year there are numerous campaigns and commercials that make you smile, laugh or cry, or even make you wish you were part of the team that came up with the concept. And then every so often there is a commercial that comes along that just leaves you speechless.

Forget - just for an instance - that these short videos are advertisements and primarily trying to increase brand awareness and increase sales, and simply enjoy their creativity and the human moment they create.

Volvo Trucks - The Epic Split feat. Van Damme

Watch Jean-Claude Van Damme carry out his famous split between two reversing trucks (with one of Enya's all time best sellers as soundtrack). Never done before, JCVD says it's the most epic of splits. This live test was set up to demonstrate the precision and directional stability of Volvo Dynamic Steering -- a world first technology that makes the new Volvo FM easier to drive. 

John Lewis - The Bear & The Hare

Watch the new John Lewis Christmas TV advert and see Hare give his best friend Bear a Christmas he'll never forget. Set in a beautiful forest, poor Bear is the only animal that never gets to celebrate Christmas because he has to hibernate every year. However, this year is different. This year Hare has a brilliant idea. If this does not bring tears to your eyes then you simply have no soul.

Dove - Real Beauty Sketches

Women are their own worst beauty critics. Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. At Dove, we are committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. So, we decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see. And don't forget: YOU are more beautiful than you think!

Google - Search Reunion (Use captions to translate the film in 9 languages but frankly you don't need them as the images tell the story)

Partitions divide countries, friendships find a way. The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 separated many friends and families overnight. A granddaughter in India decides to surprise her grandfather on his birthday by reuniting him with his childhood friend (who is now in Pakistan) after over 6 decades of separation, with a little help from Google Search.

These commercials have all achieved the wholly grail in advertising - getting millions of people to absorb, share and engage (with) the brand's content without it ever feeling like a sales push. Consumers might not be loyal to these brands, they might not have purchased - or will ever purchase - any of the brand's services or products but they are sharing those brand names and engaging with the content. 

In some cases these ads might be turned into memes or parodies increasing somewhat their lifespan and often engaging with a whole new audience. In the Volvo trucks' case, Van Damme's faces was replaced by Mayor Rob Ford, and you get #vanford. I ask you, what more could you ask for as a brand.

Finally, what all these commercials have in common is stunning imagery, the perfect soundtrack and the power to take you on an emotional journey - and escape if you may - for just a few minutes. There are not merely brilliant commercials, creative content or ingenious marketing strategies. These commercials are great examples of the power of beautiful storytelling, because that is precisely what they are - stories worth telling. 

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn