The ads of 2007: Ad-mirable to ad-dlebrained

According to both armchair critics and advertising pros, 2007 ranked with the best of times for TV and online video commercials — or it was a disaster.

To help select the year's most memorable ad moments in 10 major categories, the Ad Team asked readers to give us their picks at usatoday.com and also gathered opinions from advertising industry experts.

The responses included an outpouring for ads that people loved, or loved to hate.

The dialogue also included, however, comments from readers — and some ad executives — depressed by almost all video ads.

"Commercials insult my intelligence, make fun of people (mostly men), talk in poor grammar and clichés and perpetuate stereotypes," wrote reader Janice Brown, a technology marketing consultant in Wentworth, N.H. "If you have any respect for yourself, you will turn off your TV permanently."

Nick Law, North American chief creative director at ad agency R/GA, was even more Scrooge-like. When asked for an ad that made him misty-eyed, he responded: "Nothing. Advertising has turned my soul as black as coal."

For the record, reaction to Geico's cavemen ads — which this fall became the basis for a TV sit-com — was strong in both directions.

Based on the views of readers, advertising insiders and the Ad Team, here is a look at 2007's highlights — for better and for worse — in video advertising.

Contributing: Theresa Howard in New York and Bruce Horovitz in McLean, Va.

2007's best ad (and a marketing home run):Frito-Lay Doritos

Sorry, Madison Avenue. The best video ad of 2007 was created on a budget of 12 bucks by an amateur admaker who won Frito-Lay's contest to "make your own Doritos Super Bowl ad."

The romantic tale of two Doritos lovers who meet on the street beat more than 1,000 other homemade ads to air before the Super Bowl's huge audience in February.

The promotion also got more than 1,000 consumers to buy chips, videotape themselves with them and upload video praise.

Then, those Doritos-touting videos were viewed about 4 million times on the Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" website.

Meanwhile, a crush of media coverage of the novel contest, before and after the game, brought the brand free publicity worth millions of dollars more.

Marketing mission accomplished!

Best online 'viral' video:Unilever Dove

The Evolution Web video from Unilever's unDove brand attempts to show how much cosmetic, hair and digital trickery is needed to turn a real woman into a glamorous billboard image.

The kicker: "No wonder our perception of beauty is so distorted."

The ad, by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, is part of Dove's three-year "Campaign for Real Beauty," which aims to debunk impossible body image ideals and celebrate "real" beauty. Evolution was viewed more than 10 million times since it was posted and passed virally by users across the Internet.

The video also generated backlash, as well as praise.

Some consumers saw a double-standard by Unilever: promoting self-esteem in ads for Dove women's products, while often featuring sexy, scantily clad women in ads for its male-oriented Axe fragrances.

Many advertising pros weren't thrilled by the video's not-so-subtle shot at the industry that keeps the beauty care brand's products moving. And that theme was made even more explicit in a later Dove video, Onslaught, which showed a montage of unrealistic beauty images in ads to which a girl is exposed.

Best (not-so) special effects:Toyota Tundra pickup

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