I've had plenty of requests for more posts on ads that I do like, but to be honest, they just don't come up that often. And even most of the good ones aren't great, they just aren't terrible. However, there are some ads up right now (and not enough of them) that are truly great. Those for Drive.
The problem with great work, however, is that it's difficult to say much about it. To simply list everything that makes it great nearly ruins it. It's usually better to just behold. But if I must...
First and foremost, the title. For this type of movie, it would have been really easy to go with a font like this, or this, or this. Those first two are weak-ass. The third is meh. But this pink script is the not-obvious perfect choice. Juxtaposed against Brian Cranston, Christina Hendricks, and Ryan Gosling's collective H.A.M.-ness, it works perfectly.
The white frame also works wonders, allowing the hot pink script to spill over the image beautifully. The lighting and composition obviously play big parts in the success of these posters as well. However, it would be a stretch to call this unique series "original." These one-sheets immediately conjure thoughts of the 80's that lead not back to the 80's, but to 2006 and Marie Antoinette. A quick search yielded the following image:
Pretty similar. Still, I remember watching that trailer, seeing the hot pink title slap across the 18th century French aristocracy, and being completely impressed by how easily and immediately that put forth Sofia Coppola's thesis: that here was the first brat, the original "me" generation. (Is that right? I actually haven't seen it.)
Not sure what message the creators of the Drive campaign were trying to send, but it looks fantastic anyway. Take a look at some of the billboard images:
If you're a regular reader, you'll recognize LA is not OK's favorite thing: filling the frame without being too busy. It's clean, uncluttered, and so much better than a ton of white space. The tagline is similarly simplistic, and amazingly pun-free. To take it a step further, the first and third of these billboards are truly great because they start to tell a story. Not quite as well as say, The Hangover, but you do get a sense of situation here, an obvious conflict between characters. Also notable is that the star of the film appears in both of these, yet not only is he not the focus, he is hardly noticeable (in the scorpion jacket on top, the chin on the bottom).
Let's take a look at another campaign that did something similar, to show that it is possible to take it too far in the other direction.
These three images went up as billboards all over town for Crazy, Stupid, Love (albeit in English). They also start to tell a story, but a disparate one that without the context of the narrative, is less intriguing than it is confusing. Take the first of the Drive billboards. You think, they're getting onto an elevator, but there's going to be trouble. Now look at the Questo E Folle image. You know the sex fiend is going to bang the scared man, but especially in combination with the other two images here, as well as this, you have no idea what the tone of the movie is supposed to be. If you've seen it, you know they missed the mark. This campaign was actually on the higher end aesthetically, but the comparison to Drive shows just how solidly the former nailed it.
Unfortunately, Drive's main one-sheet is probably the weakest of the lot.