Our 26 Biggest Stories of 2013, Part One

High fiving sunbeams and eating dolphins, bro

They came. They saw. They made you click. They were our biggest stories of the year.

These posts were alternately embarrassing, inspiring, thought-provoking and barely comprehensible—but they attracted the most attention from our readers for reasons that we don’t always understand.

In fact, there were so many great ones in 2013 that we decided to double the original total of 13 to 26. What’s that, you ask? Of course we’re not splitting the list in half in order to get more posts up during the holiday season. What a ridiculous question!

On to the list, which we dedicate to our faithful readers. Let’s hope the news of stunts, mistakes and misdeeds gets a little brighter in 2014 (yeah, right).

 26. 10 Brands That Do Customer Service Right on Twitter

Do people still say “sweet?”

What’s more relevant to serving the public than public service on social media? Our days aren’t the old days—now a company can display its excellent (or not-so-excellent) problem-solving chops for the whole world to see on Twitter.

In honor of these 10 brands we say “Be excellent to each other“…and to the people who buy the crap you sell.

Oh, and if we didn’t pick you, please don’t be hurt. We only had like 90 minutes to write this list.

25. No, the Press Release Is Not Dead

Ask the press release

Despite some comms folks’ attempts to kill the press release deader than Kris Jenner‘s talk show, it’s still fighting the good fight—just in slightly different and continually evolving forms. (Seriously though, we secretly took pleasure in that dose of cosmic cancellation karma.)

24. Is PR a Job or a Lifestyle?

While visions of Red Bull cans danced through their heads

The answer, of course, was “it’s both!”…and about 95% of you guys got it right. Thanks for playing!

23.  Did Oreo Win Twitter Again? Yes they Did.

When chocolate fights chocolate everyone wins

Oh, Oreo and 360i, you magnificent bastards. The social folks inside your double-stuffed filling don’t just create awesome campaigns and quick-draw tweets—they also respond quite well to competitors’ challenges.

And they broke off a bigass piece of that Kit Kat bar.

22. Why Coke and Pepsi Will Talk Obesity but Not Diabetes

Too sweet to be scary

The two biggest names in carbonated sugar water may be locked in a fight to the death, but they do have one thing in common: they don’t want to talk about the fact that people who drink their products on a regular basis are far more likely to get diabetes.

Thanks to Michael Pollan for pushing this one onto the list. It’s an important public health conversation to have, too, so there’s that.

21. Naked Juice Bares All in False Advertising Settlement

The emperor’s new clothes were real all along

Yeah, it was a little disappointing to learn that our favorite overpriced fruit juice isn’t quite as “natural” as its marketing messages claim. But we love any excuse to make lame puns, and this story provided several. You know what? We still drink the stuff.

Also: does anyone remember Fresh Samantha? What happened to those guys?

20. PR Is One of the Top 10 ‘Most Misunderstood’ Jobs

The secret is Spanx

Short answer to the “so what do you do, exactly?” questions you’ve had to deal with this holiday season: no, I don’t tell Miley Cyrus how to sound and look more crazy. I do Batkid.

19. Paula Deen’s Carnival of Disaster Finally Hires Renowned PR Professional

Don’t cry for me, small-town America. The truth is I never left you.

We learned a lot about racists and fake tears this year, didn’t we? After a terrible hearing in the court of public opinion, Paula finally decided she needed to hire someone to teach her about words and what they mean. The only person who looked more ridiculous in a courtroom this year was Guy Fieri.


Oh Paula, you is what you is and we hope you never change…unless you want to keep making money selling fried stuff. If that’s the case, then you should definitely change.

18. BuzzFeed Shines an Unflattering Spotlight on Beyonce’s PR Team

Color blockin’

No, those “unflattering” Super Bowl shots weren’t the greatest ones Queen Bey took this year. But given the fact that a “please replace this pic and this pic and this pic” letter to BuzzFeed was the worst thing her PR team did, we think we can say the world was very ready for that jelly in 2013.

17. What Are America’s 10 Most Trusted Brands? And Why?

You’ll shoot someone else’s eye out, kid

Yes, we trust our friends at Amazon to deliver that $0.02 copy of To Kill a Mockingbird Spark Notes to our doors in time for the pre-exam cram session.

But this was before the drones.

16. Cinemark Invites Families of Aurora Shootings to Theater Reopening

Needs some renovation

2013 began with one of the year’s most unfortunately misguided corporate moves. The only appropriate response was “what were you thinking?”

We still don’t know the answer to that one.

15. What Are the World’s 10 Most Hated Brands? And Why?

“There is no good or evil. There is only power and those too weak to seek it”

Through an incredibly clueless combination of poor customer service, questionable ethics and a thorough misreading of their own shoppers’ desires, these brands found themselves at the very bottom of the public approval chart—right next to “congressmen” and “lobbyists”. Perhaps this ragtag group of losers should have a drink and commiserate. It’s not like they have anything better to do.

A note to Facebook: Sorry you didn’t win this year, but something tells us you’ll be near the top again in 2014!

14. Coca-Cola Says Social Media Buzz Does Not Boost Sales

Actually, the answer is “no!”

This year featured a lot of talk about measurement—how does a firm prove its value in dollars and cents?

Coke’s admission that social buzz doesn’t directly translate into sales shouldn’t have been a big surprise. It was more an official confirmation of a dirty digital secret: the relationship between awareness and brand loyalty is not a straight line. And lots of people prefer to drink water for some reason.

Can’t wait for the second half of the list? Neither can we.

Oh, also: Merry Christmas and a very belated Happy Hanukkah!

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.