From robotic ‘Trick or Treat’ doors to Groundhog Day remakes, 2020 was big year for video marketing as brands accelerated their move online. Advertisers tackled the Covid crisis with stories of unity, courage and reassurance. To round off the year, our team has assembled 20 standout video ads from around the world for your viewing pleasure…
How do you create a new sports commercial when there’s no new footage to show? Nike’s first post-Covid ad welcomed back the NBA season with some astonishingly edited archived clips, that perfectly synced up athletes via split screen. Called “You Can’t Stop Us,” the film launched during basketball’s long-anticipated return from its halt to the season back in March. The ad, created by agency Wieden + Kennedy, mixed 4,000 pieces of historical archive footage from 24 sports into a 90-second tribute to the ways athletes bounce back. Working with Pulse Films director Oscar Hudson, Joint editors Peter Wiedensmith and Jessica Baclesse, and the visual effects team at A52, the team researched 4,000 sports action sequences and chose 72 of them to combine into 36 split-screen moments, where the action on both sides appears to meld into one. Narrated by soccer star Megan Rapinoe, the spot blends 36 pairs of athletes into one another, emphasising “commonalities shared by athletes around the world.”
Burger King took the bold step of showing its signature burger decaying in a time-lapse video to showcase its removal of artificial preservatives. The fast-food chain said that it’s showing mould “can be a beautiful thing” to highlight removing artificial preservatives from the Whopper in most European countries and in select US markets. Set to the sound of Dinah Washington’s song What Difference A Day Makes, it uses a time-lapse showing it rotting over 34 days. In a tweet, Burger King said: “The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly.” The Whopper is topped with onions, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and pickles, all of which will contain no artificial preservatives. The adverts received a mixed response in the marketing world and on social media. Some were put off by the image, other people were impressed.
Three’s biggest ever ad campaign aimed to be the antidote to winter blues and bleak forecasts with an optimistic glimpse into Britain’s 5G-powered future, complete with holographic Lewis Capaldi and VR space battles.The mobile network operator’s previous campaign “Phones are good” journeyed through the past, while the new ad looks at a near future when 5G has changed British life for the better. The ad seeks to cement the brand as one that celebrates “Britishness” and offers a fun antidote to the misery seemingly permeating the nation. ‘UK, U OK Hun?’ was the brainchild of chief marketing officer Shadi Halliwell, the ex-Harvey Nichols marketing boss who – along with ad agency Wieden + Kennedy – wants to make the Three brand “less about utility and more about lifestyle”.
With some help from the Jeep Gladiator pickup, Bill Murray reprised his roll in classic timeloop film Groundhog Day. A couple of the film’s original characters also make a surprise reprisal, too. Clocking in at just about a minute, the ad shows Murray wake up at 6 a.m. to the tune of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and then head off into the snowy day, before he rips off in the rugged vehicle – with the famed groundhog.
Budweiser reworked a classic commercial spot from 21 years ago, using digital technology to bring the ‘Whassup’ ad into the age of the quarantine, along with a new series of ads featuring current stars. The new version of the 1999 ad features footage from the original spot (apart from one scene shot on the street) with new lines making reference to being in quarantine. The original Whassup? ad was based on a short film by Charles Stone III, who also directed the ad, and was hugely successful internationally. The new version of the ad ends with a hashtag #TogetherAtADistance and the endline ‘Buds support buds. Check on yours.’ The new version has been created by Budweiser UK. It was made in response to YouGov information that one in five Brits are living alone during lockdown and the authentic friendships that lie at the heart of the ad make it the perfect vehicle for prompting people to keep in touch.
At the height of lockdown, Procter & Gamble teamed up with social media influencer Charli D’Amelio to promote a different kind of dance challenge: the “distance dance.” The challenge, starting out on social media platform Tik Tok, encouraged people to share their dances from home. Dancing became a go-to strategy for people and organisations to advocate for safety and prevention measures amid the ongoing public health crisis. D’Amelio is currently Tik Tok’s most followed creator in the world, and by participating in the #distancedance challenge, D’Amelio’s followers generated sponsored donations to Feeding America and Matthew 25: Ministries.
@charlidamelioStay home & do the #distancedance. Tag me & the hashtag in your video. P&G will donate to Feeding America & Matthew 25 for first 3M videos #PGPartner♬ Big Up’s (feat. Yung Nnelg) – Jordyn, Nic Da Kid
Amazon’s UK Christmas advert tackled the Covid crisis with an uplifting tale of a young determined dancer. The ad follows the story of a young dancer whose dreams of taking a lead role are jeopardised due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Titled The Show Must Go On, the heartwarming two-minute advert sees the ballerina prepare for the role of a lifetime, with a heartwarming twist.
Google took a simple idea and turned it into something heartbreaking. A POV shot of an elderely man searching “How to not forget,” an elderly man issues a number of commands to his Google assistant. He asks the device to show him photos of his late wife Loretta, and to remember details like “she loved going to Alaska” and “she always snorted when she laughed.” Google’s chief marketing officer wrote that the commercial was inspired by a true story, and voiced by a Google employee’s 85-year-old grandfather. At the end, the device scrolls a list of details the man has asked it to remember, such as “Loretta’s favorite flowers were tulips,” and “Loretta always said, don’t miss me too much,” interspersed with old photos and videos of Loretta’s life. It ends with the man saying, “Remember, I’m the luckiest man in the world,” and no, those tears weren’t from the onions you were chopping for your halftime guacamole. Sure, there were a few people who couldn’t help but make jokes about how Google sold the late Loretta’s personal data to advertisers. But for many, the commercial reminded them of their parents’ and grandparents’ love stories, and the toll that Alzheimer’s and dementia take.
LEGO bucked the trend this year by focusing on comedy and chaos over sentimentality. The ad ‘and I think to myself’ was a rewriting of Louis Armstrong’s classic ‘What a Wonderful World’ as ‘That’s a Pretty Cool World’ and was an epic, colourful ride that offered escapism and hope in a turbulent year.
In a cute marketing stunt for a socially-distanced year, confectionary brand Reese’s built a robotic door that moves around neighborhoods and dispenses king-size candy contact-free on Halloween. The Reese’s door is powered by three motors and directed via remote control from up to 5,000 feet away. It also gives off smoke and has flashing lights to grab attention, plus a Bluetooth-enabled speaker that plays music activates once ‘trick or treat’ is said.
Duolingo teamed up with gaming company Rovio to put its language teaching owl into Angry Birds. Under the deal, Red from Angry Birds 2 appeared alongside Duo – the passive aggressive owl that reminds you to take your lessons and congratulates you when you learn – in Duolingo’s app of the year winning iOS and Android apps while Duo will appear as a new spell in Angry Birds 2.
The collaboration was available globally and lasted for a month. To highlight the crossover Duolingo launched this video that sees Duo and Red wreak havoc and smash up a NYC bar when one of the patrons neglects to complete his Duolingo lesson.
Coca Cola launched its first major ad post lockdown with a manifesto poem written by George “The Poet” Mpang. The new campaign, which launched on 1 August, encourages people to be ‘open, like never before’ in a world forever changed by the global pandemic. The ‘Open Like Never Before’ is targeted at the EMEA market, and the beverage giant searches for purpose amid the pandemic with a poetic bent. Starring spoken word artist ‘George The Poet’, it takes us on a light ride on paying attention to the things that matter and how they can define and make us better going forward. Coca-Cola suspended marketing activity for a few months, redirected resources towards supporting its bottling and retail partners, and donated $100m to relief efforts. Much of the new campaign will focus on supporting local hotels, cafes and restaurants — individual outlets will be able to customise the ads to use for their own social media — but there will also be an OOH presence, including big sites like Piccadilly Circus.
Fruit chew brand MAOAM launched an online hub encouraging parents to embrace mischievous play at home with their kids, setting mischief missions instigated by MAOAM’s mascot Max, and tested out by children’s TV presenters Dick and Dom. Parents were spending more time at home, working, home-schooling or trying to think of creative ways to keep the kids active. Haribo sister brand MAOAM offered parents tips and tricks on how to have more light-hearted fun with the kids.
Dove’s heartfelt campaign “Courage is Beautiful”, was a strong example of how a brand could respond to coronavirus in a relevant way, without appearing tacky. Created by Ogilvy, Canada as a tribute to healthcare workers in North America, the ads show workers as they sport marks on their skin from PPE equipment, alongside the tagline “courage is beautiful”. All photos feature real doctors and nurses, who were approached by Ogilvy via Instagram.
From inappropriate parent texts to devices that listen to your conversations, how do you solve the world’s most annoying problems? The Snickers social media campaign seemed to suggest digging a big hole, which culminated in this epic Super Bowl ad. The chocolate brand released its new Super Bowl LIV ad, including a special long-form version on the brand’s YouTube page. In the iconic brand’s signature humour, the ad declares “the world is out-of-sorts” and presents an absurdly satisfying solution to fix it. As a crowd gathers in song to watch, a giant Snickers is “fed” to the Earth in a grand attempt to fix the world. The spot ends with some evidence that Snickers’ plan just may be working. “This new ad marks the latest evolution of our award-winning ‘You’re Not You’ campaign,” said Josh Olken, brand director, Snickers. “Since the first Super Bowl spot 10 years ago, we’ve shown the power of Snickers to satisfy when you’re out of sorts. Our attempt to ‘fix the world’ is a new angle, and our biggest yet: When the world itself is out of sorts, maybe it just needs a Snickers.”
With the ongoing health and economic crisis, this year we will be celebrating Christmas in a very different way. In the commercial, the grandad is somewhat taken aback by his gift of a new smartphone and wonders what he’s going to do with this gift that he doesn’t even know how to use. Until his granddaughter sends him a picture of herself with a unicorn filter. From that point, we will follow him on an extraordinary mission: alone in his workshop, he will saw, paint, sew, cut and shape to create something truly amazing.
Agency adam&eveDDB, the team behind the John Lewis Christmas ad, created this sweet little tale for Mars’ Temptations cat treats this Halloween. In the middle of an ambitious multi-media/social effort is ‘Scaredy Cat,’ billed as the world’s first horror movie for cats (who clearly don’t like vegetables.) Production by BlinkInk, animation by Zombie Studio. Involving 100 people people toiling away for 14 weeks to create, among other things, a miniature set with 400 handcrafted props. Plus the Waltham Petcare Science Institute – no less – to create sound frequencies to capture cats’ attention, so they watch it too. Better be good then. Temptations is also launching a Creepy Catnip flavour, as you do. There are also some striking movie-style posters.
This ad from Waze keeps the viewer engaged throughout with a charming tragi-comic story. Story telling, while making perfectly clear what your product is, and including laughs is no small feat. We are taken into the world of a failed inflatable tube man, and his journey to obscurity. By the end you are gripped by his story and championing him along. What makes this ad great is there is no need for a snappy tagline or hard sell at the end.
Over the past decade the retailer’s festive ad has become a big annual TV and social media moment that kicks off the UK Christmas shopping season. The two minute advert features different forms of moving art – from animation and claymation to CGI and cinematography. The Give A Little Love ad, which is a joint effort with Watirose, was inspired by random acts of kindness during lockdown after the pandemic first hit in March. The retail group said it had deliberately commissioned eight animation artists as a way to provide work for the struggling creative community, which has been crippled by coronavirus restrictions.
For a second time this year, Budweiser managed not only to bring it back into the limelight, but add a whole new spin on it. Using modern smart appliances and devices to talk to each other in the same way as the original ad did is a stroke of genius. Pretty much everyone has at least one smart device at home these days, so everybody is able to relate. Even down to the last few seconds with one of the devices almost getting caught, this ad keeps it going the whole way through. A great revival of a classic ad.
This heartwarming ad showcases frontline healthcare workers, and highlights how many volunteers and donations started with a Google search. A simple ad, but also one of the most powerful in a year like no other.