The advertising industry keeps a steady pulse on what’s going on in the world, most notably evidenced by brands’ commercial content. 2020 certainly kept creatives on their toes, as we all searched for better ways to say, “these unprecedented times.” Let’s take a look back on the year 2020, as told by some of its most popular ads.
Dunkin’ – Dry Cleaner
We started out status quo, even optimistic. Dunkin’ tells the story of a man picking up his suit from the dry cleaner, only to realize it’s been shrunk. No worries here, he can take a “take a sip on the bright side” and just give it to his nephew (ironic take – we know now he probably wouldn’t have needed that suit this year anyway).
Jeep – Groundhog Day
We saw a solid offering from brands in the Super Bowl. Google had us crying with “Loretta,” and Hyundai had us rolling with “Smaht Pahk,” but the real winner in our opinion had to be Jeep with “Groundhog Day.”
DoorDash – Open For Delivery
Then March began, and COVID-19 hit hard. We started to see brands react to widespread shutdown orders. DoorDash launched their #OpenForDelivery campaign, collaborating with direct competitors like Grubhub and Uber Eats to support the restaurant industry while dining rooms were closed.
Apple – Working From Home
Working from home became the norm, and nonessential workers had to quickly adjust. Apple was somehow able to fit all of its products into a 7-minute longform that was both hilarious and extremely relatable.
Domino’s – Carside Delivery
Restaurant and retail business models adapted, with curbside pickup and increased safety precautions becoming crucial to keeping your customer base. We started seeing masks in ads, and different methods for contact-free pickup.
Beats – You Love Me
During the summer, we shifted the focus off of the pandemic. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor shed much-needed light on the continual oppression of the Black community. A powerfully defiant spot from Beats by Dre addresses the impactful contributions the community has made when the reality is they’re still having to fight for equality.
Citi – The List
Brands used their stage to address other important social issues too, like LGBTQ+ acceptance. Fair warning, the twist at the end of this Citi ad may require tissues.
JanSport – Lighten The Load
The unknown end date to quarantine and social distancing took a major toll on mental health. JanSport debuted its #LightenTheLoad campaign, inviting young people to share their stories using #ShareItChallenge in an effort to normalize the conversation and connect them with the right tools to fight through.
Oreo – The Fair
And then, on top of everything else, it was an election year. Some brands managed to still inspire hope and unity when the presidential race was causing things to be more divisive than ever, like this take from Oreo.
Coors – Change The Course
On a positive note, we saw brands continuing to partner with conservation efforts. In a marketplace full of seltzers (so many seltzers) Coors launched theirs with a mission to protect America’s rivers; For each 12-pack sold, they’ll help restore 500 gallons of river water in partnership with Change the Course.
TikTok – Good Vibes
Oh, and we can’t forget to mention the absolute cultural phenomenon that was/is TikTok. Is this an ad for TikTok, or is it really just an ad for Ocean Spray? Who really won here?
Match – Made In Hell
And finally, at the end of this year 2020, we’ve seen dating services cropping back up. Bumble makes a play on “anything can happen,” and Match showcases Satan finding the love of his life, 2020, set to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (sidenote – we were also triggered by the toilet paper scene).
So… here’s to hoping they break up in 2021. Alexa, play “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift.