30+ creative ads of 2020: Part 1 of 3

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2020 has been a terrible year in many ways for us all. Amidst the chaos and turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the bad news all around, some ads managed to break through the clutter. As with all effective ads, they made us ‘feel’ something – brought a smile on our faces, got us all teared up or simply made us feel good. Here is a compilation of compelling creative ads of 2020 (in no particular order) from my weekly archives:

Direct Line: we’re on it

The brief: convey that Direct Line, an insurance brand in the UK, offers fast service. Thanks to benefit laddering, the proposition is presented in a creative manner as ‘faster to the rescue than super heroes’.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi. See more from the campaign here.

The top notch production values, the self-deprecating humour and little touches like the audio cassette and the reaction from the taxi driver make the ad entertaining while driving home the point.

Burger King: Stay Home of the Whopper

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and extended lockdown periods saw several brands put out communication campaigns anchored on the topic. Among the various options available (not communicating at all being one of them) urging consumers to stay home and equating it with some element of the brand was the most common. As I said in an earlier post:

The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen many brands release tactical ads or initiate some action in the context of the event. McDonald’s separated the brand’s Golden Arches in Brazil to drive home the point about social distancing. They were slammed on social media as it was seen as a superficial gimmick.


Burger King kept that messaging fun and light hearted while promoting the use of the app. Puns such as ‘couch potatriot’ brought a smile.

Agency: FCB. This was part of a collection of ads from April 2020.

Nike: don’t do it

‘Just do it’ must rank among the top all time great tag-lines. Nike has consistently invested behind that property and crafted many famous, inspiring campaigns around that idea. ‘If you have a body, you are an athlete’ is a succinct, yet deep summation of the brand philosophy. The brand has ventured into taking a stand on political issues to receive both accolades and flak. In a seeming reversal of that rallying cry of ‘Just Do It’ the brand urged consumers to not ignore the societal problems in America. The campaign evoked a positive reaction even from its competitor.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

WhatsApp: rays of sunshine

Visuals of empty streets and montage of people participating in video calls were among the commonly depicted scenarios in ads related to COVID-19. In that context, a sweet film about the role of WhatsApp in the life of someone who is seemingly in quarantine was clutter breaking.

Agency: Almap BBDO

EPOS: Bad Audio is Bad Business

B2B advertising is meant to be boring. But as with every convention, it is meant to be broken. EPOS is a brand which delivers high-end audio solutions for enterprises. While that may sound boring, this ad made it so interesting thanks to a wonderful premise: “we are set on a mission to eliminate the most expensive word in business today. That word is “What?”. Loved the script and the execution.

Agency: & Co./NOA København K, Denmark. This was part of a compilation from May 2020.

Mint Mobile: New ManageMint

Ryan Reynolds is not just a popular actor but a marketing genius. That’s the conclusion one would come to looking at the body of work on the brands he and his agency Maximum Effort have been associated with: Aviation Gin, Mint Mobile, R.M.Williams and Each of these brands have had sharply focused messaging told in entertaining manner. Moreover, the visibility for such communication is guaranteed thanks to Ryan promoting such on social media. This particular ad for Mint Mobile (a brand he owns) is hilarious as Ryan shares his screen and takes us through slides to convey the product features of the brand. Don’t miss the elements on this desktop screen: file named ‘companies to buy’ and a folder titled ‘Books to say I’ve read’.

Mucinex: super heroes and ‘back to normal’

A brand for cold & flu relief, Mucinex, created two campaigns this year. One portrayed those who stay at home as super-heroes and the other urging people to follow safety protocols such as wearing a mask. Both the campaigns had illustrations by Noma Bar an Israel-born graphic designer, illustrator and artist.

See rest of the ads here.

The second campaign was anchored on our urge to get back to normal but reminding us that the onus is on us for that to happen. The clever visual juxtaposition of a face mask to an element in holidaying was very clever.

See the rest of the ads here.

SET India: family

The lockdown forced many industries to innovate. Entertainment channel, SET India commissioned a film featuring many famous stars but shot entirely indoor. It drove home the point that one can get work done while following protocols and safety measures of staying indoors.

Director: Prasoon Pandey

Hun Wines: launch campaign

As I said in my post from May: Who launches an outdoor campaign for a brand when most people are indoors thanks to the lockdown? In what must have been a planned product launch, derailed perhaps by the COVID-19 outbreak, the marketing team turned a problem into an opportunity. The self-deprecating humour and pointing out to outdoor ads which nobody can see brought attention to the campaign in the online world.

Rest of the ads are here.

BBC One: Dracula

In an age of convergence and prevalence of technology in almost every aspect of advertising, here is an old-fashioned billboard which relied on a simple idea and the medium’s own characteristics to stand out. To promote the TV series Dracula, stakes were placed on the billboard in such a manner that when lit at night, the shadow resembles the character.

BBC One Dracula

Agency: BBC Creative

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in. Parts 2 and 3 of this series will be up soon.

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