December 16, 2020
There is no “new” way to say this, so we’re just going to say it: this year was a doozy. So much darkness, uncertainty and unrest overshadowed this year that it can be challenging to think of anything good that came from 2020. And worse, the memories of life before lockdown feel like another lifetime. This year has felt like three years in one, but has flown by all the same.
Throughout history, marketers have found ways to shed light on even the darkest times and this year is a perfect example of that. When the world shut down, we relied on artists to bring us comfort, peace and motivation to keep going. 2020 has reaffirmed that marketing is truly an art form.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a year many of us would rather forget as we relive some of the moments that kept us sane, thanks to our peers in marketing.
Hyundai: “Smaht Pahk”
Originally debuting during the 2020 Super Bowl, this Hyundai Sonata ad was easily one of the funniest and most memorable commercials to air that day. Complete with Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch and more, this star-studded ad now fills us with the warm nostalgia of the “before times.”
Burger King: The Moldy Whopper
I know you’re probably thinking to yourself, “There’s no way this happened this year,” but let me tell you: yes. Yes it did. This polarizing campaign had everyone buzzing back in mid-February and is permanently burned into the minds of many. The public is still undecided on how effective this ad was, but one things for sure: it was memorable!
Corporate Twitter accounts never fail to impress their audience with their humor and creativity. About a week after lockdown, Bay Area-based food delivery service, DoorDash, started a Twitter thread of restaurants giving each other shoutouts about where delivery was available to order from…even if it wasn’t on DoorDash itself. For instance, Buffalo Wild Wings replied, “Yep! We are & we know @JimmyJohns is #OpenForDelivery too. Get a cookie with your order, you deserve it…” Businesses big and small were hit hard this year, and this selfless act of companies helping each other out shows how important leaning on each other for support was this year.
Oreo: The Global Oreo Vault
Bringing home AdWeek’s Readers’ Choice for the best ad this year, Oreo’s “Global Vault” campaign took viewers through doomsday prep “documentary” that felt a little too real this year. Except for one thing: instead of a deadly virus, it was an asteroid threatening human kind….and, more importantly, the survival of Oreos. A travesty. Now we can rest assured that if the world really does end, Oreos will indeed outlive us.
With all the craziness that came with working from home this year, there were several experiences that seemed to be almost universal. Between awkward video calls, children screaming in the background (my dog is barking at me for attention as I write this), younger adults moving back with their parents and less tech-savvy employees struggling to figure out what to do, WFH came with an endless list of pros and cons. Apple took all of these mixed feelings and created a fantastic 7-minute ad campaign that seamlessly weaved in the comedic, inspiring and frustrating aspects of WFH with the ways Apple products would help you get your work done. Genius.
Ocean Spray: Dreams
Once upon a time, TikTok was an underrated app, presumed to be the “wannabe” second coming of Vine and doomed to the confines of preteens’ cellphones. Then quarantine hit. From record deals to viral dances, this app has been the catalyst for people of all ages to get their start, even securing a spot on CMO Council’s Top Brands Seeing an Upturn During the Downturn. “@420doggface208” is a prime example of the inexplicable power of Tiktok. With nearly 12 million likes, a 43-year-old song topping charts again and a sponsorship from Ocean Spray, this simple video of a man’s “morning vibe” on a skateboard listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams was one of the most powerful marketing moments of 2020, if completely accidentally.
Amazon: The Show Must Go On
This powerful tear-jerker ad perfectly captures the emotions of lockdown life. Not only does Amazon convey the complexity of this time without a single spoken word, but they also demonstrate how passion and love always prevail, despite any roadblocks in the way. A big theme for 2020 has been the importance of community and family, which shows up in a unique way in this ad…a subtle reminder of what really matters when the world comes to a halt.
Quarantine has inspired creativity in so many unexpected ways this year. For many, with isolation comes inspiration, and the emotional, hilarious, and unique ads that created this year speak to the unforseen impact of what these unprecedented times mean to us as humans. Regardless of your feelings on quarantine, one thing is for sure: no one will ever forget the year 2020.
Kate serves as Senior Marketing Coordinator at the CMO Council where she drives the social media engagement strategy, content, and creative development for their Expert Views section and weekly newsletter, Required Reading. Kate also serves as Editor of Marketing Magnified and is the main point of contact for “Get to Know a CMO” interviews. Kate holds a bachelors degree in Communication Studies and Foreign Affairs from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and currently resides in the Bay Area with her rescue dog, Archie. When she’s not writing for CMOC, you can find her chipping away at her endless stack of novels on her bookshelf or writing her own.
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