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The Year in Review: 2020 | Top 5 Most Creative Ad Campaigns

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Over the last few months, the world has transformed in ways that many never thought possible. Some upheavals, like nationwide lockdowns, travel bans and social distancing measures, are only short-term. Others will likely continue far into the future.  

The changes that are here to stay are a matter of speculation at this stage. But it’s possible to get a sense of what’s waiting over the horizon from an unlikely source: advertisements.  

Big enterprises are among the most powerful drivers of transformation, with significant sway over consumer habits and perceptions. What’s more, they are adept at pinpointing emerging trends and riding the waves of a shifting marketplace. Advertisements often reflect what is happening in broader society, and surreptitiously predict what’s to come.  

In this post, we’re going to look at five of the most creative ad campaigns of 2020, a year that will undoubtedly go down as one of the most important in history.  

1. Facebook: Ready to Rock? (Super Bowl Ad) 

Facebook’s first Super Bowl commercial is one of the most talked-about ads of 2020. Facebook used its sixty-second slot, which likely cost over ten million dollars, to promote its Groups feature. The clip features Sylvester Stallone and Chris Rock bouncing around to “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister.  

The ad draws attention to the diversity of Facebook users and the many-themed groups, spanning craft cocktails to “experimental rocketry”, to which they belong. The ad itself is part of a broader Facebook campaign encouraging people to connect in groups to explore their interests, and has been supplemented with an array of marketing activities, including high-profile digital ads on well-known sites.  

2. Burger King: The Moldy Whopper 

Over the last few years, the fast-food industry has been forced to adapt to shifting customer preferences. A growing number of people are opting for healthier alternatives, and there is much greater concern about the use of artificial preservatives and “non-natural” ingredients.  

Burger King took a counterintuitive approach to advertise its dropping of all artificial preservatives from some of its products. Rather than state this point directly, it leveraged both print and digital media to showcase how much mould grew on a Whopper over thirty-four days. 

Burger King’s approach wasn’t just a way of catching peoples’ attention, though it certainly achieved that. It was also a mischievous swipe at McDonald’s, which had recently been part of a news story about a hamburger that hadn’t shown any signs of decay despite being twenty years old. 

3. Greggs: Vegan Steak Bake 

Greggs, a British bakery chain well-known for its range of pastry products, launched its vegan sausage roll in 2019. The product quickly became a hit. High sales were driven by wide coverage in the media and a well-orchestrated online campaign.  

Hoping to repeat the success of its first vegan product, Gregg’s launched a no-meat steak “bake” (or pastry) in 2020. The company used a range of innovative tactics in the run-up to the full rollout, including teaser videos on social media, in-store countdown timers and a one-off launch event at a flagship store in Newcastle. There was a lot of mystery around the campaign, which stoked further interest.  

Greggs also interacted directly with journalists by sending them vegan steak bakes in a special box, leading to significant free publicity in the media.  

4. Volkswagen: The Last Mile 

Part of the beauty of The Last Mile campaign, which signifies Volkswagen’s full commitment to manufacturing electric cars, is its simplicity and evocation of feelings of nostalgia. It weaves a simple narrative of a man who travels through life – learning to drive, partying, getting married, having a baby and eventually growing old – with his trusty Volkswagen Beetle as a continuous presence.  

The iconic Beetle, which most people will recognize and has now been discontinued by Volkswagen, is used as the focal point of the main video ad to emphasize the move to a genuinely new era of car production. There are also cultural references to Kevin Bacon, who drove the car in Footloose, and Andy Warhol, who made a painting of it. References to past ad campaigns were also included.  

5.Amazon: The Show Must Go On 

“Flagship” Christmas commercials tend to be released in early to mid-November. And many big companies pour significant resources into their main festive ad, working on the basis that it will likely receive large amounts of publicity and shape consumer perceptions during the busiest and most profitable time of the year.  

Amazon has already received praise from several media outlets for its story-driven and emotionally evocative Christmas ad, which deals with many of the feelings that people are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It tells the story of a young ballerina who is selected to be the lead in her academy’s winter show, only for it to be scuppered by government restrictions. 

While the ad is only one part of Amazon’s broader Christmas campaign, it is an excellent example of marketing that is captivating, positive and highly relevant.  

Immerse Yourself in the Art of Advertising at EU Business School 

Are you intrigued by the idea of a career in advertising? Perhaps as part of the marketing department of a well-known company or at the head of your own startup? If the answer is yes, then EU Business School can provide you with all the training, knowledge, and industry experience you need to thrive in your chosen field.  

We offer several dedicated courses, including Bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Public Relations and Digital Business, Design, and Innovation, Master’s programs in Marketing and Digital Business, and a range of popular MBAs (Master of Business Administration). As a student at EU Business School, you’ll also study in one of Europe’s most exciting business hubs. We have campuses in Barcelona, Geneva, Montreux and Munich, as well as online.  

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