Having great ads is imperative to successful marketing, but breaking through the digital noise can be tough. With more people staying at home, companies have increased their digital ad spend by 2.3% in 2020. That means there’s even more competition in the digital ad space.
So, how does a company reach "best ad" status? There's no black and white rulebook when it comes to ad design, but it does have a lot to do with being creative and sticking the landing. You can have the prettiest looking ad in the world, but if the message doesn't come through, then it's bound to fall flat.
In 2020 we saw some of the best ads so far. From TV and print to the internet, there hasn’t been any shortage of exciting campaigns. In this post we cover the best advertising examples from 2020, breaking down what exactly made them such a big success.
In a campaign that seemed to (ahem, clearly did) take a swipe at McDonald’s, Burger King gets real. Burger King announced that they removed artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors from their whooper—which as a fast food restaurant, definitely sets them apart. It was brilliant and elicited emotions in both burger lovers and critics as well.
Using various photo and video formats, Burger King created an eye-catching campaign to promote its removal of artificial preservatives. However, where their regular ads would normally showcase a juicy, *fresh* burger, this campaign took the opposite approach. The ad highlighted mold growing on a Whopper as it sat out for over 34 days—obviously to highlight the lack of artificial preservatives.
This ad captured people’s attention and increased the discussion around Burger King as a whole. And with lockdown and more people staying at home, there wasn’t a better time to promote a healthier burger alternative.
This is a good advertising example because Burger King thought outside of the box and did something so out of the norm for the foodservice industry.
They took a risk, and it paid off.
According to Burger King CMO, the campaign completely hit its marketing objectives. “The idea was not to drive short-term sales, but future-proof the brand in preparation for changed consumer perceptions,” added the CMO.
TIP: Every ad campaign has a north star goal—and it's not always immediate sales. Make sure this goal is outlined before starting on any creative, as this will help to shape the direction of the ad design itself.
Facebook is one of the largest and most successful advertising platforms in existence. Though we often refer to it as a social network—because it is—it's also a place that many businesses head to when they want to increase their lead volume or build up brand awareness.
So, where does Facebook advertise about Facebook? On Facebook? Well, sometimes. But in 2020 they really took a chance and did something that was arguably very unexpected.
Facebook decided to drop a big one and advertise on one of the most viewed events of the year—the Super Bowl.
Promoting Facebook Groups, the Ready to Rock ad appeared during the fourth quarter. It featured celebrities such as movie star Sylvester Stallone, comedian Chris Rock and even highlighted rock-themed groups such as Rock Buggies, Moab Rock Climbers, and Table Rock Lake.
There's a reason why Facebook decided to advertise during the Super Bowl. Facebook has been seeing a decrease in US daily active users, and in order to keep making money from advertisers, they needed to bring more people back onto the platform.
When the entire US is a part of your target audience, the Super Bowl may just be the best place to reach them all at once.
Learn more about audience targeting and how to tailor your ad creative in our newest guide!
When you think about the businesses that have been negatively affected by COVID-19, you automatically think of restaurants and small businesses. However, despite an increase of online sales by 60%, IKEA announced that their retail sales were down 1.5 billion euros when compared to 2019.
That’s a lot of money.
Knowing how much revenue that IKEA would lose out from the lack of in-store visits 2020 offered them, they knew they had to ramp up their digital advertising efforts and push more people to their online stores.
What we love about this ad:
When we look back at 2020, a common experience that most people share is not only the endless Zoom calls at work, but the memorable video calls with loved ones as well. From the video call drinking parties with friends to the endless internet issues that come up, Heineken’s #Connections campaign brought their beverages to such a relatable experience.“We were inspired by real-life experiences that everyone can relate to. Whilst the new bar experience can be awkward and may take time getting used to for customers and bar staff, we wanted to celebrate their return and remind people that respecting the new rules is important. After all, there’s one thing better than the first night out, another night out.”"
What we love about this ad:
In the midst of the first wave, Uber partnered with design agency Wieden + Kennedy and launched its “Thank you for not riding” campaign. Unlike every other advertiser, their message wasn’t about buying their products or services, but rather to do the opposite by staying home.“Our message with this campaign is pretty simple: Stop moving. We felt it was particularly relevant for a company whose brand stands for movement to reinforce this important message. And we don’t think you can repeat it enough.”"
As part of their campaign, Uber also committed to offering 10 million free rides and food deliveries to healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need all around the world.
If this ad doesn’t make you cry, we don’t know what will.
What we love about this ad:
The person running the Coors Light social strategy is an absolute genius. Back in April, 2020, for a limited time, Coors Light promised a six-pack of beer to anyone who tweeted at them using the hashtag #CouldUseABeer.
As you can imagine, free things, plus bored and quarantined people, plus beer is a combination destined for virality.
Not only was this an incredible opportunity to get their products in peoples hands (and bellies), but it also produced so much valuable user generated content for Coors Light. This is clever ad copywriting at it's finest.
Take a look at some of the Tweets Coors Light got back with their hashtag:
One of the best advertising examples has to be Casper’s puzzle ads, which made their first appearance all over public transit vehicles in 2019. Since then, they’ve continued to launch more banner designs with new puzzles that keep riders going back to their website over and over again.“Our main goal with subway advertising has always been to create fun and intrigue around the brand. In many ways, it was our work in the subways that helped establish Casper’s lovable, relatable, and quirky personality from the outset. At a time when most subway advertising was very direct-response in nature, we saw an opportunity to be more playful and context-aware.”"
Here are some of the banner ads they launched:
What we love about this campaign:
Okay, and this last one is a bonus. It’s not actually from 2020 but we LOVE how they made a true multi-channel campaign that helped increase brand awareness in a quirky and clever way.
In 2017 MailChimp took its marketing campaign to a new level. They created nine unique mini campaigns that are each around a made up word/brand that sound like Mailchimp.
They also designed a search ad campaign so that whenever these phrases were typed into Google, people were redirected to MailChimp. These include:
Whichever you search, you will find yourself at MailChimp. MaleShrimp, JailBlimp, and KaleLimp are short films targeted to cinema enthusiasts.
WhaleSynth is a real musical instrument made entirely out of whale sounds. VeilHymn is a musical collaboration between Bryndon Cook and Devonte Hynes.
NailChamp gave nail art influencers a worldwide platform to contest. They also created beauty and hair trends, such as MaleCrimp and SnailPrimp.
Finally, they made FailChips, an actual food made from crushed up chips (AKA chips that failed... so clever).
The ads were so effective that big brands and publications picked them up. MailChimp used an indirect ad strategy to reach a broad audience, and their work paid off.
Among the first to jump in was Pitchfork, who featured VeilHymn on their front pages leading to over 2 million streams. And the ad designs were so impressive that they were featured by top companies such as The New Yorker and Paper Magazine.
In 2020, there was no shortage of great advertising. As we move further into 2021, there’s a lot marketers can learn from the examples we’ve shared here:
Don't be afraid to explore new platforms in 2021 as well. For example, we've heard great things about Pinterest as a marketing and sales platform. And, if you’d like an extra set of hands, you can always lean on Superside—we hire creative directors and talented designers from the world’s top agencies.
We sat down with Bill Macaitis, former Slack CMO, to chat about what it takes to success with ad design. Hear his tips and more in this Q&A style interview!