The 5 best ads of 2021 (and the absolute worst)

Effectively, right here we’re at the finish of the 12 months. Meaning it’s time for an additional Best Of listing, wrapping up 12 months of promoting and advertising into a handy guide a rough little bundle. Now, once we say “ads,” we’re not simply speaking about commercials. In actual fact, only one of our high 5 may even be categorized as such, reflecting simply how creatively far model work has superior in an effort to sustain with our media consumption, tradition, and fixation. Clearly, there have been many greater than 5 wonderful ads this 12 months, however these have been the handful that grabbed our consideration in enjoyable and sudden methods—together with the one advert we actually may have executed with out actually want we may simply unsee.

Heinz: “Draw Ketchup”

Shut your eyes and film this: ketchup. What do you see? Is it a Heinz bottle or emblem? That was the premise of one of the most earnestly enjoyable model initiatives of the 12 months, the “Draw Ketchup” marketing campaign for Heinz by company Rethink Canada. The model requested individuals to do exactly that—Draw ketchup—and it seems, a complete lot of individuals scribbled up some severe model consciousness.


Wendy’s: “Tremendous Wendy’s World”

Again in 2019, Wendy’s dropped its namesake character into Fortnite to destroy all the freezers in a particular “Meals Battle” version of Epic’s hit Battle Royale sport. Over the previous 12 months, the model took issues up a couple of notches to redefine what it means to play along with your meals—and set a brand new normal for the way manufacturers get entangled in gaming.

“Tremendous Wendy’s World” was a marketing campaign that labored over the course of the 12 months to infiltrate a range of standard video video games and stream all of it on the model’s Twitch channel. Wendy was in Minecraft smashing ice blocks. In Animal Crossing, she offered freezers to the lowest bidders. She was in Road Fighter, Tremendous Mario Maker 2, and Tremendous Smash Brothers. Total, players spent greater than 9.8 million minutes exploring the Wendy’s video-game universe. Wendy’s grew to become the first verified restaurant on Twitch and ranked in the high 1% of all streamers on the platform.

Kiyan Prince Basis: “Lengthy Reside The Prince”

Kiyan Prince was arguably the brightest younger soccer prospect in England earlier than he was stabbed to dying 15 years in the past. The Kiyan Prince Basis (KPF) is a nonprofit that’s been campaigning in opposition to knife crime and for higher help techniques to forestall it.

The basis partnered with EA Sports activities to make “Lengthy Reside the Prince,” which introduced Kiyan again to life inside EA Sports activities’ FIFA 21 online game, permitting gamers to pick out Prince for his or her groups or play him as a member of his childhood membership, Queens Park Rangers. Gamers may additionally entry contact data for the basis and be taught extra about its providers from inside the sport. The marketing campaign acquired worldwide media consideration, elevating important consciousness for a company preventing to verify what occurred to Kiyan doesn’t occur to extra children.

Jif Peanut Butter: “#JifRapChallenge”

The model discovered a option to drop into the cultural discourse by getting Ludacris to replace his rapping type and sound extra mumble fashionable with the assist of . . . a spoonful of peanut butter. Ludacris then issued the #JifRapChallenge on TikTok, giving customers an opportunity to rhyme with Luda himself in a TikTok duet. TikTokers created their very own problem movies, which collected greater than 7 billion views.

Go to Iceland: “Icelandverse”

Again in October, when Fb rebranded itself as Meta, half of that announcement was an extended, infomercial-like fever dream peek inside the thoughts of Mark Zuckerberg. Inside per week, as the information cycle was nonetheless spinning round the implications round Meta, Go to Iceland dropped one of the funniest, timeliest spoofs of the 12 months. This was a pitch-perfect spot, set in a superbly pure atmosphere, that illustrated the energy of maintaining with tradition, however in a means that isn’t tremendous bizarre or borderline creepy.


Which brings us to our decide for the worst advert of 2021. . . .

Fb: “Introducing Meta”

Again to Meta: The Fb founder and CEO introduced a six-minute walk-through of why the firm was rebranding itself and its general agenda. The new identify? Meta. The new agenda? The metaverse. The vibe? An episode of Black Mirror crossed with a seemingly never-ending Magic Bullet infomercial.

The presentation was awkward sufficient, however maybe most confounding was why the firm “agreed” to have Zuckerberg–arguably its most controversial determine–be its new mascot. As VCU Brandcenter government director Vann Graves instructed me at the time, “You’re altering the identify, not the notion, if he’s nonetheless at the head of it.”

And—shock, shock—model belief in the firm truly fell after the identify change. In keeping with the Harris Model Platform, as Fb introduced its rebrand to Meta, its reliable rating dipped to six.2%. Can’t think about the video had something to do with that.