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The Best Ads of 2020 as Selected by Voices Staff

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2020 has been an irregular year, to say the least. 

It’s been a year of enormous change. For many around the world, priorities shifted as everyone did their best to adapt to a sudden new normal. 

In the midst of all that upheaval, however, 2020 has also been a bit of a year stuck in limbo. Plans were cancelled, stay-at-home orders were mandated for various stretches of time, and occasionally it felt like all of our days were starting to blur together.

The best ads of 2020, then, were the ones that reflected the world we lived through in 2020.

Without the ability for video shoots to occur in person, and faced with an audience whose circumstances had turned on a dime, advertisers stepped up to the plate in 2020 to forge innovative, inspiring ways to respond to a new marketing climate brought on by the pandemic. 

Despite being physically distanced, advertisers and marketers were able to hone in on the feelings and experiences that we have all shared as we navigate this unforeseen year. The best ads of 2020, selected by the Voices staff, are a moving snapshot of the different ways that brands big and small thought up ways to bring uplifting ideas, a sense of humor, and resonant messaging to our screens this year. 

At times like these, sure, it can feel a little frivolous to rank the best ads. But powerful advertising is an important tool that small businesses have relied on more than ever to stay afloat during this tough period. Many brands have seized the opportunity to deliver heartwarming messages that show their audience that they care during this tough time. 

Without further ado, here are the best ads of 2020 as selected by the Voices staff:

Apple: Creativity Goes On

Selected by Michelle Melski, Communications Manager

“Apple’s ‘Creativity Goes On’ advertisement was released in April of this year, when things were changing throughout the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had more questions than answers and people were faced with a lockdown that didn’t seem to have an end. Apple compiled images and videos of people being creative and living their lives through the lockdown, cleverly including an independent cinema sign reading “We’ll Get Through This Together” at the beginning. They also sprinkled in celebrities throughout the ad to keep things interesting. It’s a heartwarming and effective take on what I’m sure we’ll look back on as a classic ‘COVID-19 messaging ad.’” 

Heineken: Ode to Close

Selected by Oliver Skinner, Content Marketing Specialist

“This 60-second spot opens with a handshake: a simple visual that, only a few months prior, wouldn’t have caused any eyelashes to bat.

But context is everything. In April of this year, when Heineken’s ‘Ode to Close’ was first released by creative agency Publicis Italy, the entirety of Italy was under strict quarantine orders. 

Set to voice over narration reciting an original poem, the ad is a montage of images that shows all the physical signs of affection and connection that we were forced to put on hold the moment we were thrust into lockdown. 

Particularly due to the voice over linking the images, Heineken’s ode to closeness really sneaks up on the viewer and transforms into something unexpectedly heartrending. It ends on an upbeat note, however, exhibiting a group of friends who can’t be in each other’s physical company continuing to socialize by getting together on a video call.” 

Domino’s Pizza: Contactless Delivery Business

Selected by Rebecca Lajoie-Dyck, Channel Specialist, SEO & CRO

“Contactless delivery became a hot topic very quickly and I love the approach that was taken here. The peak of excitement under lockdown was when my food deliveries came and it was just nice knowing I didn’t even need to see or be in contact with another human to get my food. This one definitely got me laughing.”

DEWALT: ToughSystem® 2.0 Storage

Selected by Sara Hunt, Strategic Account Manager

“DEWALT’s Tough System 2.0 Storage was built to handle long days and harsh conditions, so they needed a narrator whose voice over performance could firmly capture this. The finished product, read by voice actor Brandon Thornhill, was this crisp 60-second spot that motivates us to stand strong and stay durable even amidst the harshest of conditions. 

It may have been rough out there in 2020, but Black+Decker and DEWALT propelled its audience to cross even the most rugged of terrain.”

Netflix: Headspace Guide To Meditation Trailer

Selected by Oliver Skinner, Content Marketing Specialist

“‘When was the last time you did nothing?’

While 2020 has been a year marked by restrictions and the need to occupy ourselves without the pre-COVID pleasures of movie theaters, concerts, or going out with friends, the trailer for Netflix’s Headspace Guide to Meditation, a new series produced in partnership with the popular meditation app Headspace, is here to show you how actively turning your mind off for periods can be therapeutic. 

Employing a calming narration track performed by Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, this trailer introduces the forthcoming show that looks like it will be a slow and steady antithesis to the binge-ready likes of Schitt’s Creek or The Crown

The importance of devoting time to preserving and nurturing one’s mental health really cannot be overstated in a year like this, and meditation is an activity that anybody can try for themselves. The show promo even contains a brief snippet of a guided meditation, with Puddicombe highlighting the simple calm that comes with pausing to ‘take a moment before you do anything else, just to appreciate and enjoy that feeling of having stopped.’” 

Nike: You Can’t Stop Us

Selected by Michelle Melski, Communications Manager

“Nike uses voice over and a screen split in two to demonstrate how in both life and in sports, we’re stronger together. It’s a moving advertisement that is masterfully edited. I can only imagine how long it took to find footage that matched so seamlessly throughout the ad.

About halfway through the advertisement the message shifts from a simple, uplifting message about sports to a universal one about worldwide closures and obstacles that we collectively have to overcome. Even if you don’t play or watch sports, this ad will still pull on your heartstrings.”

Advertising Trends in 2020 and Beyond

Throughout 2020, we experienced a deluge of ads that responded directly to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also saw a spike in advertising that dealt with the other news stories that defined the year, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the American presidential election. 

Podcast advertising is blowing up, and so are interactive voice ads delivered via smart speakers. In the years to come, we believe that marketers can expect to see more unconventional methods of advertising—including brand soundscapes and sonic logos, as well as virtual reality ads and other interactive ways of reaching audiences— to rise to the fore. 

While the video spots featured in this article are all strong examples of brand marketing in 2020, there are also forms of advertising that are seamlessly integrated into video games, podcasts, and even flash briefings on home assistants. Who knows how the best ads of 2021 will be delivered to us? 

While you’re at it, take a trip into the past to check out our best ads of 2018 and our best ads of 2017

Are you already looking ahead to the new year and crafting your ad campaigns for 2021? Bring your 2021 advertising efforts to life by registering for Voices and getting access to our extensive roster of professional voice talent

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Comments

  • Esha Salvi
    February 7, 2021, 2:10 pm

    Yesss it’s great and exciting

    Reply