The 2020s were significant years in world history. From a global pandemic to new world leaders and the war in Ukraine, the 2020s have impacted people in many unexpected ways.
Advertisers have created some remarkable and groundbreaking TV commercials in the 2020s (and we’re only over two years into the decade!).
In this article
- What Defined the 2020s?
- COVID-19 Pandemic
- Political and Social Unrest
- Russia-Ukraine War
- What Was the President and What Was the Political Climate?
- How Was the Economy and How Did This Affect Brand Advertisers?
- How Much Time Did People Spend Watching TV in the 2020s?
- The Pandemic Ad – What Is It?
- Who Were the Top TV Advertisers of TV Commercials in the 2020s?
- What Commercials Were Popular in the 2020s?
- Best Commercial of the 2020s and Why
- Final Thoughts
Let’s consider what makes the time unique and discuss the impact the years have had on TV commercials in the 2020s.
What Defined the 2020s?
Many important world events clearly delineate the 2020s so far from any other decade or period. The 2020s would change the world significantly, and there would be no going back to the time before these pivotal years.
Perhaps the most significant event of the 2020s was the onset and spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Discovered in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, COVID-19 would come to infect millions worldwide throughout the 2020s.
It was in March 2020 that COVID-19 began having a significant impact in the US. One minute, we were all out enjoying time in close proximity to our friends and family members, and the next, we were wearing masks, social distancing, and sanitizing every surface in sight.
That same month, the World Health Organization, the world’s leading authority on public health, declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. This declaration would have a major effect on how everyone understood and approached the virus, from world leaders to your average joe.
Political and Social Unrest
Besides the pandemic, anti-racist protests erupting in response to the killing of George Floyd also came to characterize the 2020s. Thousands of activists took to the streets to call for an end to racism and police brutality.
Another significant event to define the 2020s was protestors overtaking the US capital on January 6th, 2021. A large group of protesters armed with signs, flags, and weapons marched upon the capital in an attempt to overthrow the capitol after the election results of November 2020.
Many Americans watched these events with shock and fear, uncertain of the causes or ultimate impacts of such a protest. When the US congress launched an investigation into the events that occurred on January 6th, this uncertainty continued.
Perhaps the final most significant event to define the 2020s was the war in Ukraine. In February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech detailing his many grievances with the neighboring country.
Days following the speech, Putin launched an attack on Ukraine that the international community quickly condemned. While the relatively small country of Ukraine has put up quite a fight against the superpower that is Russia, the war rages on, and no one knows what the outcome will be.
What Was the President and What Was the Political Climate?
Elected in 2016, Donald Trump was US President at the start of the 2020s. Later that year, former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden would defeat Trump in an election that had Americans on the edges of their seats.
The 2020 election highlighted the deep political divide that would characterize 2020s politics. In the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, the US political climate was one of intense disunion and heated rhetoric between right and left.
Political division would carry well into the 2020s, as the debate between the two sides continues with no seeming resolution.
How Was the Economy and How Did This Affect Brand Advertisers?
The economy of the 2020s has been one of significant flux due largely to the uncertainty of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Entering the decade with low GDP and high jobless numbers, 2020 saw a 3.5% shrink in the global economy.
In that year alone, employers cut more than 22 million jobs in response to the economic impact of the global pandemic. The US Congress issued stimulus payments to Americans to keep the economy robust through the pandemic, contributing in part to an approximate 5.7% growth in the economy in 2021.
By 2022, the economic future of the US and the world has become uncertain. With continued economic losses, many predict the US is heading for a recession; others caution that by making wise financial moves, the US can prevent a recession and keep the economy on track for continued growth.
These economic fluxes significantly impacted brand advertisers and approaches to the 2020s TV commercials. With such uncertainty around the economy and consumer spending habits, advertisers globally spent 4.2% less in 2020 than in 2019.
Indeed, in times of economic stress or uncertainty, businesses tend to cut discretionary spending, and for most, advertising is seen as discretionary. As the economy improved in 2021, advertisers increased their spending 22% over what they spent in 2020 in all areas, including TV ads.
With an uncertain economic future in 2022, advertisers are being cautious. Leading advertising researcher Magna predicts that in 2022, ad sales will mostly decrease, but will increase in three significant areas:
- Advertising-based video on demand
- Over-the-top and connected TV
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How Much Time Did People Spend Watching TV in the 2020s?
With more people stuck at home during the global pandemic, it is no surprise that viewing time among those who watch TV rose significantly during the 2020s. This fact was true across all TV mechanisms, including network TV, cable TV, and streaming.
TV viewing rose so much that binge-watching show after show became a joke across internet memes and tweets in the 2020s. In 2020 alone, among adults in the US who watch TV, viewing time increased by 9.2% to approximately 4.5 hours daily. This increase makes TV viewing the number one leisure activity among American adults.
With Americans glued to their TVs watching pandemic and election coverage, 2020 was a banner year for TV viewing. While many predicted a decline in TV viewing in 2021, research leader Nielsen found that TV viewing increased by 18% that year, with Americans spending almost five hours per day watching TV.
For 2022, advertising researchers predict that both the number of viewers and the number of hours each day they spend watching TV will increase. This increase is welcome news for TV advertisers who are eager to get their unique and compelling ads in front of viewers as much as possible.
The Pandemic Ad – What Is It?
Perhaps no ad trend marks the 2020s more than the pandemic ad. The advent of the pandemic ad resulted from the global spread of COVID-19 and advertisers’ accompanying desire to continue selling products during this devastating event.
The pandemic ad was characterized by a sense of helping, uncertainty, and togetherness. Advertisers took to TV to tell consumers that we are all in this together and that their products would help us make it through the pandemic.
Interestingly, advertisers tended to focus on messages of encouragement and hope more than they did on selling products in pandemic ads. Critics have pointed out the lack of any product in pandemic ads from manufacturers like Coke, Cadbury, Post, and Dunkin Donuts
Rather than featuring products, advertisers in pandemic ads tended to use what they were selling as a metaphor for making it through difficult times. The message, in the end, is that consumption, in part, will help us persevere and come out on the other side of COVID-19.
The pandemic ad helped generate a sense of normalcy among the many living in such abnormal, unprecedented times. Despite the turmoil surrounding us, the products we have come to know and trust continue to be there.
Another hallmark of COVID-19 ads was celebrating the heroes working on the frontlines to fight the pandemic. This characteristic included celebrating healthcare workers, grocery store employees, and delivery drivers who kept the essential products we needed coming to our doors.
Who Were the Top TV Advertisers of TV Commercials in the 2020s?
Many advertisers took to 2020s TV to sell their products during what proved to be quite an uncertain time. According to industry research giant MediaRadar, the top 10 TV advertisers of the 2020s were:
- Johnson & Johnson
- Domino’s Pizza
These advertisers continued bringing their ads to our laptops, television sets and mobile devices despite all the difficult times that cast people’s lives into such a state of uncertainty.
What Commercials Were Popular in the 2020s?
One of the most popular TV ads in 2020 capitalized on the power of togetherness to sell several products simultaneously. In it, actress Sofia Vergara attends a party where someone spills chili. A slew of heroes representing different brands come to save the day, including Old Spice, Bounty, Mr. Clean, Febreeze, Olay, Charmin, and Head & Shoulders.
Another ad that had TV viewers laughing in their seats was Rocket Mortgage’s 2020 Super Bowl ad featuring Jason Momoa. In it, Momoa returns to his home after a long day. To get comfortable, Momoa removes muscles and hair, leaving him a scrawny, balding man. Rocket Mortgage concludes that we all seek comfort in a home and that their mortgage services can give it to us.
One of 2021’s most popular ads pitched Adidas Originals as a commercial solution to end waste and anti-environmentalism. Powered by the comforting voice of Kermit the Frog, Adidas tells us their iconic yet sustainable products are ideal for those who want to go green.
Advertising powerhouse Amazon brought us a hilarious 2021 TV commercial featuring heartthrob Michael B. Jordan standing in for one woman’s Amazon Echo device. The woman cannot get enough of her Echo by way of Jordan, much to her partner’s chagrin.
In 2022, Samsung showed its advertising chops in a wildly popular commercial in which a spider falls in love with a Samsung device it sees on a billboard outside its window. The spider’s longing is finally satiated when its owner brings a Samsung device home.
Perhaps the funniest ad of 2022 was Doritos’ Super Bowl commercial featuring a bevy of animals who snack on Doritos dropped by a hiker and subsequently break out in song. The ad features Salt-N-Peppa’s “Push It” performed by rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
Best Commercial of the 2020s and Why
With so many amazing commercials released in the 2020s, it’s hard to choose just one for the best commercial spot. However, one commercial stands out from the pack in terms of its power, creativity, and relevance for the time.
“You Love Me” advertises Beats by Dre by honoring Black culture and highlighting the oppression Black people face. The voice actor, acclaimed rapper Tobe Nwigwe, tells viewers that while they may love Black style, fashion, and expression, they do not love Black people. This commercial tapped into sentiment at the time when anti-racist protests were raging across the US.
This commercial is the best of the 2020s for many reasons. It is a powerful celebration of Black culture, from styling to athletics to music. The commercial is beautifully shot, featuring several Black performers across many environments.
This ad stands out because it does far more than advertising a product. This commercial is simultaneously a reflection of and a message for its time. Along with the many Americans fighting racial injustice, this 2020s TV ad questions the notion of equality in the US, calling everyone to see and honor the Black culture that has contributed so much to America.
The 2020s have been a tumultuous and unprecedented time in world history. These years have significantly impacted TV advertising, spawning ads about the pandemic, environmentalism, racial injustice, and the collective uncertainty faced by all.
Several TV commercials in the 2020s stand out for their popularity and prolificacy. Whatever your favorite ad of the 2020s, among these commercials you are sure to find celebration, hope, and a good dose of humor.