5 of our favourite ads this year

Time to read: 3 min

Dec 10 2020

What a year. It’s been a year of challenges in many ways. And for video marketers, the challenge of producing engaging content in a time when face-to-face interaction has been limited, was a particularly tough nut to crack. Not to be deterred, many top brands utilised unusual techniques to get their message out there when traditional filming proved almost impossible. Home videos, simple graphics and even Powerpoint presentations take centre stage in this year’s best of the best. They demonstrate that when forced to think outside the box, you often come up with the best results. 

Skylark’s Creative Director James Sampson lists his favourites:

Ikea: Making Home Count (April 2020) 

In this moving montage, the product takes a back seat to quality family time through a series of genuine home videos filmed by the team of creatives at agency TBWA\Singapore. This is a reminder of the simple moments that we shouldn’t take for granted, without being overly saccharine. . The ad also plays perfectly with Ikea’s message of ‘making home count’. 

Mint Mobile (May 2020) 

Never did I think that a Powerpoint presentation would make my list for the best ads of the year. Of course, it helps that this particularly slide show is brought to us by that Ryan Reynolds. After apparently canning their planned ‘epic’ shoot for Mint Mobile’s new commercial due to COVID, Reynolds runs us through the benefits of signing up with Mint on his laptop. In the process, he accidentally clicking on messages of support from ‘Mom’ and reveals a disturbing number of documents saved to his desktop. Simple, hilarious, and, against all odds, totally innovative. The ad was created by Reynold’s production agency, Maximum Effort.

Facebook: Born in Quarantine (May 2020) 

Having a new baby is emotional. Having a baby in 2020? Heart wrenching. Facebook’s May campaign took a sledgehammer to the heartstrings with this powerful voiceover from a 100-year-old woman reflecting on being born during the influenza pandemic in 1920. Combining archive, stills, screenshots and filmed footage, this video launched Facebook’s Parent Support Hub with real impact. 

Nike: For Once Don’t Do It (May 2020) 

The kings of the big budget commercial surprised us all in 2020. A recurring entry into my best of the year for their cinematic extravaganzas, this year they did it again. How? With nothing but white text on a black screen. This video is bold in its simplicity, presenting a series of statements in solidarity with the black lives matter protests sweeping across the US. Usually, I would say an image is worth a thousand words. In this case, I stand corrected. An incredible demonstration of the power of strong copy literally spelled out in black and white. 

Take a fantastic voyage with Photoshop (Aug 2020) 

To finish off here’s a slightly more conventional entry, with all the bells and whistles you’d come to expect from a big-name brand film. The difference is that it’s all completely composited together through the power of Adobe Creative Cloud applications. In a year where we were all shut up in doors, this is a powerful reminder of what is possible without stepping outdoors. And they’ve done this via incredible graphics and effects. I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of this style next year, as marketers realise that, through technology, our only limitation is truly our imagination. 

James Sampson

Creative Director, Skylark Media. James specialises in emotional storytelling having spent his career working on dramas including Broadchurch, Doctor Who and Sky's Stella. At Skylark, he's directed TV ads for Longleat, My Family Vets and Nisbets.