12 best ads of 2021: of insight, idea, engagement, relevance and impact: Part 1

I attempt to share a compilation of clutter-breaking creative ads every week and opinions on industry topics. So it was difficult to pick the best ads of 2021 as there were many worthy of appreciation. ‘Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on‘ is a famous quote attributed to maverick adman Jerry Della Femina. I guess he chose to see the positive side of the business – the opportunity to address business problems through creative thinking and innovative use of media.

While it is a fact that a majority of the ads out there are bland, at its best, advertising can change mindsets and behaviour while being entertaining and compelling. It is a coming together of many disciplines: consumer psychology, marketing, statistics, copywriting, art direction, film making, photography and so much more. Here are some creative ideas from 2021 which caught my eye:

IKEA: fortune favours the frugal

Why I liked it: climate change is a real threat many of us feel the need for environmental sustainability. There is a conscious effort among a few to reduce the negative impact on the environment through our choices and actions. It could manifest in small steps such as avoiding single-use plastic, regulating water consumption, avoiding food waste and products that are harmful to the environment. The threat to earth was manifested as a giant meteor made of harmful substances and every small act of conservation, using Ikea products of course, helped in warding off the threat.

Agency: Mother

A few more compelling ads from January including a lovely wordplay on BBC, a hard-hitting ad from NHS urging people to stay home and more.

Kanan Devan Tea: loved by Kerala

Why I liked it: regional preferences in taste are common in food & beverages. One observes such a trend in newspapers and tobacco products too. These are habits which are difficult to break (ask a loyal reader of The Hindu in Chennai). A primary task of such brands is to strengthen the equity among current users while creating dissonance about what they are missing out on, among non-users. In categories where product differentiation is tough, it is commendable to see an endearing commercial which makes the users feel that this is ‘our own brand’. It is in line with their continued efforts of creating region-specific products and thematic ads.

Agency: Mullen Lintas

The month of February saw other outstanding ads: notable among them being the brilliant ‘travelling under social influence’ for Tourism New Zealand, theme ad for Huggies and more.

Sheba: cats that rule the world

Why I liked it: if content marketing is creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online this initiative from Sheba cat food is a great example. Without looking like one, it is a brilliant advert for the brand. The idea? A set of short documentary films – ‘The Cats That Rule The World‘ which showcase the remarkable lives of some special cats. The jokes about cat videos ruling the internet are actually true as cat lovers love to watch and share any content on their favourite pet across platforms.

Agency: AMV BBDO

In March, there were other great campaigns including ‘The Fumble‘ for iPhone which had great use of music, one for Zoflora a disinfectant brand and a funny spot from Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort for Highkey, a snack brand taking on sugar consumption.




KFC: borrowed slogans

In April, there were many campaigns worthy of applause. I also wrote about the buzz created by ads from CRED and shared some views on Account Management. But my pick of the month would be the smart ‘Borrowed Slogans’ idea for KFC. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a variety of tactical communications from brands. During the initial phase many resorted to urging consumers to follow safety guidelines. Ads encouraging people to stay at home, wear a mask, wash hands frequently and maintain social distancing were common.

KFC’s famous slogan ‘finger lickin’ good’ was considered inappropriate in the context of hygiene and general mindset of apprehension. The team at KFC and its ad agency Mother, London asked social media users to suggest which other brands slogans would be relevant for them.  The results were creative and hilarious as seen by use of slogans from Pringles, Red Bull, Dr. Pepper, Tesco, Snickers which all seemed to fit so well for KFC too. 

iPhone: Privacy

Why I liked it: personification of a concept or a thing is common in advertising. A great example is this one where wind energy was personified. In this case, website tracking is manifested as snoopy, intrusive companions who know all about you and go everywhere with you, until…an iPhone comes into the picture. A visually engaging way to drive home the message of privacy.

In May there were many other creative ads of note, including a stunt from EE to demonstrate the strength of its 5G network.

Ministry of Health, France: life comes back with vaccination

Why I liked it: there are ads which stand out from the clutter purely on execution – good production value, a clever piece of dialogue or memorable jingle and such like. And then there are scripts with an idea. Here is one such: each vaccination jab results in a shop being opened or a business coming to life. An enjoyable film which brings a smile as the idea dawns on the viewer’s heads.

Agency: MullenLowe, France

There were many more memorable ads from June’21.

Part 2 of this compilation coming up soon. Which one was your favourite and why? Do comment in.

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