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Much like 2020, this year was marked with uncertainty and unpredictability. Many important conversations from 2020 continued throughout the year of 2021, with the world is still navigating uncertainty and looking to redefine the “new normal”.

Naturally, the end of the year is a time to reflect on all that has happened in the past 365 days and look forward to a new year. With the dust settling on the final days of 2021, we’re looking back on 10 ads that made us laugh, cry, reminisce, and do a double-take! We’ll discuss what qualities made these ads memorable, and what we can expect from marketing efforts in 2022.

The Power of Branding: Heinz “Draw Ketchup”

The beloved household brand, Heinz, has become a household staple for ketchup lovers around the world. In their 2021 ad, “Draw Ketchup”, Heinz anonymously asked people all over the world to “draw ketchup”. This ad takes us through various people being asked the same question and the results produced from their sketches. The results were not surprising and showed people holding up their different variations of Heinz Ketchup.

Not only did this ad highlight the power of strong branding, but it also showed how people near and far share common experiences that give us a sense of connectivity.

Comic Relief: Extra Gum “For When It’s Time”

The tone of many ads emerging at the start of the global pandemic was very melodramatic with the same tone, but towards the end of the year, many brands took to a lighter approach. Compared to the start of pandemic-born advertisements, Extra’s gum campaign, “For When It’s Time” takes the lighter approach and provides some comic relief.

With changing COVID-19 restrictions taking effect, this ad provides social commentary about going from one extreme to another: social isolation to embracing society again… literally. From start to finish, this ad will have you laughing and rewatching it again and again.

Beyond Pride: Doritos’ “Nunca Es Tarde Para Ser Quien Eres”

Dia de Los Muertos, or “Day Of The Dead”, is a Mexican holiday reserved for the celebration of family and culture. Doritos Mexico saw this holiday as an opportunity to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos as intended, but also express their support for the LGBTQ+ community beyond pride month. Their ad, “Nunca Es Tarde Para Ser Quien Eres” shows an animated short clip of a family celebrating Dia de Los Muertos and learning that their family member has a new partner. The film’s message is that “It is never too late to be who you are”.

Beyond the moral of the story, the marketing lesson to be learned here is that showcasing brand values (such as LGBTQ+ inclusivity and support) should carry on beyond their intended spotlights. Throughout Pride month, for example, some brands jump on the bandwagon of LGBTQ+ marketing only to go back to their non-inclusive strategies for the remainder of the year. It is important for brands to communicate their values throughout the year and build a brand based on what is important to their organization.

Parody Fun: Visit Iceland’s “Introducing the Icelandverse”

We all love a good parody! This advertisement by Visit Iceland was even hailed by their muse, Mark Zuckerberg himself who said he would need to take a trip to Iceland. The ad mimics Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of Meta to showcase the beauty of Iceland and enjoying tangible, in-person experiences.

This ad is successful as its playful nature does a great job at mimicking the original and providing commentary in a hilarious way. While Meta is trying to connect people in the virtual space, “Icelandverse” showcases quite the opposite experience by drawing attention to the beauty of Iceland that can only be appreciated in person.

The Magic of Storytelling: Sinyi Reality’s “In Love We Trust”

This 7-minute short film is actually an ad from Taiwan’s Sinyi Realty. The story follows a real estate agent who witnesses the effects of love, marriage, divorce, and death on the real estate market. At the same time, the main character also considers what the next step is for her and her romantic partner. The ad prioritizes remarkable storytelling overselling their product, leaving viewers with the resonating story that pulled their heartstrings. This ad does a fantastic job at testing its marketing boundaries and creating an emotional association between the viewer and the brand in a natural way.

Helping Local Businesses: Heineken’s Shutter Ads

This campaign from Heineken begins by showing how the circumstances of the global pandemic forced bars around the world to close in 2020. To support local bars during times of closure, Heineken decided to redirect their ad space from Media boards to the shutters of closed bars. This would result in the bars earning 10% of the Beer brand’s media budget.

This ad does an excellent job of showcasing how they give back to local businesses, as well as demonstrate sustainable advertising.

Bringing Back The Tracks: Cheetos’ “It Wasn’t Me”

In this Cheetos Super Bowl Commercial, celebrities Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Shaggy reboot the 2000 top hit “It Wasn’t’ Me”. The comical ad mirrors the chorus of the hit song with a twist- using Cheetos as the sneaky snack that Mila lies about not eating. This ad does a great job at incorporating a song loved by many and turning it into a humorous skit that highlights the tastiness of the snack- making it so good it’s worth lying over, shining more personality on the brand and associating it with fun.

Calling Gen Z’s: Axe’s “The New Axe Effect”

In this vibrant and fun ad, Axe does a great job at staying true to their brand’s personality but adapting it to suit their audience. Steering away from the hordes of women who would chase a man for wearing Axe’s signature scents, “The New Axe Effect” does a great job and bringing forth inclusivity to their storyline. The main character draws in pursuers from all ages, genders, and backgrounds who are attracted to the Axe scent. The ad does a great job at reflecting the fun and changing dating landscape for younger generations while promoting their product in a way that is on-brand for Axe.

Brand Partnership: Toyota’s “Upstream” (Jessica Long’s Story)

This one-minute ad features Paralympic gold medalist Jessica Long’s story. From beginning to end, the story takes viewers through Jessica Long’s past, regressing from her as an adult to swimming as a child, learning how to walk with prosthetics, and as a baby. Hovering this beautiful timeline is a phone call that took place between her adoptive mother and the adoption agency who shares the news that they found a baby for her mother to adopt.

The commercial resonated with many viewers who had experienced a similar story to Jessica’s and left a lasting impression upon many who felt the overall message of the ad, “we believe there is hope and strength in all of us” was simply beautiful.

This ad does a great job at highlighting the power of storytelling, as well as the importance of branding. Indeed, the focus of this ad is not on their product, but rather on their brand. Throughout the ad, viewers do not see Toyota’s products but do see an inspirational story of “movement” and overcoming difficult circumstances. Their logo appears twice – once about halfway through, and again on the final screen next to the Olympic and Team USA logos, to solidify the association between the storyline and the Toyota brand

Poking Fun at Society: M&M’s “Come Together”

In this 30-second Super Bowl Ad, chocolate brand M&M pokes fun at society with the message “come together”. The ad takes viewers through a series of mini skits. The skits portray social annoyances and inconvenient situations and offer their product as a solution to “come together”. The short ad moves quickly and captures the attention of viewers who can find the skits relatable as they have become part of popular culture, for example, the name “Karen” is used to represent a stereotype.

This ad uses the traditional marketing formula of highlighting a problem and positioning its product as the appropriate solution. The repetitive nature of this simple formula does a great job of instilling the message that M&M’s can make anything better.

Marketing Forecast for 2022

If we’ve learned anything from marketing in 2021, we know that people are looking forward to coming together. From the sombre messaging of 2020 to the light-hearted approaches in 2021, we think that consumers will continue to look for joy in the media they consume in the upcoming year.

Some prominent marketing trends we think will happen in 2022 include:

  • Showing an authentic side to brands
  • Demonstrating what companies can offer to their consumers beyond their product
  • More of a focus on why a product or service is helpful
  • How organizations are giving back to their communities and offering sustainable solutions to real-world issues
  • Corporate social responsibility in the face of the ongoing pandemic
  • More light-hearted messaging with a focus on building consumers relationship with brands, products, and services

To check out our list of the best marketing campaigns of 2020, click here.

Your Business Marketing Strategy For 2022

Are you looking to boost your marketing strategy in 2022? AlphaKOR’s Digital Marketing Specialists will work with you to understand your business and create a strategy that not only communicates your brand story but puts your business in front of your target audience. At AlphaKOR, we specialize in:

Contact us today to get started on your digital marketing journey.

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