Favorite Campaigns in a Year Not So Favorite

It’s end of year “List” time again. The top this, the top that… In our world, we often talk about the best TV spots most consumers see regularly but a lot has changed this year. Yes, there’s the pandemic and lots of campaigns addressing this topic, but I’m referring to viewership and how we consume information and entertainment in today’s world. As far as commercials go, you probably either see zero or a handful of the same ones over and over again. Even if you’ve cut the cord on cable, subscribe to many ad free streaming services, you’re still subjected to some over-the-top (OTT) advertising on streaming platforms of cable channels such as AMC, TMC, Discovery, etc. That OTT presence is where you see the same spots over and over again.

Another strong shift in how content is consumed is through mobile for entertainment and social media this year. More people get their entertainment and news from social media and streaming TV apps. This year, my list of favorite campaigns is based on these shifts.


The campaign to launch the latest streaming platform to throw its hat into the ring certainly did its homework on the target audience. I think even folks that are not in the ad industry have a pretty good idea of the demographic for shows like Food Network, Lifetime and TLC.

There’s a ton of content on this streaming service and to try and show it all in a quick spot is tough. It’s all in there, but it goes by quick. Each time you see it, you may notice something new or different from the last time. How do you pull it all together? Music. Specifically music that drives home a message: “A million dreams…” and one that this demographic relates to and adores. The Greatest Showman movie and soundtrack was one of the brightest a few years back. The brightest and most adored by, you guessed it, the exact same demographic of so many of the new Discovery+ channels. Research, well done.

Steak-umm: Campaign against misinformation

I certainly never expected to find a voice of reason in the feeds of social media with my childhood favorite, frozen beef brand Steak-umm. They apparently get real serious about social connections between companies and consumers and joined in an ongoing battle against misinformation at the most vital time in American history.

Via Twitter, Steak-umm vaulted the brand’s status from respected niche marketer to a trending thought leader. The approach has built a massively passionate fan base for a relatively small consumer packaged brand.

Google: “Hum to Search”

This is basic, straightforward ad strategy at its best. Not a bunch of edits, audio and art cards. Keeping it simple as possible to deliver the feature: you can hum, whistle or sing a melody to Google to solve your earworm. Tap the mic icon and say “what’s this song?” or click the “Search a song” button. Then start humming for 10-15 seconds.

Ocean Spray and TikTok, Dreams

This fall, Ocean Spray unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a social media phenomenon, when a TikTok user posted a video of himself riding a longboard down a hill while drinking the brand’s cranberry juice and lip-syncing “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

It has now been viewed 73 million times on TikTok and spawned an explosion of reenactments, including from Mick Fleetwood. Ocean Spray then bought a cranberry-red truck for the fan who had been riding the skateboard due to his ride being out of commission. TikTok, which enjoyed a huge boost in mainstream visibility thanks to the post, cashed in on it all by creating an ad about how “It Starts on TikTok.”

Photo by MEGA/Getty Images

State Farm: “Kenny Mayne Predictions”

I’m a big MJ fan, so I was of course glued to the mega-popular sports documentary, The Last Dance. In a year where reality often seemed stranger than fiction, no marketing was more effective than State Farm’s hilariously spot-on deepfake that aired as a sponsor message during the doc. State Farm used cutting-edge technology to show Kenny Mayne back in the 90’s in the ESPN studios eerily predicting the 2020 documentary itself… while ending each spot predicting that the segment will be used to promote the documentary in a State Farm commercial.

Visit our Deep Ads Thoughts blog to learn more about current advertising, marketing, and public relations tips and trends. Plus, check out our Push n’ Pull blog for all things in the world of digital and social media.

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