The best ads of 2020 so far

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 9 July 2020

A year full of disruption and unknowns, 2020 has continued to transform our lives.

But with disruption often comes enhanced creativity and innovation.

While lockdowns and social distancing requirements have changed the way the industry works, there has been no shortage of great work.

To inspire further creativity and showcase adland’s finest work, AdNews asked creatives to share their favourite ads from the year so far.

From Snoop Dogg’s update on the Menulog jingle, to Libra’s Womb Stories, these are some of the best campaigns to come out in the first half of 2020.

Saatchi & Saatchi Australia chief creative officer Mike Spirkovski
I love not having to rely on overseas work to pick my favourite campaign. Hands down my pick would have to be the new Tourism Tasmania campaign Come Down for Air by BMF.

For anyone who has visited Tasmania it’s a great reminder of what an amazing and relaxing place it truly is. For those who haven’t been this campaign paints the perfect picture of what it’s like and genuinely nails the benefit and experience a place like Tassie delivers.

The strategy is brilliant, the creative execution couldn’t be better if you tried, and the line is GOLD. The beauty is in its simplicity and art of reduction, showing and saying so little but getting so much out of it. Kind of Like Tasmania. I wish I’d made it.

McCann Sydney chief creative officer Ben Coulson
For me, Tourism Tasmania’s 'Come down for air' is the most refreshing work getting around so far this year. Classy and confident enough to say less and mean more. It feels like sorbet between all the other ads. Creatively, the tone is just lovely, strategically it re-frames Tassie as a place that is sure of its place in the world and has something special to offer us over stimulated mainlanders.

Ogilvy Sydney group creative director Shaun Branagan
One of the positives of the lockdown has been the effect on the environment. The Himalayas, once cloaked in pollution, are now visible from villages 200 kms away for the first time in decades. And the water in the canals in Venice is clearer. (Even if the dolphin was a fake.)

Which leads me to my pick, inspired by a Venetian; composer Antonio Vivaldi. The idea, called For Seasons By Data is to make climate change audible which involved re-scoring Vivaldi’s concerti, ‘Four Seasons’ using AI then performing it in concert and livestreaming over the web. The music is familiar but you know something wrong, with the beautiful baroque harmonies now in disharmony. Bravo Maestro.

303 MullenLowe creative director Sean Larkin
Uber’s business is based on people moving around. So, what happens when the whole world has to stay at home? This is a very smart response. By saying, “Thank you for not riding with Uber”, they’ve taken a disastrous situation and turned it into a positive. In reality, people were staying at home anyway. But this puts them back on the front foot and creates an initiative out of it. That’s a very clever “pivot”. And it’s backed up by a global pledge of 10 million free rides and food deliveries to frontline workers.

Leo Burnett Australia chief creative officer Jason Williams
What a crazy and disruptive year so far! We’ve been inundated with brands needing to reassure their customer base and react to the COVID-19 crisis. So, I suspect I may not be the only person to choose Womb Stories as it’s the freshest, most powerful and confronting piece I’ve seen in 2020. The subject matter tackles the good and the bad, in an impeccably executed roller-coaster of emotions. I love the bravery and consistency of the Bodyform brand and how they continually shine a positive, empathetic and progressive light on taboos. Bloodnormal, Viva la Vulva and now Womb Stories. Respect to everyone involved and can’t wait for what’s next.

VMLY&R Melbourne ECD Jake Barrow
Rarely does an ad come along that is able to pull me through such a gamut of emotions. Wombstories tackles one of life’s great taboos and lays it out bare, in all its light and shade.

The perfect music choice disarms me, while the narrative plays out quite unexpectedly – which makes it even more impressive that my emotions could swing so swiftly.

Judging by the reaction online, it seems to have done a brilliant job already, of helping change the stigmas around these experiences.

It’s almost unfair what great advertising can achieve in three minutes.

Host/Havas ECD Jon Austin
Unsurprisingly, my pick of the year is, I’m sure, the same as everyone else’s: Libresse’s #WombStories. I was trying to think of something else to comment on, just to be different, but the truth is, nothing else comes close for me.

Together with AMV BBDO, Libresse has a well-known and awarded history of challenging cultural and societal taboos through creativity; from the groundbreaking truth of #BloodNormal to the beautiful and celebratory discomfort of Viva La Vulva (I once had a client fake a phone call and leave the room just to get out of watching it).

But I think #WombStories is their most brilliant foray yet. Yes, it’s more nuanced and less confrontational than previous campaigns, but no less significant in the taboos it sets out to break.

Where other brands seem to shy away from anything that threatens the time-honoured imagery of ‘problem-free pregnancy’ or ‘contented mother’ (only this year, the Oscars refused to play a postnatal advert as it considered a woman changing her mesh underwear ‘too graphic’), #WombStories embraces more authentic and complex aspects like miscarriage, menopause flushes, IVF, and those who revel in their childlessness.

And it does it all in a graphically unruly, beautiful Frankenstein of multi-media and visual styles that absolutely shouldn’t work, but somehow, absolutely does.

I think PJ Pereira said it best when he called it “a triumph of trust”. And really, that’s exactly what it is.

Someone once told me that you can’t make great work in spite of a client, you can only make it with them.

#WombStories is the most compelling evidence of that I’ve seen in a long time.

Daylight ECD Chris Mitchell
My favourite medium is TV because it is so engaging. But lately, I’ve been muting the sound whenever an ad comes on. Except for one - Menulog, featuring Snoop Dogg. By far the best video clip/ad on the box. I always find it surprising that come award season, the ad campaigns that win awards are mostly those that I’ve never seen on air. But Huzzah, I saw this ‘un. And it’s great. It proves TV ads don’t have to be wall paper, given some creative spark, they can be fun, engaging and stand out from the shows they support.

VCCP creative director Paul Sharp
It’s been a tumultuous year and as such we’ve seen a swathe of activity around COVID and BlackLivesMatter. Many powerful and potent messages like The New York Times,’ ‘Truth Is Essential,’ calling COVID like it is, but also a gazillion others just jumping on the brandwagon to appear involved.

For my pick I’ll avoid getting too political, and hold up Google’s ‘Loretta’ film; a simple, utterly human and life-affirming tale of an old widower who’s using Assistant to help him remember his beloved departed. Word of warning, view in private or while prepping onions.

Archibald / Williams ECD Matt Gilmour
My 2020 standout is the ‘KFC Finger lickin’ good’ campaign from Mother London. When a brand can prove its tagline in such a simple, powerful and beautiful way, without needing to slap a logo in the corner of the billboard, it’s hats off from me. Hopefully we can get back to a world where lickin’ your fingers in public isn’t frowned upon, because this looks good.

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