2020 in Review: Our favorite advertising campaigns

(Here’s what we loved in advertising)

It’s hard to remember back in February 2020, when the Kansas City Chiefs bested the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and Parasite was winning Best Picture, no one was talking about COVID, the election and Black Lives Matter. We had no idea we were only a few weeks and months away from all three dominating our lives, both personally and professionally. And like a skilled creative director pandemic, a movement and hate for a president or his challenger would guide the way agencies craft their clients’ messages.

That all changed in March, when the world began to shut down. Dying became a daily ZOOM conversation in quarantine. You got side-eye if you didn’t wear a mask. Then again, you got side-eye if you DID wear a mask. Looking at you, Orange County. A grandmother on TikTok convinced thousands of users to punk Trump. If that isn’t advertising at work I don’t know what is.

Coast-to-coast, agencies and clients adapted. Filming from home sets, featuring the director’s family, became the norm as did ZOOM conference calls. And how many of us are now working in our underwear?

And yeah, Pornhub made us laugh consistently.

As if being quarantined in a pandemic wasn’t bad enough, in May African American George Floyd was murdered senselessly by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. His death caused a conversation about the meaning of Black lives to erupt. Again ad agencies and their clients responded in big ways.

Finally, Joe Biden was nominated in August to challenge impeached 45th President Donald Trump for the right to sit in the chair behind the Resolute Desk. Suddenly, The Lincoln Project was on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

While 2020 was filled with tragedy and stress, agencies and their clients responded with striking advertising which touched our minds and hearts. We cried. Laughed. And sometimes were horrified.

The curated work below is a testament to the long hours dozens of copywriters, art directors, creative directors and clients have spent huddled away in mostly isolated home offices :

REEL 360’s Top Campaigns for 2020

1. Jeep’s “Groundhog Day”

How could this not be our Number One? It features Bill Murray in an effortlessly perfect updating of the Harold Ramis classic Groundhog Day. For Super Bowl, Jeep debuted the 60-second spot with Murray reprising his role as the misanthropic weatherman. And we loved it.


2. NFL “Next 100”

The NFL followed up last year’s number one commercial, according to Reel 360, with an effort that almost reclaims the top spot again. This year’s glorious commercial featured real-life 13-year-old football prodigy Maxwell “Bunchie” playing a friendly game of neighborhood football when he breaks out of the pack. And runs.

With his buddies in pursuit, Bunchie is cheered on by hall of famer Jim Brown, who watches from a park bench and tells him to “Take it to the house.” Bunchie does just that in one of the most visually entertaining spots of 2020.

CLIENT: National Football League | AGENCY: 72andSunny

3. MTN Dew “Zero Sugar, As Good as the Original”

This is how you do a Super Bowl spot. Mtn Dew Zero Sugar’s  parody of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is spot on with a crazed Bryan Cranston, as Jack Torrance chasing after Black-ish’s Tracie Ellis Ross as Wendy.

Cranston portraying the murderous twin girls as well as the fluorescent green soda flooding out from the elevators in a nod to the iconic scene just make the spot all the more memorable.


4. Uber Eats “Tonight I’ll Be Eating…”

Whether you’re a “May the force be with you” or a “Live Long and Prosper” kind of fanboy or girl, who wouldn’t relish the thought of seeing Luke Skywalker meet up with Admiral Picard? For dinner? Wish granted. Uber Eats combined the two universes in a hilarious new spot that features actors Mark Hamill and Sir Patrick Stewart.

CLIENT: Uber Eats | AGENCY: Special Group Australia

5. Nike “Don’t Do It”

To address the tragic killings of George FloydBreonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as numerous other unarmed African Americans, Nike released a twist on its iconic “Just Do It,” tagline, the effort urges people to not “turn your back on racism” and “be part of the change” in the world. In other words, “Don’t Do It.”

CLIENT: Nike | AGENCY: Wieden+Kennedy

6. Procter and Gamble “The Choice”

“Being white in America is not needing to state your life matters,” a new and striking Procter & Gamble spot reads. “And when your life matters, you have power. Now is the time to use it.” The Cincinnati-based brand has released a powerful spot, called “The Choice.”

Targeted at White America, the 1:15 ad asked them to use their privilege to actively fight racism and become an “Anti-racist.”

CLIENT: Procter & Gamble |AGENCY: Grey NY, Cartwright

ALSO READ: 2020 in Review: The Biggest Stories of the Year

7. Match “Match Made in Hell”

“Where are you from?” We’ve all heard that requisite question several times and over when we’ve been on a Tinder or Bumble date. Now Match.com, with the help of Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort production company, has taken that question to new depths in a new spot that features — Satan going on a date with… 2020.

CLIENT: Match.com AGENCY: Maximum Effort

8. Apple “The Whole Working From Home Thing”

Apple released a sequel to its popular 2019 ad “Underdogs.” And it is great. Titled, “The Whole Working-from-Home-Thing” the spot features the ‘dogs attempting to work on a project remotely complete with all the hilarious frustrations, responsibilities and oops that come along with it. All the while, seamlessly weaving in how Apple’s products help.

CLIENT: Apple | AGENCY: Apple

9. Ogilvy Health “Wear a Mask”

Last year, we saw actors, athletes, musicians, and TV personalities donning masks to promote wearing them during the the pandemic. Ogilvy Health in New York went a cut above by enlisting Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees to encourage mask wearing.

In the video, the dashing slasher, who has terrorized the young people at Camp Crystal Lake in 9 movies (the first one was his mother), is seen walking around New York City as various people notice him walking down the street, in a park or on the subway and immediately run. Wonder why.

CLIENT: New York City | AGENCY: Ogilvy Health

10. Nike “Mamba Forever”


Kobe Byrant’s relentless determination to be the best at anything he touched continues to live on through the millions of fans that he influenced during, and after, his 20-year NBA career. Starting Sunday, August 23, Nike will honor Kobe with “Mamba Week,” a week full of programing and retail launches celebrating Bryant’s enduring legacy.

CLIENT: Nike  | AGENCY: Wieden+Kennedy

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There are at least 10 more we could easily list here, but we have to stick to a number. That’s what happens when you continue to celebrate the wonderfully talented people who do wonderful agency work.

Happy New Year!

Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at colin@reel360.com or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1