2021 in Review: The biggest stories of Reel 360


Some of the words which come to mind when describing 2021 include frustrating, maddening, wow (in a bad sense), terrifying, astounding, and wow again in a very good sense. When we left 2020 our outlook was hopeful. We knew this would be the year that we became vaccinated against an insidious Coronavirus disease that had essentially shut down the world. And we had a new occupant in the White House, that would lead us back to some sort of sanity.

That sanity quickly went out of the window as we saw the Capitol building attacked in real-time on January 6. Reel 360 was also the first to break the story about people in our industry who proudly participated in that event.

In 2021, Reel 360 published over 1700 stories. Not too shabby considering in 2017, we published 417. By the way, 1700 stories translates into 1,067,104 words.

These words wove tales about The Martin Agency’s Geico commercial, “Scoop There It Is,” reviews of Spider-Man: No Way Home and interviews with the likes of Edward James Olmos and We Are Here’s Jeremy Austin.

Since our inception, advertising and production have always been our bread and butter and continued in 2021. More and more agencies took notice of “The Little National Magazine That Can” and together with our sister outlet, Reel Chicago, our audience grew to over 1.2 million in a year. Over a quarter of a million of that audience belonged to Reel 360.

We covered more advertising stories in the New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles markets than ever before. And for the first time, we covered the Oscars. We were thrilled to bring you interviews from musical group Tag Team, Sandra Bullock, Clint Eastwood, Molly Parker and more.

The writings of our super small team, including Joia DaVida, Jessica Velle and Megan Penn have helped us gain national notoriety. Whether the stories were about the insurrection on January 6 or a tiny agency in Oklahoma, the Reel 360 gave each story a spotlight.

In a year of being quarantined, then opened, then quarantined again to being open again, here are the stories which not only caught our attention, but our readers and advertisers as well.

REEL 360 top 21 stories for 2021

21. Kevin Hart, LL COOL J, Brett Favre in new SiriusXM national campaign


Created by Translation, NY, the hilarious SiriusXM campaign is centered around satellite radio as the live destination that brings you into all of the entertainment you love.

The TV spots focus on the everyday activities where listeners may find themselves listening to SiriusXM from the front seat of the car, cooking in the kitchen, doing chores around the house, working out, or at a gathering with friends.

20. Scoop here they are – BTS of Geico’s spot with Tag Team

There are good campaigns. Great campaigns. And then there are the special campaigns that enter popular culture. While The Martin Agency has created memorable campaigns for Geico through the years, nothing hit the population more than when Geico teamed with the old school hip hop/pop group, Tag Team, and created “Tag Team helps with Dessert.”

Reel 360 was the first to catch onto this Hall of Famer and we also scored the first interview with the team.

19. SNL Director yaks it up with Hanes Total Support Pouch

Our friends at The Martin Agency struck again when they teamed up with SNL Director Paul Briganti and Tony Cavalero from HBO’s Righteous Gems for Hanes’ Total Support Pouch product launch.

When the pandemic hit, Hanes’ 100-year heritage of innovation and obsession with comfort became more important than ever, especially with its core DNA being “Comfort for All.” 

18. PEDIGREE: New global campaign on shelters


Created with our friends at BBDO New York, the PEDIGREE films are based on a real truth that it’s often the owner’s circumstances, not the dog’s behavior, that lands a pet in a shelter.

And that adoption can be a much more rewarding experience, leading to a feeling of instant connection, like the dog chose you.

17. Sweet’N Low founder jumps from apartment to death

This was a bit of a shocker to the Reel 360 team. Donald Tober, the 89-year-old artificial CEO and co-owner of the New York-based Sugar Foods, whose flagship brand was the iconic Sweet’N Low, jumped to his death from his Park Avenue apartment on an early January morning.

Tober, who was reportedly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, leapt just before 5 a.m. Friday, and was found in the courtyard of the luxury Upper East Side building between 65th and 66th streets.

16. Lily is back for March Madness for AT&T

In 2020, AT&T and our friends at BBDO LA rebooted MVP spokeswoman Lily. In 2021, she brought her marquee charm to a suite of new March Madness-themed spots that aired on CBS

Just like a coach or an analyst breaks down the game, Lily is great at breaking down our products and services for our customers.

The campaign also showed everyone cheers for Lily (played by actress, comedian and director Milana Vayntrub) time and time again.

15. Imvexxy changes how we view menopause


Created by our friends at McCann New York, Long May She Reign, TherapeuticsMD, Inc. introduced menopausing women to IMVEXXY, an estrogen vaginal insert that can relieve moderate to severe painful sex due to menopause.

The empowering campaign asked women to be open, vibrant and in control of their changing lives.

14. David&Goliath turn Kia Sorento into storytelling machine

In January, Kia Motors introduced the all-new 2021 Sorento, a rugged, mid-size SUV that’s much more than just an SUV, it’s the world’s first storytelling machine.

Our friends at David&Goliath positioned the Sorento as “a powerful, highly sophisticated tool that helps people discover the stories that are out there, in an era where stories are the ultimate currency.”

13. Exclusive: MacGyver star Lucas Till on series ending

April saw CBS end MacGyver’s five-year run. Foreign entertainment correspondent, Aymara Lima was fortunate to chat with Lucas Till, star of MacGyver. Aymara found the actor to be inspiring as did the Reel 360 team.

12. HBO’s ‘We’re Here’ Jeremy Austin aka 6 is here


Magnificent Makeup Artist and Drag Queen, Jeremy Austin aka 6, of HBO’s award-winning reality series We’re Here, shared their story on with writer Jessica Velle.

Together they discussed how a 17-year-old teen from Columbus, Ohio overcame homelessness and drug addiction to becoming an incredible drag performer and Head Makeup Artist.

11. Lauren Boebert under fire for tweeting Pelosi location

Five days after the January 6 Insurrection, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a gun-toting supporter of the QAnon movement, came under fire and faced backlash after being accused of live-tweeting the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) during the attack on Capitol Hill.

Did she? We still don’t know.

REELated: 2021 in Review: Lost, but not forgotten

10. Kevin Durant and Degree team for “Tears of Joy”

There are stories that take the audience by storm right away. Then there are the pieces that sneak in under the radar and end up one of the top stories of the year. This Kevin Durant Degree deodorant spots is the latter.

The NBA star and Unilever’s Degree Deodorant launched a new BBDO New York campaign, “Tears of Joy,” which offered a firsthand look at the NBA star’s inspiring journey back to the court and how he stayed motivated.

9. ServiceNow’s new Willy Wonka campaign is sweet

BBDO occupied many a Reel Ad of the Week in 2021. This Service Now, campaign diving into the tantalizing world of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, was one of the standouts.

8. Sasha Calle: Latina actress is DC’s new Supergirl

Anyone who reads Reel 360 knows we have a soft spot for anything superhero. This story turned out to be heroic for us.

We were thrilled when we heard Latina Sasha Calle, actress from Young And The Restless has scored the feature role of DC Universe’s new Supergirl. The Boston, MA-born Colombian actress is the first Latina Supergirl ever in DC and was chosen from more than 425 actresses who auditioned.

She will make her debut in Warner Bros’ The Flash which opens next year.

7. Zoe Saldana joins Snoop, Bad Bunny for a Corona

Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Trek star, Zoe Saldana became the new face of Corona Premier, the 90-calorie light beer from Corona.

The international star and advocate for Hispanic voices, joined the Corona cast of Snoop Dogg and Bad Bunny to represent a La Vida Más Fina perspective on wellness.

6. Craig Robinson goes waay back in Pizza Hut campaign

Pizza Hut brought all the nostalgic feels to customers with a new brand campaign from GSD&M that captures the concept of ‘Newstalgia.’

To help launch the campaign, Pizza Hut teamed up with new spokesperson, actor and comedian Craig Robinson for a TV campaign directed by Chelsea Picture’s David Gordon Green.

5. Josh Hurley, former Deutsch, FCB creative passes

This was a sad one. Popular Creative Director Josh Hurley, who had moved to the West Coast from Chicago, was found dead in Michigan. The probable cause of death was due to an OD.

4. Erica Hilbert offers her side – claims she was hacked

This was the second of two stories that focused on former Mill Chicago Managing Director, Erica Hilbert.

Hilbert was terminated after posting pics of herself at the January 6 Insurrection and incendiary and taunting tweets targeting Republican politicians, including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

3. Rashida Jones, Naomie Harris in new Expedia work

From an updated look and feel to enhanced product offerings, Expedia looked to double down on efforts to deliver on travelers’ evolving wants and needs in a post-pandemic world.

The new approach, launched in April, included a new film creative, created by Team One and Saatchi and Saatchi, London, featuring  Rashida Jones (On the Rocks, Black AF), and  Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Spectre).

2. Mill Chicago’s Erica Hilbert fired for pro insurrection tweets

Last January, Reel 360 broke the news that Erica Hilbert, who was The Mill Chicago’s managing director since 2019, had been fired due to her participation in, and social media support of, January’s insurrection which took place outside and inside of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

1. Scoop there it is for Geico

Reel 360 was the first to recognize the fun and genius of this Geico commercial. Created by The Martin Agency, an announcer informs Tasha that GEICO could save her hundreds on car insurance and a whole lot more and soon finds herself with the old school hip hop duo, Tag Team.

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There were plenty more stories. One thousand six hundred and seventy-nine to be exact. We expect in 2022 to publish over 2,000 stories in 2022. We promise to bring you the best of what is going on in advertising, film, TV, music and more.

Have the happiest of New Years from The Reel 360 team.