10 pandemic ads that didn’t suck
Nike 'You Can't Stop Us'
Nike and Wieden+Kennedy showed us all how to pull off a creative feat during pandemic filming restrictions, with the stunning “You Can’t Stop Us.” Created by sifting through 4,000 pieces of footage to splice different athletes together, it portrayed seemingly disparate sports coming together as one, at a time when we all needed a message of unity.
Facebook: "Never Lost"
The pandemic ad that became everyone’s template, Facebook’s poetic “Never Lost” from Droga5 married a spoken-word soundtrack with photojournalism and social media content. Both harrowing and uplifting, it set off a string of copycat work that never quite matched up.
Apple Underdogs: WFH
Apple’s Underdogs crew returned, but working from home and having to juggle screaming kids and nagging parents in a hugely entertaining film directed by Smuggler's Mark Molloy. One of the first attempts at pandemic comedy by a big brand—and it worked.
Aviation Gin: Homeschool edition
Frazzled parents everywhere were struggling with home education, so Ryan Reynolds and Maximum Effort appealed to them with the Aviation Gin Homeschool edition—basically, a heck of a lot bigger and could help you deal with “whatever the f*** new math is.”
State of New York: Wear a Mask
Scary met funny in the State of New York’s darkly comedic PSA via Ogilvy Health, which gave an alternate explanation as to why a Jason Voorhees-like slasher was scaring people off (he was wearing the wrong kind of mask).
L'Oréal: Eva Longoria dyes her hair
L’Oréal was one of the first of many brands to take advantage of celebrities being stuck at home by getting Eva Longoria to dye her own hair in an ad she filmed herself. This McCann Paris spot struck a chord with everyone else barred from the salon.
Bud Light: Cardboard Fan
As cardboard cut outs replaced fans in stadiums, Bud Light decided to have fun with the idea. A 2D baseball fan with a lovable expression went on an adventure in a hilarious spot by Wieden+Kennedy New York and director David Shane, the ending of which is superbly meta.
Emily Crisps: Lockdown billboards
Emily Crisps, a fledgling U.K. snack brand, supplied one of the best examples of how to make the most of outdoor when nobody’s around. It had booked its first ever billboard campaign to come out in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, but made the most of the hubris, with captions including “Our first ever poster, seen by a runner and one pigeon.”
BMW: Calm Wash
BMW and Goodby Silverstein tapped into our pandemic anxiety, plus the trend for ASMR, with “Calm Wash,” a YouTube video that invites you to chill out to the white noise and hypnotic foaming bubbles of a car wash. Car advertising has never been so Zen.
Pornhub: Wank From Home
The porn streaming site's hilarious “Wank from Home” spot from Officer & Gentleman was prophetic. A guy thinks he’s logged off a Zoom call, but instead, his coworkers get an intimate glimpse of his “self-care” routine. If only Jeffrey Toobin had seen this.