Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s also the mother of these outrageous new “products” that brought comic relief (and inexplicable coveting) to a heavy 2020. Here are the best brand promo goods that helped to keep us safe, sane, comforted and laughing during the pandemic.
12 ridiculous brand inventions that made us laugh (and soothed our weary souls) in 2020
Dos Equis Seis Foot Cooler
Agency: Fast Horse
Summer is the time of barbecues but, in COVID times, hanging out too closely, even though outdoors, still poses a health risk. So Dos Equis created this ridiculously long “Seis-Foot Cooler” that helps friends safely space as they imbibe cans of cold brew.
Magnum Ice Cream Social Distancing Beach Towel
Agency: LOLA MullenLowe Madrid
Also in keeping with the distancing theme, Magnum Ice Cream and agency LOLA Madrid created these massive beach towels that designated a perimeter that allowed beach goers to enjoy their time in the sun acceptably apart from others.
Aviation Gin Homeschool Edition
Agency: Maximum Effort
To help parents deal with the stresses of educating their little ones at home, Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin introduced a new “Homeschool Edition,” a ginormous 1.75 liter bottle of the spirit. It was actually a clever rebranding of the massive bottle size, which had been introduced in January.
Miller Lite Cantroller and Cantenna
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to a can of Miller Lite. That’s what DDB showed us when it turned actual cans of the brew into useful things, including a videogame controller and a digital antenna, that allowed you to watch live football (without having to log onto sketchy streaming sites).
Heineken: Stadium in a Box
Agency: Fast Horse
This year, soccer fans couldn’t enjoy live matches in the arena, so Heineken decided to bring the stadium to them in the form of real-live stadium seats, branded with the logos of their teams. The contest also gave football lovers their own personal fridges, so that they could pull out can after can of their brew without having to miss a minute of game time. If only the seat doubled as a porta-potty.
Hormel: Bacon Mask
We’ve seen the smell and taste of bacon land just about everywhere—from candles to donuts to yule logs. But leave it to 2020 to bring us this creation: a Hormel bacon-scented mask. Beats the smell of your own bad breath, we guess.
Burger King: Safe Order Mask
Speaking of masks, Burger King also released its own face mask, but this really leveled it up in terms of the safety precautions. It’s been well-documented that speaking is known as one of the main ways COVID-19 is transmitted, so to mitigate that risk, Burger King created these face-coverings that came pre-printed with people’s BK orders.
Arby’s: Deep Fried Turkey Pillow Nap Hat
Agency: Fallon Minneapolis
Anticipating the food comas consumers would be undergoing during Thanksgiving season, Arby’s created this turkey-shaped pillow and nap hat that cradles eaters’ heads during their post-prandial snoozefests. The hats, available for $60, sold out immediately after they were released. The product idea was actually a promotion for the fast-feeder’s limited-time lineup of deep-fried turkey sandwich offerings.
Pizza Hut and Ikea: Pizza Saver Table
Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong
Earlier in the year, before the pandemic took hold of our lives, Pizza Hut and Ikea partnered on what was arguably the most unusual co-branded idea of the year—a table shaped like a pizza saver. The SÄVA was a giant-size version of the little doodad that helps your pies from getting squished in the box during transit, and it was available for sale at Pizza Hut restaurants to those who purchased the restaurant’s new pie featuring Ikea’s popular meatballs.
But wait, there’s more. The SÄVA wasn’t the only delightfully weird partnership to come from the halls of Pizza Hut. The company also teamed with Gravity Products to introduce a double dose of comfort for consumers overcome by 2020’s woes: a 15-pound weighted blanket that looks just like the pie maker’s Original Pan pizza. The Original Pan Weighted Blanket was created out of GSD&M and was sold on Gravity’s site. The limited run of about 530 blankets went for a price of $150 each but, like Arby’s turkey helmet, sold out immediately.
Heinz: Ketchup Puzzle
Thanks to the pandemic, jigsaw puzzles saw renewed popularity this year, with the quarantined seeking different ways to stay entertained as the walls of their homes started to feel like they were closing in. Heinz Ketchup and agency Rethink jumped on the bandwagon by introducing a particularly difficult jigsaw challenge: its own puzzle of 570 pieces (a nod to the ketchup’s name), each of which was colored a solid Heinz red. The idea followed another, arguably easier, puzzle from McDonald’s depicting a Golden Arches burger.
Kraft Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese
This year, Kraft Heinz also created a new product we didn’t know would—or should—exist. Jumping on the popular fall spice trend we’ve seen appear on everything from hummus to deodorant, the company debuted Kraft Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese. Created out of Rethink, the product, available through a contest in Canada (where it’s known as Kraft Dinner), generated so much interest that the company later brought the idea to the States.