As tired as we all may be of hearing the phrase “in these uncertain times,” messages of solidarity reigned supreme in ad campaigns this year. Brands stretched to find ways to connect with their customers, with in-person experiences ruled out as a result of the pandemic, while businesses faced novel challenges, fighting for the attention of their audiences while enduring economic uncertainty. The result across the advertising landscape has been an increase in efforts to personalize, as well as an accelerated push to digitize and innovate wherever possible.
This was also the year of speaking up for social change, with the fight for racial justice more top of mind than ever before. “This was the year of the ‘I Stand With You’ statement,” says Geoff McHenry, strategy director at Wieden+Kennedy New York. “Audiences are demanding action and accountability. Brands can’t dip their toes in on topics that matter to our audience—they have to prove their commitment by lacing their boots up for the long haul.”
Before we say goodbye to 2020 forever—and we are counting down the days—let’s take a final look back at the ad trends that defined the year, with a view toward what lies ahead in 2021.