In October this year, Epic Games pulled a massive PR stunt that shrunk the world’s most popular game down to a single black hole. In one of the boldest moves for a brand ever, the gaming platform played by 250 million people around the world, vanished from people’s screens in one ultimate gaming moment felt around the world. As part of Fortnite’s Season 10 live event, called “The End,” the entire Battle Royale Island was sucked into a black hole, with every Fortnite social media channel deleting all of its content save for a live stream of the aforementioned black hole. Year on year, Fortnite’s average players were down 37%, so it’s clear that the frenzy was dying down, and rival games like Apex Legends and PUBG growing in popularity. The stunt paid off, with the hashtag FortniteBlackHole spending more than 3 days trending across all social media platforms. Fortunately for the fans, only its current iteration was subsumed. Epic Games, later released the trailer for Chapter 2 (season 11), watched by 40 million people.
This humorous and fun campaign from Bosch racked up 20 million views on YouTube and Facebook pushed in a staggering 8 countries. The German campaign aims to get the message across that Bosch is the leading provider of connected products and solutions. The main plank of the campaign is a hip-hop video clip featuring a protagonist who is a savvy IoT user. Bosch is entering new territory with its “Like a Bosch” campaign. This move capitalizes on a rash of “like a boss” videos and memes that have gone viral on the internet, attracting tens of millions of clicks. These videos feature everyday people who stage bizarre stunts, perform impressive athletic feats, or find their way out of predicaments with technical finesse.
In February this year, Premium cognac brand Hennessy XO teamed up with Oscar-nominated director Sir Ridley Scott to produce a lavish mini-movie to promote its signature spirit. This ad was based on an original idea and campaign by DDB Paris and debuted at the 2019 Oscars ceremony. Legendary within advertising circles for directing Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl spot, Scott hasn’t personally helmed an ad in 15 years, making this a historic event in the ad world.
Chipotle smashed TikTok viewing records this year with a dance challenge to mark National Guacamole day. The fast food chain asked its customers to dance for free guacamole using the hashtag #GuacDance on the popular social media platform. The campaign was TikTok’s highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S. The promotion resulted in Chipotle’s biggest guacamole day ever, with more than 800,000 sides of the condiment served. The quick-service chain’s avocado usage jumped 68% to 18,500 cases, or more than 420,000 pounds of the fruit, for National Avocado Day on July 31. The #GuacDance challenge featured children’s musician Dr. Jean, whose “Guacamole Song” went viral on social media.
Starring Egyptian comedian Ali Rabee, this ad for Orange Go features a catchy tune to ask the question, ‘what can I do without my internet package?’ The ad racked up an astonishing 50 million views. In the ad Rabee explains that his current internet package can’t feed his needs making him go nuts and speak to animals.
Black & Abroad, a company specialising in travel experiences for black people, turned the “Go back to Africa” slur on its head. Each time someone used the phrase on social media, the brand responded with beautiful images of the continent. The ‘Go Back to Africa’ campaign reframed the way people think about Africa, by creating a platform that displaces the hate surrounding the racial slur “Go Back To Africa”. By blacking out hate-fuelled Twitter posts and reframing them against words and images showing the beauty and diversity of all African countries, the brand is putting a positive and uplifting spin on a negative and disparaging narrative.
The Women’s World Cup was one of the biggest sporting events of the year, and Nike took the plaudits with its ‘Dream Further’ video ad. The sportswear brand encourages new athletes to “Dream Further” and included international women’s soccer stars like the United States’ Crystal Dunn and Andressa Alves from Brazil. The ad centres around a 10-year-old girl who’s selected as a teammate for one of the players and is taken on an inspirational journey through football. Created by longstanding agency Wieden+Kennedy, this ad is the latest instalment in Nike’s Just Do It campaign. The ad racked up over 2.5 million views back in June 2019.
This Super Bowl commercial stood out for one startling fact: The footage used was 37 years old. Mostly silent, it features Pop artist Andy Warhol unwrapping a Whopper, struggle to pour out some Heinz ketchup, and eat a bite. The footage was filmed by director Jorgen Leth for his film “66 Scenes in America,” and the Andy Warhol Foundation gave Burger King permission to use it. Like the rest of Warhol’s art, it’s a commentary on commercialism, and he’d likely have been delighted: “Good business is the best art,” he once said.
Super Bowl commercials played it safe this year: light on the political commentary, heavy on the celebrity spokespeople. The ad was steeped in ‘90s nostalgia, with callbacks to “The Big Lebowski” and “Sex and the City”, surprising everyone when they order a beer instead of their signature White Russian and cosmopolitan drinks. Bridges drummed up excitement with an elusive tweet, the latest example of successful nostalgia marketing.
Earlier this year, Gillette courted both controversy and praise for short film, called Believe, which shows images of bullying, sexual harassment and aggressive male behaviour. The razor company faced boycott threats over the ad, inspired by the #MeToo movement which encourages men to end “toxic masculinity”. The video ad asks “Is this the best a man can get?” – a play on its famous slogan – and shows images of bullying, sexual harassment and aggressive male behaviour. After featuring clips of news coverage of sexual harassment cases, the advert then highlights examples of men stepping into stop others behaving inappropriately. The advert has been viewed more than three million times on YouTube within the first few days of posted on Sunday, attracting more than 275,000 dislikes and 48,000 likes. It still proved a massive hit, watched by more than 33 million people.
One of the most viewed ads of the 2019 came from Coca-Cola Brazil, which celebrates the energising effect of a coke’s signature bubbles. The Vai no Gás ad appeals to Coke’s younger generation of drinkers by encouraging them to ‘go gas’ and live life to the fullest. Created by JWT & Kolab/McCann, the ad was developed specifically for mobiles and was under 30 seconds long, with a fast pace and clear message.
First broadcast during the 2019 Super Bowl, this ad for Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa depicted what could happen when Alexa is adopted by inappropriate products, with some famous product-testers. The commercial, called “Not Everything makes the Cut” imagines celebrities using Alexa with gadgets that ultimately didn’t make the cut: Forest Whitaker using an Alexa toothbrush to play podcasts that get muddled by his mouth; Harrison Ford’s dog abusing his “Alexa dog collar for dogs” and using it to order sausages and gravy. Produced in-house by Amazon, this 90-minute spot was a hit due to its heaps of top talent and gentle self-effacing humour.
Bud Light capitalised on the climax of Game of Thrones this year with a big budget Super Bowl ad. The ad opens on a medieval jousting scene, where we are introduced to competitor, the Bud Knight. The jovial light-hearted scene, follows on from the series of ‘Dilly Dillly’ medival-themed ads AB InBev have run since 2017. However, the tone gets darker as the commercial progresses. As the Knight is knocked from his horse by a mountain-like figure and is subjected to a similar death to Oberyn Martell, it is then that the audience realises they are actually watching a promo for the final series of Game of Thrones. The ad was quite bold, as the brand essentially killed off their mascot. This ad was realized by advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy in collaboration with HBO and Droga5. The Wall Street Journal called the commercial “the biggest and boldest marketing tie-ins the AT&T Inc.-owned cable network has ever orchestrated.” The commercial had input from a director of the HBO show, and a few other ideas for the spot were scrapped because the show was worried it would give away too much of the season finale’s plot line.
Burger Chain Wendy’s took a bold approach with in-game advertising, jumping in with players demonstrate the evils of frozen beef. Agency VMLY&R created a digital avatar in the hit multiplayer battle royale videogame that looked suspiciously like Wendy’s own mascot which entered burger joints inside the game’s unpopulated cityscape, located the freezers and destroyed them. Wendy’s, after all, never uses frozen beef. This destructive escapade was streamed on Twitch where millions could watch, and the community joined in the rampage with glee. Eventually, the game’s developers swapped out all of the freezers with facilities for fresh burgers.
With this commercial, Google highlights the remarkably heartwarming way in which its Translate feature unites people of different cultures. The most-translated phrases are “how are you,” “thank you” and “I love you,” the narrator says over gentle instrumental music and clips of people using the feature to connect with strangers all over the world.
Following Nike’s divisive 2018 campaign ‘Dream Crazy’, the sports giant launch worked with Serena Williams for another inspiring follow up, getting 11m views in the process. The ad encourages women in sports to fight back against gender bias and unfair stereotyping. The ad was created by longtime Nike creative partner Wieden + Kennedy Portland and debuted at the Oscars 2019. Nike also leveraged, directly and indirectly, the power of creators and media publishers. Working with Serena Williams on the ad and having the tennis star release it on her own Instagram created more buzz for the spot, while media companies like NowThis and Ellen were also able to throw the ad more love via their own distributions Nike’s Twitter version of the ad boasts 31.6m total views and 655K engagements.
John Lewis launched its first ever joint Christmas ad this year with partner Waitrose, featuring an excitable young dragon who derails festivities with his fiery breath. The retailers declined to disclose the cost of the ad, saying that it was a “natural next step” in bringing the two brands together. It was filmed in Budapest with an extras cast of around 100 people and is set to a recording of REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling by Dan Smith from the band Bastille. The ad’s creators, the adam&eveDDB agency, said they were struggling to come up with the “perfect ending” until the idea of involving Waitrose led to the Christmas pudding finale. It has racked up 9m YouTibe views (so far).