The Best Non-Bad Ads of 2021
You probably haven't seen most of these.
#1 Cheers: “Cheers To Mess!” (The Philippines)
Cheers is a major cleaning brand in the Philippines. This is actually three commercials stitched together for their disinfectant, dishwashing liquid, and freezer bags. Compare to: The stupid American Bounty spots.
This is what us “old-school” creatives call “pushing” the concept. And the ad agency here—GIGIL, one of the most creative shops in the world—kept pushing until it became downright fucking uncomfortable. Bravo. This is the best campaign of 2021.
#2 GMHC Blood Equality: “The Dumb Law Paradox” (United States)
Via the press note:
“In 2020 the FDA decided to change the policy on blood donations for gay and bi men. From a previous complete ban, the FDA is now asking them to be celibate for 3 months before donating. A policy that has no foundation in science, that condemns sexual orientation over sexual behaviors, and rather perpetuates years of stigma. GMHC (formerly Gay Men’s Health Crisis) urged us to call out the bias and the idiocrasy (sic) of the new policy in front of the whole nation. To do that, we uncovered the 18 dumbest laws in the USA, and compared them directly to the FDA policy.”
I don’t usually include nonprofit/PSA work in “Best Of” ad lists, but pickings were slim this year and this campaign is well executed. It’s not the first PSA campaign to use inane US laws still on the books as the linchpin, but, hey, original ideas are extremely rare these days. Ad agency: FCB Health, NYC.
#3 Klarna: “Swedish For Smooother Shopping” (Global)
The fintech company became better known here in America this year due to their Super Bowl commercial featuring four quarter-sized cowboys played by Maya Rudolph. But it was the non-celebrity executions that were the gems of this campaign.
“Swedish Captain” :30
“Swedish Song” :30
These are of course fake translations (again, not an original idea, but nicely executed). The ad agency’s press note explains:
“The campaign rolling out globally, doubles down on Klarna’s Swedish origins, transforming 50 years of Swedish cinema, TV shows, soap-operas, and music videos into shamelessly hard-hitting Klarna ads.”
Technically, this campaign began at the end of 2020, but it ran well into 2021. Again, slim pickings. Ad agency: Mirimar Creative Group, LA. See all the spots here.
NOTE: Klarna’s first campaign, titled simply “Smoooth” (agency: DDB Stockholm), was even better. (I liked “The Fish” execution.)
#4 Ladder: “Life Insurance So Good, They’re Gonna Want You Dead.” (United States)
I wouldn’t call this a “good” ad, but it makes my list simply because of that sign off v/o tagline: “so good they’re gonna want you dead”. That’s some risky copywriting (notice the title of the YouTube video is different).. Ad Agency: Fred & Farid, LA.
#5 Pringles: “Scorchin’” (United States)
Lastly, I already posted this ad last month on a “Non-Bad Ad Friday”. But it is one of my favorite ads of 2021. Perfect casting: The prick of a wiseass kid and the silent simmering Father, Mr. Clark. You (well, I) just want to see him pick up the kid and throw him through those windows. Ad Agency: Grey, NYC.
I used to do “10 Best” yearly ad posts. I barely made it to five this year. Next year, it might be down to two or three.