The 5 Best Ad Campaigns Of 2021

It’s no secret that 2021 has been an unusual year. From a global pandemic to a supply chain shortage to the “Great Resignation,” brands had to think way outside the box to grab our attention amid so much chaos. Fortunately, several brands not only rose to the challenge but totally smashed our expectations by developing ad campaigns that were bold, creative, unorthodox -- and sometimes just flat-out weird. Here are five of my favorites:

Oatly. Swedish brand Oatly has taken the rebel brand archetype to new levels in its campaigns across the globe. Its 2021 Super Bowl commercial typifies that anti-establishment mindset with a low-fi, off-key song — sung by its CEO. But I love how its personality also really stands out in outdoor ads and now social media, where its “unpredictable and unrelenting oat punks” share their love for an oatsome life.

Burger King. A consistent winner at international award shows, Burger King stood out for me this year with a retro rebrand — its first in over 20 years. Among the many appealing elements of the new identity, its icon stands out for the reward of seeing a B, K, and a burger all at once, entirely true to its proposition of simple yet tasty meals.



Lego. Lego released “The Damp Knight’s Tale,” arriving just in time for the holidays. Filled with tributes to classic Lego pieces,  the spot shows villagers finding creative ways to help the knight cross a river to meet his friend on the other side. I admire Lego’s commitment to its fanbase, and the craft involved, with every scene teeming with rewards for the eagle-eyed viewer.

Lifestyles. A smart, modern, data-driven public health campaign by an Australian condom brand, Lifestyles, has drawn admiration from award judges around the world this year. “Publicly Traded” connects STI-related search data to the price of the Lifestyles’ product. Its index fluctuated in real time, and consumers were enticed to sign up for promotional notifications that improved the discount if STI transmission rates rose across the country.

DDB FTW. This idea tickles me for all sorts of reasons. Agency DDB FTW specializes in esports and gaming campaigns, and when it launched, it created a LinkedIn profile after it “hired” Jerry Smith, the fictional father in adult animated sitcom “Rick and Morty.” Very much built to announce its arrival to the industry, using the character’s career -- a failing one at that -- the campaign smashes the boundaries between the real world and TV.

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