Campaign US’ 10 most-read stories in 2021

Call of Duty League flyer
Credit: Activision Blizzard

Campaign US rounded up our top reads in 2021 below.

10. Bud Light Seltzer turns lemons into lemonade in first Super Bowl spot

Bud Light Seltzer made its Super Bowl debut with a twist on the phrase, “when life gives you lemons.”

The beer giant, which began selling lemonade-flavored spiked seltzer early in 2021, brought the new product to market with a 60-second spot during the Big Game that showed all the things 2020 ruined — by literally hitting people with lemons.

For instance, a couple rings in the New Year before lemons rain down from the sky to ruin the celebration. Lemons crash a couple’s wedding, ruin a man’s DIY haircut and pelt down during a baseball game with cardboard cutout fans in the stands.

In the relatable ad, friends reflect on how their lives were impacted by the pandemic.

“When did Bud Light Seltzer start making lemonade?” one woman asks. ”Probably when 2020 handed us all those lemons,” her friend replies.

9. VaynerNFT launches with Budweiser as flagship client

Gary Vaynerchuk bet big on nonfungible tokens (NFTs) in July when VaynerMedia launched VaynerNFT, a consultancy to help brands strategize and execute NFT campaigns.

Vayner’s long-time client Budweiser signed on as a flagship client in what Richard Oppy, VP of global brands at Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch InBev, said is a “huge opportunity for a brand that has been synonymous with art, music sports and culture for decades.”

VaynerNFT helps educate clients on NFTs’ potential for marketing. It also helps them get into the nitty gritty, like which blockchain to use, how to build communities around NFTs and how to create a successful PR strategy around an NFT drop.

Vaynerchuk launched his own NFT experiment in May called VeeFriends, in which he sells intellectual property of animal character sketches he created himself that also double as an all-access pass to his VeeCon conference. Vaynerchuk built a community around the project on Discord with over 150,000 members.

8. Progressive's Dr. Rick keeps homeowners from turning into their parents

In this humorous ad, Progressive teamed up with agency Arnonld to poke fun at people that turn into their parents after buying their first home.

In the spot, Progressive’s life coach Dr. Rick saves first-time homeowners from fictional disorder “parentramorphosis.” He coaches people to restore their youth by teaching them not to grunt when sitting down, how to open a PDF and hosting seminars on how to properly pronounce “quinoa.”

7. Comcast XFINITY highlights 200-percenters in new campaign

Comcast XFinity kicked off its campaign “The X Factor” with a spot appealing to the 200-percenters: the segment of the Hispanic population that identifies at 100% Hispanic and 100% American.

Created by Gallegos United, the 30-second ad features Hispanic-American pop-artist Becky G spending time with family and speaking Spanglish while using XFinity products, including a bilingual remote.

The campaign, which aired during the Latin American Music Awards on Telemundo, included a social media trivia game featuring Becky G.

6. Google consolidates global media account with WPP's Essence without a pitch

Essence won big when Google consolidated its entire multi-billion dollar global media account with the company in November.

For over a decade, Google has worked with Essence on digital and programmatic media buying, but Omnicom Media Group held the offline portion of the business. The account was consolidated into Essence in an effort to simplify its roster.

The win followed a big effort by Essence, which has its heritage in digital and programmatic, to build up an offline media buying operation. In 2020, Google spent an estimated $5.4 billion on advertising and promotions.

5. The CMO 50

In June, Campaign US honored 50 chief marketing officers that captured a spirit of resilience, adaptability, diversity and innovation after COVID-19 forced the industry to shift.

Marketing leaders from companies including Zoom, Netflix, TikTok, FedEx, Pfizer, Target, Walmart and Home Depot were recognized for their leadership, compassion and creativity when it was most needed.

The leaders on the list showed resilience and innovation when 2020 called for marketers to demonstrate purposeful action. From launching COVID-19 health initiatives to addressing systemic inequities, the CMO 50 led the change seen in 2020.

4. $3.3 billion Unilever media pitch wraps, WPP retains largest remit

Unilever shook things up earlier this year when it wrapped a $3.3 billion global media pitch.

Incumbent Mindshare retained the majority of the business in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland, India, Indonesia and China. It was a major expansion for Mindshare and its parent companies GroupM and WPP, which grew their remit with the CPG giant to approximately 80% of the global business.

Omnicom’s PHD also walked away with part of the business, winning Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Canada from WPP, as well as Africa, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which WPP did not have.

Havas Media won a stake in France and Spain, snagging it from WPP. IPG’s Initiative retained Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Greece, and won business in Latin America. Asatsu-DK won the business in Japan.

The pitch, the first open review from Unilever since 2015, is a prime example of global media consolidations that happened in 2021 as clients look to simplify their rosters after the pandemic.

3. Campaign US' 40 Over 40 2021 honorees revealed

In August, Campaign US unveiled the latest class of 40 Over 40 honorees, representing a diverse group of senior leaders in advertising as the conversation around ageism grew louder.

Celebrating leaders such as Triller’s Bonin Bough, eos Products’ Soyoung Kang and Netflix’s Husani Oakley, the 40 Over 40 honorees highlighted experienced folks in advertising that have strategically led their business during a time of rapid change.

These leaders set an example as they balanced the changing situation around the globe and courageously navigated uncharted waters in business.

2. Indeed encourages allyship and ‘empathy at work’ for Pride

Indeed made headlines during Pride month with a campaign titled “A New Beginning.”

Launched as part of the job listing site’s #EmpathyatWork program, which provides resources for underrepresented groups in the workplace to employers and job seekers, stars actor River Gallo preparing for a job interview.

The spot shows Gallo, who uses they/them pronouns, studying tips for trans/nonbinary job candidates on Indeed as they search for an outfit.

When it’s time for the interview, the interviewer introduces himself and says he uses the pronouns he/him. He asks Gallo whether they are comfortable sharing how they’d like to be addressed.

The initiative was launched as part of Indeed’s mission to “help all people get jobs.” Indeed also put resources on its site for LGBTQ+ people seeking employment.

1. Activision Blizzard returns to live events for Call of Duty League

Gaming fans buzzed earlier this year when Activision Blizzard announced a return to live events for the Call of Duty League esports tournament. The Call of Duty League, the esports league for competitive players of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty game, went back to live in June as vaccinations against COVID-19 ramped up. 

Fans and pro players gathered at the esports stadium in Arlington, Texas to compete for a $500,000 prize. The tournament adhered to social distancing measures by hosting teams in private bubbles. 

The announcement followed a rise in gaming and gaming viewership during the pandemic and increased viewership of the in-person tournament by nearly 50%. 

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