The stress of this year had minds synchronised globally unlike never before. The whole world felt surprised, scared, in need of distraction, hopeful, relieved. And much of the same when the second lockdown happened. In advertising we first saw brands being ‘here to help’ which quickly turned into ‘we’ll be alright’. Then we found fun again and we opened up. And now I feel we’re more or less back to normal communication but with an undercurrent of grinding our teeth in frustration.
All of these movements revealed themselves in food advertising. This list of highlights has some pre-COVID messages that almost feel nostalgic now. I have just listed ten great pieces of work that stood out for some reason in random order but grouped per state of mind.
category ‘remember the world was fun & innocent’
Burger King – The Moldy Whopper
The food marketing buzz of the year was Burger King’s attempt to highlight the absence of artificial preservatives in their iconic Whopper. The campaign falls perfectly in line with BK’s bold and ballsy advertising tradition. I personally feel it’s the kind of marketing that marketing people love. French agency Buzzman introduced the The Quarantine Whopper: a beautifully art directed series of instructions on how to replicate your fave sandwich in quarantine.
Bud Light Seltzer – Inside Post Malone’s Brain
Human sketch pad Post Malone helps bring Bud Light hard seltzer to market. A bold brand stretch if you ask me: it’s a very, very different product than a lager. In the Superbowl-ad, Post is unsure whether to favour Bud Light or Seltzer.
Honorable mention for another act of self mockery: ‘Post Límon’ adds a triangular facial tat for Doritos.
Little Caesar’s – Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Lovely, care free advertising at its very best. In a world where Corona was nothing but a sunny beer to wash away some grilled bat, Little Caesar’s introduces pizza delivery with a superbly written, excellently directed Superbowl ad.
Lurpak – Where There Are Cooks
It is over a decade that Danish butter brand Lurpak and its agency of choice Wieden+Kennedy celebrated the home chef. Creative platform ‘Good Food Deserves Lurpak’ has delivered many, many iconic food films. This year, classic art is the starting point for a stunning film directed by Somesuch talent Kim Gehrig, who also helmed ‘Softest’, the last film to feature the voice of legendary Rutger Hauer.
category ‘let’s make the best of it’
Heineken – Back to the Bars
In what we now call the interbellum, the bars opened again and Heineken showed us how. Heineken’s familiar tone of voice guides us through awkwardness and new habits whilst having a beer. If only…
Publicis Italy has a beautiful track record in Heineken films, and the world is curiously watching what the new agency model >Le Pub by Publicis Groupe will deliver.
Coca Cola – Open Like Never Before
As the largest beverage company in the world, automatically you’re a stakeholder in impactful global events. How to respond as a drinks company? You introduce a spokesperson to do the talking on your behalf. Amsterdam agency 72andsunny involved spoken word artist George the Poet to do the talking for them. Laura Visco, ECD at 72andsunny phrased it beautifully: ‘The beauty of these uncertain times is that, for the first time ever in modern life, we all get to decide how ‘normal’ looks, and what we want it to be, for the first time ever.’ Now let’s hope we do that.
category ‘let’s have some fun again’
Just Eat – Did Somebody Say
The Just Eat song had become famous, yet needed an upgrade. Shot pre-COVID, the Just Eats marketing team unleashed the ad only on May 7th, waiting five weeks for moods to be more open to light-heartedness.
Snoop was on an impressive endorsement ‘tour de force’ this year: besides Just Eats, there was also Sodastream and the rapper also helped AB InBev turn the tide for Coronaand an understated collaboration with cranberry juice king Doggface (see below) for home security brand Vivint.
McDonald’s – J Balvin Meal
McD’s in the US shockingly switched agencies, leaving bespoke Omnicom agency WeAreUnlimited for Wieden+Kennedy New York, whose Portland office remarkably services competitor KFC. W+K have built two campaign platforms, seemingly serving two different audiences.
They satisfy existing customers with a campaign filled with odes: Perfect Made Perfecter.
Bringing in new customers is done through artist collaborations. Colombian reggeaton superstar J Balvin is the second one this year to make his own menu, after the Travis Scott menu proved hugely successful. The music video-like ad is simple and fun – it’s just that the food shots are slightly underwhelming. What would have happened if the food shots got the same music video swag?
category ‘here to help’
Heinz – Silence the Rumble
BBH in London brilliantly helps Heinz fight child hunger and food poverty. The gangster move of this campaign is to capture the hunger as an omnipresent, amorphous entity that shows up whenever you least expect it: the Rumble. The name already sounds threatening. With this campaign Heinz announced the continuation of the partnership with charity Magic Breakfast. Jjoining them on their mission to ensure no child is too hungry to learn. The spot was directed by Blinkink’s talent Stephen McNally, who also created the gorgeous French riviera style animations for Stella Artois>.
category ‘missed opportunities’
Ocean Spray – Dogg Face
So this happened. Tiktok user @420doggface208 uploaded a video of himself singing ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac on his long board whilst sipping Ocean Spray cranberry juice. For some reason, the video catches an irresistible vibe and Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Shakira, everyone else and their moms joined in on the fun. A reaction from Ocean Spray was inevitable, but the cultural mismatch between the traditional cranberry cooperation and Dogg Face quickly surfaced. The company gifted him a new truck and a supply of product and kept it at that.
category ‘what the food’
- Chocolate and cookie giant Mondelez raised many marketer’s eyebrows when it announced to stop marketing and starthumaning. The announcement gloriously entered Mark Ritson’s All-Time Marketing Bullshit Index at number 10.
- Whilst food giants like Unilever, Kraft Heinz and Nestlé and thousands of start-ups invest in food platforms that help steer towards a plant-based future, the EU lures us into the arms of beef farmers. Our combined governments support the campaign to ‘become a beefatarian’ with 3.6 million euros so we feel ‘enabled again to be confident about their consumption decision’. Right.
- Kraft Heinz was victim to a modern prudery – their ‘Send Noods’ campaign on National Noodles Day was pulled after protest of twittering moms.
Boris Johnson’s weapon of choicein the fight against Corona was a ban on junk food advertising.
category ‘food wow’s
- The company that basically created Santa Clause, Coca Cola, presents Black Santa by McCann Brazil.
- McDonald’s unleashes a massive and impressive growth plan for 2021 called ‘Acellerating the Arches’, in which growth is based on Digital, Delivery and Drive Thru.
- Dutch activist brand Tony’s Chocolonely not only revolutionises chocolate and its communication, it also redefines employment contracts.
The cultured meat revolution is taking off: Dutch pioneer Mosa Meats secures 75 million dollars for expanding production facilities.