9 Best Ads During COVID & 2020

Marketing during COVID-19 was a challenge. 

But crises can bring innovation. And in 2020, there were plenty of inspiring marketing campaigns that expertly positioned products, services, and companies in a way that was sensitive to the surroundings of a worldwide pandemic. 

What were some of those inspiring marketing campaigns and ads that were successful during COVID and 2020? We asked marketing professionals and business leaders for insights to the question, “What is the best ad you’ve seen from a company during COVID?”

Here are a few of the marketing campaigns that shined bright in 2020:

  • Mailchimp: Beautiful Mess
  • Airbnb: #StayHome
  • Apple: The Whole Working From Home Thing 
  • Burger King: Christmas in July
  • Amazon: The Show Must Go On
  • GoDaddy: They Did It, So Can You
  • Neutrogena: Makeup Break
  • Hotels.com: Social Distancing: 15
  • From The Heart Plain Text Emails

Mailchimp: Beautiful Mess Campaign

We’ve been listed as a Mailchimp Expert since 2015, where small agencies and freelancers have formed a network to serve the millions of small businesses who use Mailchimp. To help get the word out about their new Partner Program, Mailchimp launched a “Beautiful Mess” campaign that features at-home photoshoots of familiar elements of freelancer life. As a dad of three and CEO of a small agency, I connected with the dad in the campaign who was photographed with a toddler on his shoulders while working at his desk. The campaigns that win this year are the ones that poke fun and celebrate the long, strange trip it’s been in 2020.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Airbnb: #StayHome

Airbnb shares one of the most creative ads aired during COVID so far. This ad revealed how the company was quickly able to pivot their company culture into a virtual experience. With the tagline of, “#StayHome with a drag queen, chef or naughty sheep,” they get really creative while still sticking to the main point of the ad — stay home! 

Josh Stomel, Turbo Finance

Apple: The Whole Working From Home Thing 

The best ad I have seen during the COVID marketing era came from the technical giant, Apple called “The Whole Working From Home Thing”. The commercial follows a team of professionals that are all working from home on developing a product for a nearing pitch. The struggles that arise from working from home become evident as the commercial goes on, with their Apple products always coming in handy as they navigate “the new normal.” With comedy intertwined with spotlighting Apple’s many product features, it shed some light on the struggles many professionals are experiencing with working from home.

Henry Babichenko, Stomadent Dental Lab 

Burger King: Christmas in July

Burger King has been crushing it on many levels, but my favorite COVID-related commercial is their “Christmas in July” ad, which features local Burger Kings rocking the lights in July, with messaging like, “2020 has been a challenging year / So we’re doing our part to wrap it up early.” Solid, because it was comical and really hit home with how all of us are feeling. 

Joel Cheesman, Poach

Amazon: The Show Must Go On

The first ad I have seen in a long time that literally stopped me in my tracks is the new Amazon ad, “The Show Must Go On.” It features a young ballet dancer who trains despite the challenges that 2020 presents and the canceling of her performance. This is no “COVID” ad; it speaks to the resilience and a spirit that never gives up. At no point did I feel like I was watching an ad–I watched a story unfold with people using products to make it happen. I watched it all the way through, and then I watched it again. As a professional trained to sell people products, it made me feel more responsible in the way I advertise and speak to others. We can only hope that what we all do, and provide, with the best intentions, can have an impact like this on those we’re trying to reach.

Lisha Dunlap, UAT

GoDaddy: They Did It, So Can You

The #OpenWeStand campaign from GoDaddy tugged right at my heartstrings. They released their ad, “They Did It, So Can You,” in early summer. Everything about the way this video was put together — from the background music, the imagery, and the powerful words in the voiceover — makes it one of those YouTube ads that you don’t want to skip. 

Lauren Patrick, Curricula

Neutrogena: Makeup Break

Neutrogena has an ad currently running for their makeup remover wipes. However, most people aren’t wearing much, if any, makeup right now. COVID has given us a nice little break from having to get ready each day, leaving most women I know (myself included) in leggings and buns without any makeup. Neutrogena embraced this new normal with an ad about taking a break from makeup, but still needing to remove the other impurities (like dirt or sweat) from our faces. It was a great opportunity for them to promote a product in a new way, giving the new normal we are all experiencing!

Jennifer Klemmetson, Radiall

Hotels.com: Social Distancing: 15

Sometimes there is just nothing you can do but admit that consuming your product is dangerous. I love what Hotels.com has done with their ad, “Social Distancing: 15”. They created a funny and sincere message about public health and why people shouldn’t buy their product. But at the same time, that positive branding experience is precisely why people will probably book hotels on their website once this is all over. This is what building goodwill as a brand looks like, and I hope advertising agencies and creatives are taking note.

Jake Rheude, Red Stag Fulfillment

From The Heart Plain Text Emails

The best ads during COVID-19 haven’t been ads in the traditional definition. Instead, the best 

ads have been personal, text-based emails from companies checking in to see how they can support. Just a simple “how are you, and how can we support” goes a long way when so many people have experienced a tumultuous 2020. 

Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital

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