LBB’s Addison Capper rounds up the most viewed stories of the year from the United States and Canada
It is, admittedly, a touch cliche to comment on the speed with which a year passes by, but HOT DAMN how is it almost 2022 already? One of the ways that the LBB editorial team is dealing with that fact is by contemplating the very year that has flashed us by. And one of the ways we'll be doing that is by drawing your attention to the stories that got the most views on LBB in 2021.
My good colleague Alex Reeves rounded up Europe yesterday. Today is my and North America's turn. In the interests of inspiration and intrigue, I have attempted to include a healthy split of USA and Canada, as well as pieces of creative work and more interview commentary.
It’s a coffee coffee table. Very meta. But also quite beautiful and a nice demonstration of sustainable production. The idea for its construction was inspired by the method that NESCAFÉ uses to power its factories, through ‘ultra-clean steam’ created from converting energy from waste coffee grounds thus supporting NESCAFE’s net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 target. The agency behind this campaign was Rethink, which was also behind some of my absolute favourite work from anywhere in 2021.
‘Signal for Help’ is a truly remarkable creation. Lockdown measures necessitated by Covid-19 had made it more difficult for those at risk of abuse or violence to safely reach out for help, and there was no simple or covert way to ask for help. Through a viral campaign from Juniper Park\TBWA and the Canadian Women’s Foundation, ‘Signal for Help’ is now a globally recognised silent, covert one-handed gesture. Around a month ago it saved the life of a missing girl from North Carolina. It was an honour to get the backstory of how it came to be. Please check it out if you haven’t.
As part of our coverage and marketing strategy for the 2021 Immortal Awards, we asked jurors to pick their five favourite ever campaigns from their local market and give a bit of backstory as to why they chose them. This selection from TAXI chief creative officer Alexis Bronstorph seemed to resonate with our audience and it’s easy to see why. I mean, they just don’t make them like Viagra ‘Golf’ anymore.
I said earlier that Rethink had been making some of my favourite campaigns of the year. Well, this might be my favourite campaign of the year. It’s so simple. If someone asked me to ‘draw ketchup’, I’d almost certainly (and cack-handedly) draw something resembling Heinz. It’s fun, big, proper brand advertising. It also picked up a Commendation at this year’s Immortal Awards.
To mark World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st, intellectual disability charity L’Arche partnered with Canadian musician Jordan Hart and animation studio Tonic DNA for a film that challenged the misconceptions surrounding Down syndrome. Written and directed by Joe Bluhm and Michael McDonald, ‘Freebird’ was the coming-of-age story of a boy with Down syndrome who learns to navigate the world with a loving mother, an absent father, a classroom bully, and a life-long crush. It is beautiful and I am happy it is on this list.
Canada's diversity runs extremely deep. According to Catalyst, more than one-fifth of Canadians are people of colour. As such, holiday celebrations can look different in every home. Canadians are reimagining old traditions and putting their own spins on them, turning them into new ones that they'll celebrate for years to come with friends and family. IKEA Canada wanted to reflect this with its 2021 Christmas campaign. Entitled 'Assemble Together', the spot depicts a Canadian family of South Asian heritage getting together for the holidays, all to the driving beat of famous Bollywood track 'Chaiyya Chaiyya'. It is awesome. It’s another Rethink campaign. It was directed by acclaimed Canadian director Tim Godsall.
Canadian production company FRANK Content is our official partner for the Canadian market. Part of that partnership has involved an interview series with a bunch of the local market's top creative leaders, the best read of which being this piece with Zak Mroeuh, the founder and chief creative officer of Zulu Alpha Kilo, a Canadian agency with a fiercely distinctive point of view and the creative clout to back it.
Did you know that McCann is the longest standing creative agency in Canada, having first opened its doors in 1915? I didn’t, until I did this interview with the agency’s current Canadian leadership team: Ryan Timms (president), Josh Stein (chief creative officer), and Amanda Jones (chief strategy officer). I spoke with them about McCann’s legacy status in Canada, helping Chevrolet become Canadian brand of the year, and looking at Canada through both a global and local lens.
Every year around tax time, the investment market tends to be top-of-mind as people get inundated by information on 401ks and the state of their wealth portfolios. Sex toy brand PinkCherry and its agency The Local Collective wanted to capitalise on this with a cheeky call for people 'Invest In Yourself'. The campaign makes fun of cheesy stock photography images and is stacked full of double entendre such as 'increase your liquidity' and 'You’ll love the after hours trading', and I am here for it.
Leia Rogers is an ECD and national managing partner at Rethink. We picked her brains on all things leadership as part of our Bossing It series. She speaks about a big failure during her early days of becoming a creative director and why leadership skills are taught, learned and ‘wanted’. This whole interview series deserves a shoutout. It’s essential reading for management stalwarts as well as budding leaders. Check it here.
Full disclosure, right off the bat: the US campaigns with the highest views this year included a healthy dose of celebrity pull. This ad for Corona Premier, a low-calorie beer from Corona, by MullenLowe LA and Anonymous Content’s Tim Godsall features no less than three - in Snoop Dogg, Zoe Saldana and Bad Bunny. The spot was a bit of a follow-on from ‘Shellphone’, which featured Snoop and Bunny chatting on a luscious-looking beach, and part of the 'La Vida Más Fina' campaign which has been running since August 2020. Zoe was added into the mix to make it a three-way call and that really seemed to resonate with readers. This was the most read story from all of North America in 2021.
This spot from Hooray Agency and Psyop for the opening of Resorts World Las Vegas was one of the first commercial productions realised entirely by utilising virtual production. This game-changing filmmaking technique is something we’ve given due attention to over the past year and will endeavour to do even more so in 2022 as it inevitably becomes more prevalent in the making of commercials. Psyop director and founder Marco Spier told me that “it will absolutely be the future of production”. Be sure to check out the full interview.
2021 was a year of transformation for DDB North America and over the course of the year, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the leadership of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Canada. But the interview that really got all of that going was this one with the region’s CEO Justin Thomas-Copeland. We discussed a lot the pragmatism with which he spoke to me about his approach for retaining and attracting staff at DDB North America really struck a chord with me.
Automotive ads are traditionally (and annoyingly) macho. So it was refreshing to see MJ Rodriguez, star of FX series 'POSE', become one of the first Afro-Latina trans women to be featured in a car commercial. "It was a surreal experience," said MJ about starring in the ad. "I’m trailing a way for girls like me just to have a spot, I feel like I’m a part of history in another way and a part of change in another way." It was brought together by agency Walton Isaacon and JOJX director Ace Norton, who also did an Essential List for us this year.
This campaign's purpose was to promote what a press release called "Dunkin’s biggest beverage innovation of the season - Sweet Cold Foam for Cold Brew". The fried dough and coffee slinger and its agency BBDO New York enlisted the help of social media personality and dancer Charli D’Amelio to launch the 'Charli Cold Foam', an absolute teeth-tingler of a beverage involving cold brew coffee, whole milk, caramel, sweet cold foam and cinnamon sugar. I'd be lying if I said I didn't quite fancy one. Maybe our readers felt the same because this story was viewed very highly.
A constant source of information and standout interviews on LBB in 2021 has been our 'Future of Production' series in collaboration with Pulse Films. Each interview in the content series is underpinned by four themes to help us investigate how the pandemic has affected production and the shape of things to come:
1. A welcome new respect for THE PRODUCER
2. A renaissance for the CRAFT in Filmmaking
3. Learnings from 'LEANING INTO LIMITATION'
4. Backing the 'UNUSUAL SUSPECTS' - up and coming talent and a more diverse perspective.
In this particular one, I spoke with 72andSunny LA's Kate Morrison about why remote editing has proved particularly tricky over the past year, how she’s holding herself and her team accountable to promote diverse talent, and how a burgeoning career in the clogs business led her to advertising.
Change the Ref is a gun safety organisation founded by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, in honour of their son, Joaquin who was murdered at the Parkland school shooting in Florida in 2018. This year they launched 'The Lost Class' around the typical time of US graduation to highlight the 3,044 students who wouldn't be graduating due to being killed by gun violence. Leo Burnett came up with the idea to get David Keene, former president and current board member of the NRA, and John Lott, American economist, political commentator, and gun rights advocate to deliver commencement speeches to 3,044 empty chairs, representing the dead students who were due to graduate this year. The execution was no mean feat. This interview is wholly worth reading.
‘Comedy’ and ‘PSA’ aren’t two terms that often go together but when they do, the end result can be powerful. That’s the case in this series of ads for Common Sense Media with regards to The American Rescue Plan - a $1.9 trillion package to help Americans recover from the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic - by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Biscuit director Clay Weiner. The spots feature comic icon Tracy Morgan making honest and funny appeals to families to claim money due to them through the newly improved Child Tax Credit initiative - as much as $3,600 per child in an eligible family for one year.
Our ‘The Directors’ series is another constant source of pragmatic information. This one with well known O Positive director Brian Billow was particularly well read. He speaks about virtual production, the importance of a relationship with an agency-side decision maker, and how LeBron James once killed his script the night before a shoot. Check out every ‘The Directors’ interview ever here. There are stacks from filmmakers from all corners of the globe.