The Lists 2020: Top 15 film ads

The best of the industry in 2020.

1 Amazon “Before Alexa”

Before the crisis of 2020 began, Amazon went back in time to show a world without Alexa. The Super Bowl ad starred Ellen DeGeneres and travelled back through history to depict an absurd set of situations that unravelled without the virtual assistant device: a court jester stumbles over a joke, a Victorian newsboy can’t do his job and a mediaeval lady fails to deliver a message.

Client Simon Morris, vice-president and global chief creative officer Agency Droga5 London Creatives Ethan Bennett, Matt Hubbard, Frazer Price, Ed Redgrave, Cecile Robertshaw, Teddy Souter, Dave Wigglesworth Director Steve Rogers Production company Somesuch

2 Bodyform “#Wombstories”

Bodyform’s follow-up to its barnstorming “Viva la vulva” aimed to break more taboos by chronicling all the ups and downs of life with a womb. The film mixes styles of animation with live action to uncover intimate experiences that are often shrouded in stigma or shame, such as endometriosis, miscarriage, the menopause and the decision not to have children.

Client Tanja Grubner, femcare global marketing and communications director, Essity Agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Creatives Nicholas Hulley, Nadja Lossgott Director Nisha Ganatra Production company Chelsea Pictures

3 Setapp “Don’t get sidetracked. Get Setapp”

Setapp, a subscriptions service for Mac applications, imagined the most outlandish conclusions of getting sidetracked: a distracted hypnotist leaves a man with a fear of snakes in a permanent serpent-like state; a son ends up hiding into his old age after his dad forgets their game of hide-and-seek; and a magician who gets a phone call disappears a man forever.

Client Oleksandr Kosovan, chief executive and founder Agency Droga5 London Creatives Nick Lindo, Ed Redgrave, Sebastien Thomas, Dave Wigglesworth Director Jeff Low Production company Biscuit Filmworks

4 Ikea “The hare”

Ikea’s prequel to Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare revealed the real reason the tortoise won the race. While the hare goes out partying with his friends, staying up late to eat a kebab and scroll through animal social media, the tortoise gets an early night on an Ikea mattress. British hip-hop classic Witness (1 Hope) by Roots Manuva forms the soundtrack.

Client Kemi Anthony, marketing communication manager, UK and Ireland Agency Mother London Creative n/s Director Sam Pilling Production company Pulse Films

5 Three “Real 5G”

Three’s futuristic epic painted an optimistic vision of a Britain powered by 5G. Whereas the brand’s 2018 “Phones are good” ad journeyed through the past, “Real 5G” went into a not-too-distant future where online dating is boosted by holograms, a woman has a stress-free flight to the Moon and a robotic England team wins the World Cup again. The campaign aimed to provide an antidote to negative headlines and bleak forecasts of the UK’s future.

Client Shadi Halliwell, former chief marketing officer Agency Wieden & Kennedy London Creatives Adam Newby, Will Wells Director Ian Pons Jewell Production company Academy

6 Rustlers “Better than you think”

Rustlers’ cheeky promise to be “better than you think” plays out in two scenarios that subvert expectations. In the first spot, Little Red Riding Hood comes home to find that her grandmother has been replaced by a wolf, but ends up forming a close bond with the sharp-toothed beast. The second ad sets up a likely violent high-school brawl, before it devolves instead into a “dance fight”.

Client Elaine Rothballer, marketing controller Agency Droga5 London Creatives Philippa Baines, Melina Filippidou, Ash Hamilton, Ed Redgrave, Sara Sutherland, Dave Wigglesworth Director Jeff Low Production company Biscuit Filmworks

7 Samsung “Onions”

Samsung’s love story is inspired by the most unusual of sources: a photo of a sack of brown onions. In this quirky tale, two star-crossed lovers pine after each other while working at rival onion cafes, before finally meeting over sacks of the vegetable. Filled with charming touches and humorous moments, the ad kicks off a brand platform that celebrates the creativity of smartphone photography.

Client Alex Conaway, head of brand for mobile, tablets and wearables, Samsung Electronics UK Agency Mother London Creative n/s Director Sam Hibbard Production company Somesuch

8 Burberry “Singing in the rain”

Burberry broke festive tropes with a stylish and energetic film celebrating urban youth and creativity. Set amid an unusual hailstorm, a dance troupe shows off an impressive piece of choreography, spinning through the streets of London to the coast, where they finally swim out into the sea. Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford also makes his first appearance in a fashion campaign in the wider activity.

Client Riccardo Tisci, chief creative officer Agency n/s Creatives Rachel Crowther, Al Watts, Sean Bell Director Megaforce Production company Riff Raff Films

9 John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners “Give a little love”

John Lewis and Waitrose took a different creative approach to their much-anticipated joint Christmas campaign. Drawing inspiration from the British public’s response during the coronavirus pandemic, the film comprises nine different vignettes and styles of animation, which illustrate everyday acts of kindness.

Client Peter Cross, customer experience director Agency Adam & Eve/DDB Creatives Selma Ahmed, Feargal Ballance, Matt Gay, Genevieve Grandsen Director Oscar Hudson Production company Pulse Films

10 McDonald’s “Inner child”

McDonald’s animated spot tells the story of a teenage boy who learns to embrace his inner child during the festive season. After his mum drags him along to a Christmas market, he finally opens up and gets into the spirit following a trip to McDonald’s to collect some “reindeer treats” (carrots). Along with impressive craft, the ad is a beautiful tale of a bond between a mother and her son.

Client Michelle Graham-Clare, vice-president of marketing Agency Leo Burnett London Creatives Steph Ellis, Rory Hall Director Againstallodds Production company Passion Pictures

11 Just Eat “Did somebody say Just Eat”

Just Eat’s ad starring Snoop Dogg is pure, silly fun. The rapper remixed the brand’s original jingle, professing his love for “oodles of noodles” and ordering “tacos to the chateau”. Viewers might find it hard to watch without nodding their head and singing along.

Client Susan O’Brien, chief marketing officer Agency McCann UK Creatives William Cottam, James Crosby Director Francois Rousselet Production company Riff Raff

12 Cadbury Dairy Milk “This doesn’t need to end”

The coronavirus pandemic spawned a flood of similar sentimental advertising, but Cadbury’s film stood apart with a quietly moving portrait of community kindness. The ad showed moments in which neighbours helped each other and connected during a period of isolation, encouraging viewers with the thought that “this doesn’t need to end” when the pandemic does.

Client Sam Greenwood, global brand director Agency VCCP Creatives Chris Birch, Jonny Parker Director Tom Sweetland Production company Clouded Vision

13 Viagra Connect “Love story”

Viagra takes an emotional turn with a love story aiming to break down taboos around erectile issues. The rich animation reveals how the pressures of modern-day life can take a toll on intimacy. After a couple grows distant, they finally put aside their phones, job pressures and anxiety to connect once more.

Client Rob Elliott, marketing director Agency VMLY&R London Creative Tamryn Kerr Director Paulo Garcia Production company Blinkink

14 Childline “Nobody is normal”

Childline released a touching stop-motion animation after finding that cases of children struggling with body image, sexuality, gender identity and mental health soared during lockdown. With Radiohead’s Creep as its soundtrack, the ad follows a creature that dresses up as a schoolboy but struggles to fit in. When it becomes clear that a fellow student is suffering from the same problem, the protagonist strips off his façade to show his true self.

Client Grania Hyde-Smith, marketing lead Agency The Gate Creatives Rickie Marsden, John Osborne, Sam Whatley Director Catherine Prowse Production company Rowdy and Blink

15 Heinz “Silence the rumble”

Heinz raised awareness of the crisis of child hunger with an animated film about a girl called Jess, who is haunted by an amorphous creature called “The Rumble”. The monster, which is a metaphor for hunger, stalks her throughout the day and distracts her from her lessons. It is only banished when a teacher feeds her a meal of Heinz baked beans.

Client Olivia Hibbert, director brand building, Northern Europe Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty London Creatives Charlie Pendarves, Chloe Stephenson Director Stephen McNally Production company Blinkink

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