Human Centered Ads: 2020 Edition

If you had asked me to predict the big conversations in 2020 advertising on December 31st, 2019, I would have parroted the IAS Digital Media Industry Pulse Report and noted that “privacy and data security will be the major focus of 2020.” This incredibly cold technical point of view is a great example of how advertisers could have been too single-minded and completely missed the mark this year.

Over a very long 365 days, many of us felt more isolated, enraged, and exhausted by the state of the world than we could have imagined. This shift wasn’t something that could be ignored, and as the year unfolded, plenty of marketers stepped back and tried to figure out how to address the uncharted challenges. 

With this barrage of stress it’s been heartening to see some brands acknowledge the impact of 2020. Instead of pushing a conversion, there are plenty of brands that have acknowledged the punches. Brands that reminded us that people were fighting for us, that we need to raise our voices, and that we are not alone.

1. No Mask, No Ride: Uber

2. The Truth is: NBA

3. #PlayInside #PlayForTheWorld: Nike


A post shared by Nike (@nike)

4. Courage is Beautiful: Dove

5. They Were One of Us: McDonald's


2020 was unprecedented (even if we’ve heard it 100 times, it’s still true). Instead of taking an easy route and sticking to the plan, some marketers exhibited empathy, even if it meant stepping outside of a roadmap and taking a risk. At the 2021 proverbial planning table there will still be discussions about how to live in a cookieless world, but I hope we also bring learnings from 2020 as well. That brands can and should adapt to the world around us, and speak up when needed.

Written by Rachel Thompson on January 11, 2021


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Rachel Thompson