2021 in adverts: Our favourite video ads from last year

2021 in adverts: Our favourite video ads from last year








2021 has been a great year for video advertising. Video advertising continued living up to well established growth trends, with more money being spent on video production relative to growth in other forms of marketing media. Perhaps as a result of this, we’ve not only seen a greater number of quality marketing video ads this past year, but we’ve seen them commissioned by a wider variety of organisations than just the usual big brand names, with video marketing ads becoming a more important part of regular marketing strategies.

So, in a Clear as Day Productions first, we are going to be hand picking a small number of ads that our team in the office have especially enjoyed this past year and curating them into a (not so) official best-of list for 2021. We’ll supplement this with a bit of explanation as to what we like about them, but by all means, give them a watch and see for yourself!

‘Long Live the Prince’, The Kiyan Prince Foundation.

‘Long live the prince’ is a charity video advertisement from the Kiyan prince foundation, raising money to help the UK’s youth escape lives of violence in reaction to 15-year old QPR footballer Kiyan Prince tragically losing his life under such circumstances in 2006. From an awful situation, it’s encouraging to see so many big brands come together in solidarity to help raise money for this important cause, by including the late Kiyan Prince as a playable character in EA Sports’ FIFA 21, as a collectable card in Topps’ Match-Attax, and by making him a brand ambassador for sports store JD. The form of the ad itself is as visually striking as it is emotional, using the words of Dr Mark Prince, Kiyan’s father, as well as old footage and imagery to tell Kiyan’s tragic story. However, the ad remains incredibly uplifting and positive, with Dr Mark Prince focusing on the man Kiyan would have become, which was the inspiration for him being represented by FIFA and others. While part of this ad’s uniqueness is the marketing campaign behind it, it’s a great video ad in itself, and it would be a shame not to include it given what the Kiyan Prince Foundation have achieved here in collaboration with others.

‘This is how we do it’, NatWest.

Okay, so there may be more exciting, nuanced ads showing this past year, but we can’t help but love ‘This is how we do it’ by Natwest. Its beauty is managing to be so funny and engaging, while staying extremely simple in form. It is nothing more than a young girl walking through the middle of a car park whilst flipping a pound, some people are impressed by it, the surrounding street lights pop, she then gets in a car and talks to her dad. Yet, there’s something so charming and humorous about it. It’s not conveying much of a message, but it doesn’t have to, it’s a funny story of a child who thought she’d landed herself a pound coin; it’s endearing to Natwest as a brand. We must come clean that this ad was technically released in 2020, although it was in circulation during 2021, we liked it enough to make an exception. This ad is an example of what can be achieved through creativity alone, and how an ad can be brilliant without relying on big budget set pieces – less can be more sometimes.

‘Play New’, Nike.

If you had asked us last year what brand would likely be on this list, we would almost undoubtedly have told you Nike. Nike have made a number of great ad’s in recent years that we’ve enjoyed here, all shot and edited beautifully, often with smooth animation and motion graphics and sometimes featuring astounding levels of technical ingenuity (see 2020’s ‘You can’t stop us). Notably though, 2021’s ‘Play new’ differentiates itself from previous Nike ads as well as those of most major sports brands by moving focus away from world sports superstars, or even skilled amateurs for that matter. Instead of featuring a Williams sister making a serve or Ronaldo taking a free kick, we see amateur boxers getting knocked to the ground, surfers wiping out on tiny waves, and golf swings hitting the turf rather than the ball, the first words of the ad being here’s to going for it… and being terrible”. It subverts the genre Nike helped create to make a far more relatable kind of sports ad, at least to the likes of my not so sporty self, making the brand seem more accessible to beginners.

‘Helmet has always been a good idea’, Danish Road Safety Council.

This is quite a long advert and it plays out more like a comedy sketch, but you can’t not enjoy what the Danish Road Safety council have done here. Playing on national myths and histories, the advert portrays what is presumably some kind of Viking chief giving a rousing speech before a pillaging trip to England. However, he is disrupted by complaints from fellow Vikings on account of him not wearing a helmet while riding his horse, they insist he put it on. The message being that even Vikings, the great historical warriors of Denmark wore helmets, so surely modern-day Danes can manage wearing one whilst riding a bike? It’s surprisingly brilliant to see this kind of production from the likes of a road safety council, and its themes were particularly timely given its release was a few weeks before Denmark and England faced each other in a Euro 2020 Semi-final.

‘Introducing the Icelandverse’, Inspired by Iceland.

Another long and funny one by a European public body. ‘Introducing the Icelandverse’ is an advertisement from ‘Inspired by Iceland’, a jointly public and private communication platform promoting Iceland and its tourism. The ad mocks the idea of the ‘metaverse’ put forward by Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, in a not-so-subtle way, caricaturing its ‘Introducing Meta’ ad featuring its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Instead of a virtual metaverse, the subject of the original ad, Inspired by Iceland satirise the idea by instead promoting the great outdoors of Iceland, describing the act of going outside as an open world” experience, or a revolutionary approach”. Probably the funniest part of the ad, is the portrayal of ‘Zack’, a Mark Zuckerberg-like character who clearly is inspired by the billionaire and his much-discussed awkwardness. It’s worth saying again that it’s not subtle, ‘Zack’ at one point appearing with his face covered in suncream, nodding to a viral photograph of Mark Zuckerberg surfing from 2020. There’s something offbeat and timid about the actor’s performance of ‘Zack’ which really sells the humour – the mocking of a single individual might usually seem a little mean, in this case they probably thought billionaire Mark Zuckerberg could handle it.


So, that’s our pick of video advertisements for 2021. It’s only a small sample of what has been a great year for the medium, but these five stood out to the team especially.

If you’re interested in commissioning a video advertisement for your own business, at Clear As Day we work with companies of all shapes and sizes and we provide a free no-obligation, first consultation. If you’d like to find out more, we would be more than happy to arrange a coffee and a chat with you over your next project.

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