Messages of hope and resiliency during the pandemic and outright comedy as a welcomed diversion from the global health crisis were prevalent in SHOOT’s 10 most viewed videos of 2020
The entry generating the most looks combined the pandemic and humor--Snickers’ “First Visitors” directed by Jess Coulter of O Positive for BBDO New York. The spot introduces us to a man who is “dressed” for a Zoom meeting when instead his visitors show up in person. As his wife and guests look on in amazement at this less than casually attired guy, the ad ends with the line “Maybe You Just Need A Snickers.” Coulter is an alum of the 2019 SHOOT New Directors Showcase.
The comedy continues--but with a serious message--with the second most watched entry of 2020, a Drug Free Kids Canada PSA designed to raise awareness of the fact that a high from cannabis edibles can yield delayed and unpredictable behavior, and that youngsters need to understand the risks. Directing duo and puppeteering masters Jonny & Will of the Blinkink studio brought edible cannabis gummy bears to life as we see them cause destruction in a house. A Laptop computer is ruined, a shoe is sabotaged, a dress is shredded, an urn containing doggie remains is pushed off a mantle and broken into pieces, and lit candles are doused by urine. The spot was produced by Blinkink through dreamboat for Toronto ad agency Bleu Blanc Rouge.
Taking third place in our click countdown was Oreo’s “The Fair” from The Martin Agency which deployed nuanced humor to show that even political parties can come together. The animated modern-day fable portrays two “rival” characters, an elephant and donkey, who initially disagree and are fighting against each other--even though they have the same goal. Eventually the pair realizes they can only achieve their goal by working together, and then they are able to collaborate to make a meaningful impact. Framestore served as visual effects studio on the piece which broke just prior to the national U.S. election in November. Murray Butler and Andy Rowan-Robinson directed via Framestore Pictures.
Fourth place went to a spot in which the comedy came in the form of a Domino’s pizza-centric takeoff on the iconic dancing scene from the 1983 feature film Risky Business where the main character Joel slides across the floor in his underwear and dances his butt off. The new commercial features "Hamilton” actor and Dancing With The Stars winner, Jordan Fisher in the lead role. After some very familiar hallway sliding and coffee table dancing, Jordan receives a Domino’s pizza delivery from Curtis Armstrong, who played Joel’s best friend, Myles Dalby, in the original film. And most importantly, thanks to a GPS delivery alert which shows the location of an order in real time on an interactive map, Jordan isn’t caught with his pants down when Curtis rings the doorbell. Matt Lenski of production house Arts & Sciences directed the Domino’s ad for agency Crispin Porter Bogusky.
Our fifth entry in the click-worthy countdown of 2020 takes a more serious tone, reflecting people’s solidarity during the pandemic, specifically in Detroit. With COVID-19 spreading in Michigan, ad agency Doner, headquartered in Detroit since the 1930s, shared this video titled “When the Motor Stops.” Shot in black and white, the spot features typically populated portions of Detroit cleared out. Messages of resilience appear on downtown marquees, including affirmations such as “We love you, Detroit” and “We will get through this together.” A voiceover acknowledges how unnatural the emptiness of the streets feels, especially for “the city on four wheels.” The entirety of the spot serves as a nod to Detroit’s heritage, with references including: “Even Henry [Ford] himself would have put it in park.” The voiceover affirms, “This is not us sitting out the fight. This is us winning it.” The video characterizes collective isolation as a sign of togetherness, closing out with the poignant spoken message that “Here, we don’t stop in the name of fear. Here, we stop in the name of love” before fading to text that reads “Stay safe, Detroit.” Doner’s in-house director, Zeke Anders, shot solo, with the editor cutting and finished the film remotely from home--the same way the rest of Doner’s studio is working. The voice talent, Olivia Hill, recorded from her closet.
The sixth slot in our 2020 countdown was also filled by an inspiring pandemic-related spot, Uber’s “Thank You For Not Riding.” Uber asked people not to use its service during the coronavirus crisis. To make this piece, Uber partnered with Wieden+Kennedy and PRETTYBIRD to put a call out to filmmakers from all around the world. The idea was to have those stuck-at-home filmmakers document their new reality, as they find creative ways of living their lives in the current world, entertaining their families, and schooling restless children. Along with the worry and frustration, they’re also experiencing amazing moments of reflection, laughter, and play. These filmmakers, and everyone else who stays at home, makes it easier for those who can’t. Together we know we can make a difference.
Breaking away from the comedy and/or pandemic norm of our top ten is Macy’s “Switch It Up,” which took seventh place in the most-watched video derby. Directed by Anh Vu of Framestore Pictures, this spot highlights strong, confident women, and the many ways an outfit from Macy’s helps tie everything together. Inspired by the mobile shopping behavior of swiping, the spot features a fun, energetic, and highly modern approach to showing how today’s woman gets ready. Collaborating closely with creative agency Major Behavior, Vu led the team to consider every detail, from the diverse cast of models to their unique environments, giving dimension and value to each character while making the clothes shine. The ad emboldens shoppers to wow with new looks and “switch it up” with head-to-toe spring fashion from Macy’s.
Returning to a pandemic-inspired story is this Kohl’s spot which finished eighth in SHOOT’s 2020 video rundown. Director Rodrigo Garcia Saiz via Central Films sparks a “rainbow connection” in this sweet holiday ad out of agency Yard NYC. In the piece, a little girl befriends an elderly neighbor, filling her routine days at home with colorful messages in the form of posters to her new friend she sees in a window across the way. They post crayon-colored messages in their respective windows, creating a dialogue during a time of social distancing. When one of the girl’s messages goes unreturned for days and weeks, she is forlorn in the absence of her distant companion--only to be granted the only holiday wish on her list; the return of that friend next door. The ailing neighbor returns wearing a hospital wristband suggesting a bout with COVID-19. Director Saiz hints at current events without making them the focus of the spot, choosing instead to turn his lens on a happy and hopeful ending to an unusual holiday season.
Taking ninth place is a Barilla film from Publicis Italia narrated by Sophia Loren, underscoring the determination and perseverance of the people in Italy in the face of a pandemic.
Rounding out the top ten is an eight-minute mini-documentary from Chris Sloan: Key West: 66 Days of Paradise, Interrupted, chronicling the shutdown of the Florida Keys for two months due to the pandemic.
Here’s a rundown of the 25 most viewed SHOOT videos of 2020 (click on title to view):