The last couple of years have been rough on everyone and changed basically everything. A lot has changed since our last look at this subject in 2018. Now more than ever, it’s hard to grab an audience’s attention—and nearly impossible to keep it. People are working harder, rushing around faster, and dealing with a lot more than before. But even so, there are slivers of genius that break through the clamour of daily life and remind us just how special advertising can be. Here’s our take on the best Canadian advertising campaigns in 2021. Match Made in Hell

Agency: Maximum Effort (AKA another thing Ryan Reynolds can do better than the rest of us)

It’s no surprise this gangbuster campaign comes from the production house Maximum Effort, headed by Ryan Reynolds himself. We start with Satan, who meets their perfect match, 2020, on a dating app. It’s love at first sight as Satan and 2020 begin their classic montage, set to “Love Story (Taylor’s Version).” But rather than laying in a field of daisies or having a quiet picnic, Satan and 2020 get up to other, less classic montage activities like stealing toilet paper, setting dumpsters on fire, and generally enjoying the collapse of the world as we know it. Its next installation, released in 2021, When Satan Met 2020, starts á la When Harry Met Sally with Satan and 2020 sitting on a couch talking about the moment they fell in love.

No Frills: A Cart Apart

Agency: John Street

Using authentic food products, graphic text animations, and a complete bop of a tune, No Frills turned a stressful situation, grocery shopping in a pandemic, into somewhat of a swag deal for their clients. The hook “a cart apart” helps remind of proper social distancing practices, while the rest of the song goes on to bring up proper sanitization habits and highlights the call to #HaulResponsibly, once a week, at off-peak hours. Though this spot was released in 2020, No Frills has continued to encourage its customers to shop responsibly and appropriately through the pandemic and into 2021, so it remains one of the best Canadian advertising campaigns from last year. The song has over 2 million hits on YouTube alone.

McDonald’s Canada: Steal My Fries

Agency: Cossette

Featuring an ode to sharing food with fries, McDonald’s Canada’s newest ad spot showcases the excitement at the returning possibility to once again share food with our loved ones. The main character croons, “I’d dread the times you’d take what’s mine, … after so much time apart, I’ve had a change of heart” and spends the rest of the spot rushing around to different people in his day, begging them to “steal my fries.” From the back of a taxi to wearing a trenchcoat on a lawn holding a box of fries like John Cusack holds a boombox, there isn’t a person with whom he doesn’t want to share his fries. This campaign has continued into 2021, highlighting the resurgence of some pre-pandemic habits that may be able to make a comeback in a post-pandemic world.

Advertising is subjective; personal tastes come into play, but at the end of the day, there is the question of unbridled creativity that not only lives outside the box but flourishes outside of it. That is what we celebrate here—Canadian creativity that continues to thrive.

Check back soon for our take on the best Canadian advertising campaigns of 2022.