Trends of 2021: The year in advertising

Questions around sustainability and responsibility loomed large this year, as did the ongoing effects of Covid – but 2021 also saw agencies find a renewed sense of fun

After a difficult 2020, which saw many brands fall back on empty clichés of togetherness during uncertain times, it felt like agencies and their clients got a bit of confidence back in 2021. Brands including KFC, Amazon and Hyundai showed they weren’t afraid to have fun, while beautifully crafted bits of advertising, such as Burberry’s Open Spaces film or VanMoof’s The Future is Forwards campaign, reminded us how compelling ads can be.

Some businesses, such as B&Q, embraced a fresh approach and sense of purpose, while others, such as Old Spice, found new ways of returning to historic campaigns. Covid was ever-present, as were conversations around this year’s hugely significant COP summit, and plenty of this year’s creative work looked to the world’s bigger challenges.