Ad breaks go social as TV ads infuse references to digital platforms

Kantar, the world’s leading data-driven insights and consulting company, reveals the results of its Creative Effectiveness Awards, recognising the most impactful ads of last year, as judged by consumers. Throughout 2021, Kantar’s Link creative testing platform was used to evaluate more than 13,000 TV, digital, print and outdoor ads in 75 markets. The awards celebrate those which were most impactful in building brands, driving sales and increasing long-term equity. As well as recognising the best creative work of the year, the awards showcase the “creative sparks” – the common themes which set apart the most effective ads, and underline some of the key market trends influencing advertising in 2021. 

An accelerated shift to digital

Advertisers increased their advertising and media investments in 2021, as lockdown restrictions in many markets started to ease. There was further investment in digital platforms, with digital ad spend growing by 30.5%, compared with 19.2% overall, and more media channels became digitalized.

“These dynamic trends create significant opportunities for new types of creative expression in advertising, both online and offline. Channel fragmentation means a greater need to understand ad effectiveness than ever. The integration of Behavioural Science techniques, better automation, and faster, more granular insights mean creative testing should be part of every team’s development cycle.” commented Jane Ostler, EVP, Creative and Media Solutions, Kantar. “And of course, the universal principles still hold true; when you combine clear marketing objectives with brilliantly executed creative, we see effectiveness in action.”

Revealed: The most creative and effective ads of 2021

This year’s winning ads come from a diverse range of brands, categories, and markets, each using a range of different tactics to guarantee consumer impact:

The Top 10 TV ads

The top 10 Digital Ads

The top 10 Print and Outdoor Ads

To see the full top ten award winners in each category visit

Winning ads reveal the “creative sparks” to ignite effectiveness

Across the 13,000+ adverts analysed using Link, Kantar’s validated ad testing solution, Kantar identified five ‘creative sparks’ that set the most effective executions apart:

#1 – Ad breaks go social
The winning TV ads in this year’s awards demonstrate a clear move towards infusing direct references to digital environments and themes. This could be a deliberate attempt to acknowledge the existence of online platforms, which many of us are immersed in for hours each day. Including visual cues from the digital world undoubtedly makes TV ads more compelling and more absorbing to watch. 

In eighth place in the top 10 TV ads of the year, Chupa Chups XXL Flavour Playlist TV spot is one example of this trend in action. Jordi Rosell, Senior Brand Manager, Perfetti Van Melle, said: “We are delighted to have our work recognised by Kantar. Our goal was to use the launch of our new product as an opportunity to extend the brand’s reach and relevance among young adults. One of the key things we wanted to capture was the independence, assertiveness, and rebellious spirit of young people. The creative approach was designed to break with tradition, using references to TikTok, gaming and other cultural touchpoints in a way that reflects their lives, while giving prominence to the unique features of the product.”

#2 – Every second counts
With winning ads ranging from six to 136 seconds long, the awards show you can effectively tell a story at any ad length. While digital ads are often short to reflect our online attention span, one of the winners in the digital category is a two minutes and 15 seconds long ad for Colombian beer brand BBC, which uses an unusual and distinct graphic style soundtracked by a jazz track that draws viewers in.

#3 – Global campaigns, local heroes
Many brands want to build a consistent perception amongst viewers globally, but local understanding is key to creative choices that are effective and support the global brand vision. Diageo brand Johnnie Walker scooped awards for ads in the UK, Mexico and Thailand with effective local executions which contribute to a consistent global strategy.

#4 – Show, don’t tell
Even with the myriad of new developments and sophisticated ways to stretch creative boundaries with advancements in visual and audio techniques, our winning ads show that the product demo is still as effective as ever.

In first place in the TV category, Mitre 10’s “With you all the way” spot is a stand out example of a product demo that is natural and maintains the flow of the ad.  Jules Lloyd-Jones, Chief Marketing Officer, Mitre 10, commented: “‘With you all the way’ is a promise of partnership. We’re there to help our customers build confidence in their ability to get the job done right. With a touch of humour thrown in, the ad creative reflects that promise and centres on our greatest asset – our people. Leaning into that differentiator, the aim was to take us from retailer to trusted project partner for our customers, really inspiring them to love where they live, work and play. We’re so pleased the ad has landed so well with Kiwi customers and we’re honoured to see the campaign recognised internationally in the Creative Effectiveness Awards.”

#5 – Make them smile
Laughter has long been a staple in advertising. But the last twenty years have seen a steady decline in the use of humour as a result of the purpose-based marketing boom, and as brands looked to communicate sensitively during the pandemic. Recent analysis from Kantar shows that humour is a powerful tool in creating ads which are expressive, involving and distinct. Award winners from Rappi, Zespri, Amazon and Chromebook show that bringing humour back into advertising pays off.

Visit to read the full Creative Effectiveness Awards 2022 report or watch the webinar where Kantar experts reveal the full list of winning ads and the “creative sparks” common to many of the winners.