Gear Seven/Arc Studios/Shift
Wake The Town
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

From Edward Scissorhands to Angry Birds: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2021


In the latest Creative With Character column, Born Licensing's David Born shares his favourite campaigns of 2021 from around the world that leveraged entertainment IP

From Edward Scissorhands to Angry Birds: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2021

After the immense challenges faced in 2020 it’s been amazing to see the resilience of the industry over the past 12 months which slowly but surely is bouncing back despite continued hardships. Now more than ever consumers are looking to be entertained rather than advertised to, and what better way to deliver than leveraging popular film, TV, and animation IP! 

At Born Licensing we consider ourselves a bridge between the entertainment and advertising world, and we’ve loved seeing the imaginative and bold use of famous characters and IP in adland over the past year. In what is now tradition for the team at Born Licensing, for this month’s Creative with Character edition, we’re taking a look back over 2021 and counting down the top 10 ads with licensed IP. 

Before we get into 2021, feel free to take a look back at our top 10 campaigns from previous years:

2020: From RoboCop to Groundhog Day: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2020

2019: From E.T. to Oscar: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2019

2018: Deadpool to Dorothy: 2018’s Top Use of Character Licensing in Advertising

So here goes…Here’s our favourite campaigns of 2021 from around the world that leveraged entertainment IP.

10. Chicken Licken and Knight Rider

The music, the outfit, and of course the car. We love this comic homage to 80’s classic Knight Rider and the surprise cameo by the man himself is truly the cherry on the cake of this retro ad that will have you smiling from start to finish. An excellent example of how you don’t need to rely on the latest blockbusters to make your campaign stand out when it comes to licensing film and TV IP. 

Brand: Chicken Licken

Market: South Africa 

Agency: Joe Public

Property: Knight Rider

9. Seek and Napoleon Dynamite 

One of our favourite things about using film IP in advertising is the surprise element of seeing loved film characters in unexpected settings. In this genius pairing Napoleon Dynamite shows how Australians can uncover and understand their skills using SEEK Career Advice in order to step up and stand out at work – just like Napoleon did for Pedro. As Alexander Masson, creative director at Adhesive said “[Napoloeon Dynamite] works as a cultural touchpoint that allows us to cut through the clutter and directly pitch SEEK Career Advice to consumers, whilst still entertaining them.”

Brand: Seek

Market: Australia  

Agency: Adhesive

Property: Napoleon Dynamite

8. DHL and James Bond

Ahead of the launch of what was one of the most anticipated movies of the year DHL pulled out all the stops with this quintessentially Bond commercial set in Shanghai. This spot technically launched in 2020 but was put on hold due to the delayed launch of No Time To Die. Needless to say, this is certainly worth the wait!  

Brand: DHL

Market: International 

Agency: 180 Amsterdam

Property: James Bond 


7. DoorDash and Sesame Street 

DoorDash recreated the world of Sesame Street for this 60-second Super Bowl ad featuring Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover and friends. This was one of several Super Bowl spots from 2021 which featured famous film and TV characters with brands recognising the power of utilising the existing emotional connections audiences have with popular fictional characters to promote their products and services in an impactful way. 

Brand: DoorDash 

Market: USA

Agency: The Martin Agency 

Property: Sesame Street 

6. Uber Eats and Wayne’s World

Wayne’s World characters, Wayne and Garth, star in this tongue-in-cheek advertisement alongside rapper Cardi B to encourage viewers to ‘eat local’. Using the latest trends juxtaposed with the 90s context of Wayne’s World, the 60-second spot is a creative mash-up of past and present appealing to multiple generations. 

Brand: Uber Eats

Market: USA

Agency: Special Group 

Property: Wayne’s World 

5. Wendy’s and Rick & Morty 

In this brilliant 30-second spot we see Wendy’s breakfast food stalking Rick & Morty. Working with Adult Swim, the animators of the show, Wendy’s and their creative agency Spark Foundry were able to make a very shareable piece of entertainment that is a delight to fans and non-fans alike. It’s a brilliant example of creating bespoke animation to create something very authentic to the show.  

Brand: Wendy’s

Market: USA

Agency: Spark Foundry  

Property: Rick & Morty   

4. GEICO and Angry Brids

The latest spot by GEICO sees Red, Chuck, and Bomb from Angry Birds causing havoc in a couple’s backyard smashing into windows and breaking plant pots as a reminder to viewers that GEICO makes insurance easier. We love how GEICO mixes fantasy with reality bringing popular animation characters to real life settings. It comes off the heels of two other GEICO campaigns this year which featured famous characters: Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo Bear joining a BBQ and the Muppet’s Animal making a racket in someone attic. 

Brand: GEICO

Market: USA

Agency: The Martin Agency   

Property: Angry Birds  (Licensing managed by Born Licensing)

3. Pepsi and Grease

"On a psychological level, when people are in times of stress or uncertainty, they look for comfort," said Todd Kaplan, Pepsi's vice president of marketing. "Indulgence is one way and nostalgia — simpler times — is another way. That's where these trends have really bubbled to the top." Tapping into the nostalgia attached with a classic property such as Grease is a powerful tool in advertising, and we love how Pepsi have put their own modern spin on this 60-second spot with Doja Cat. 

Brand: Pepsi

Market: USA

Agency: VaynerMedia   

Property: Grease    

2. DirecTV and Wonder Woman

This is a great example of using film clips and famous characters in a really inventive and unique way. The dramatic 60-second spot is a mash up of sports footage and film footage which eventually sees Serena Williams transformed into Wonder Woman. Whilst it’s amazing seeing original talent play the roles they’re most known for we absolutely love it when brands pair famous character roles with unexpected talent. Serena also appeared in a Matrix themed spot for DirecTV! 

Brand: DirecTV

Market: USA

Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles

Property: Wonder Woman

1. Cadillac x Edward Scissorhands

Number one on our list for 2021 has to be this reboot of Edward Scissorhands for Cadillac. The Super Bowl spot is an imagined continuation of the original film starring Timothée Chalamet as Edgar Scissorhands, Edward’s son, and Winona Ryder reprising her role as Kim from the 1990 classic by Tim Burton. Covered by everyone from Vogue to RollingStone the spot was BIG news and is a perfect example of how to use film and TV IP to get people talking about your brand. 

Brand: Cadillac

Market: USA

Agency: LeoBurnett 

Property: Edward Scissorhands  

Because we couldn’t fit all our favourites into our top ten here’s some honourable mentions of other amazing campaigns from the year that featured licensed entertainment IP:

Boursoursama Banque and Rocky

Brand: Boursorama Banque

Market: France

Agency: Buzzman

Property: Rocky (Licensing managed by Born Licensing)

Uber and SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Scooby-Doo

Brand: Uber

Market: USA

Agency: Kamp Grizzly

Property: SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Scooby-Doo (Licensing managed by Born Licensing)

Direct Line and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Brand: Direct Line

Market: UK

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi 

Property: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Licensing managed by Born Licensing)

MTN Dew and Gremlins

Brand: MTN Dew

Market: USA

Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

Property: Gremlins 

ServiceNow and Willy Wonka

Brand: ServiceNow

Market: USA

Agency: BBDO 

Property: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory  

Pizza Hut and Pac-Man 

Brand: Pizza Hut

Market: USA

Agency: GSD&M

Property: Pac-Man

view more - Columnists
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Born Licensing, Wed, 08 Dec 2021 07:42:06 GMT