Which ads did Canadians seek out on YouTube in 2020?

Kia's cinematic ad with Billie Eilish takes the top spot, but the list is dominated by videos spotlighting Canadian culture.

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Kia topped view counts propelled by pop star Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”, but the bulk of YouTube Canada’s Top Ads of 2020 did good by leaning heavily on Canadiana.

The YouTube Canada’s annual Ads Leaderboard reveals which ads Canadians watched most this year, determined by an algorithm that factors in organic and paid views, watch time and audience retention. And Kia Canada’s ad for the new Seltos model – created by Innocean Worldwide Canada – drove away with the number one spot with almost five million views for a highly stylistic and cinematic ad that feels more like a music video than a car commercial.

Many of the top performers were centred on some element of Canadian culture, including comedian Rick Mercer reviving his “rant” segment for Destination Canada at number two, Apple Canada extending its “Shot on iPhone” campaign by taping an iPhone 11 Pro to a hockey stick at number three, Air Canada tapping into a sense of national resilience in its post-lockdown “Ready for Takeoff” spot at number five, Historica Canada brining back the “Heritage Minute” to tell the story of the liberation of the Netherlands at number nine and Jon Hamm thanking Canadians for their generosity on behalf of SkipTheDishes round out the top ten.

Jamie Gargatsougias, head of brand strategy for YouTube Canada, says that the leaderboard reveals that Canadians want to see ads that reflect their culture. The biggest surprise to her was how successfully the Skip The Dishes pitchman and quarantined actor broke through the fourth wall, compared to his scripted TV spots, thanking Canadians for tipping drivers, supporting one another and calling out specific restaurants in a format that worked on YouTube.

She says that the list also reveals that counter to popular perception about attention spans, there is an audience for longer-form content. Several of the ads clock in over the length of a typical 60-second spot, and some are longer-term branded content plays, such as the first episode of IKEA’s “Make The Most of Home” decorating and home organization series coming in at number eight. Not all viewing is mobile, over 10 million people watch at least some YouTube content on their television screens in Canada, according to the company’s internal data.

Two of the top creative efforts were songs created by grocery banners to inform shoppers about in-store policies: No Frills’ hip-hop track “A Cart Apart” urging proper social distancing came in at number four, while IGA’s pop song with Quebec band Bleu Jeans Bleu reminding people that it would no longer be providing plastic bags landed at number six.

A Google ad promoting its laptops in the “Switch to Chromebook” series came in a number five, one of the only U.S. adaptations on this year’s list.

YouTube Canada Ads Leaderboard 2020

#1: Kia Canada - All-New Kia Seltos

Creative/Media: Innocean Worldwide Canada

#2: Canada Explore - Rick Mercer’s rant on travel in Canada

Creative: Destination Canada
Media: IPG

#3: Apple Canada - Shot on iPhone 11 Pro — Hockey Tape — Apple

Creative: TBWA\Media Arts Lab
Media: OMD

#4: No Frills - A Cart Apart: A No Frills Track

Creative: John St.
Media: Loblaw Media / Dentsu

#5: Chromebook - Switch to Chromebook: Watch Netflix Offline

Creative: Arts & Letters
Media: Essence

#6: IGA - IGA x Bleu Jeans Bleu – Oublie pas tes sacs

Creative: Sid Lee
Media: Amplify/Dentsu

#7: Air Canada – Ready for Takeoff

Creative: Air Canada
Media: Air Canada

#8: IKEA Canada – Make the Most of Home: Episode 1 with Marcy Mussari

Creative: Rethink
Media: Carat/Dentsu

#9: Historica Canada - Heritage Minute: Liberation of the Netherlands

Creative: Aetios

#10: SkipTheDishes - Jon Hamm Thanks Canadians

Creative: Arrivals + Departures

Media: UM