10 top retail sector video ads of 2021

There are some reversible, pandemic-related wins but at least one trend that may be long-term. Think TikTok.

According to data from video marketing and animation platform Wyzowl, 86% of businesses are using video to reach audiences and 92% of marketers say video is an important part of their marketing plans. Against that backdrop, digital advertising platform Acuity has released what it identifies as the top 10 retail sector video ads of 2021 measured by total views. The winners highlight some important themes, some of them pandemic-related.

Far and away the most popular video, with more than twice as many views as the next on the list, was PETCO’s “It’s what we’d want if we were pets,” a success readily explained by the growth in pet purchases last year, as well as the increased time spent with pets.

CarMax the online and in-store used car dealer, was also a winner by having no fewer than three ads in the top 10 (no other brand had more than one). According to Acuity, this reflects a steeply increased interest in the used car market during a period when supply chain issues were making new cars hard to obtain.

Indirectly pandemic-related was the appearance of Dick’s Sporting Goods on the list. Their campaign rode the huge surge of interest in TikTok by partnering with popular young TikTok creators.

10 top retail sector video ads of 2021

Screenshot of TikTok creators in Dick’s Sporting Goods ad

Why we care. The success of PETCo and CarMax raises the interesting question of whether pandemic-related wins are meaningful long-term. We’ve already seen growth slow down for a business like Zoom that enjoyed massive success with the nation in lockdown. Pet and used car purchasing are reversible trends too.

What is unlikely to be reversed is the appetite for the kind of snack-sized, spontaneous, relatable video content created for TikTok (as well as Instagram Reels), especially among Gen Z, a trend smart brands have picked up on.

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About The Author


Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.