With help from Billie Eilish, Kia tops 2020 Canadian YouTube ranking

Ads that reflected Canadian culture, even when starring an “honourary Canadian” like St. Louis native Jon Hamm, were a big draw on YouTube this year, according to the video platform’s annual ranking of the most viewed ads in Canada.

The annual YouTube Canada Ads Leaderboard highlights 10 ads that Canadians chose to watch in 2020, with the leaders determined by an algorithm that factors in both organic and paid views, as well as watch time and audience retention.

While a global ad from Kia for the Sonata brand featuring the Billie Eilish song “Bad Guy” topped the Canadian rankings—and recently surpassed 1 billion views worldwide—several made-in-Canada spots, including No Frills’ “A Cart Apart” from John St., and Hamm’s thank you message to Canadians for SkipTheDishes from Arrivals + Departures, in which he listed several communities across the country, ranked among the top 10.

“There was a lot of celebration of Canadian culture that comes to life in a number of ads,” said YouTube Canada’s head of brand strategy, Jamie Gargatsougias. “Canadians adore ads about our culture.”

Ads with a goal of promoting safety and promoting Canadian products and services were also popular among YouTube users this year, with No Frills’ highlighting the importance of physical distancing in “A Cart Apart,” TV personality Rick Mercer ranting about discovering the country for Tourism Canada, and Hamm urging Canadians to support local restaurants.

Gargatsougias said that many of the leading ads don’t feel like traditional video advertising, with seven of the top 10 ads lasting longer than 30 seconds, continuing a recent trend. “YouTube really affords brands the opportunity to creatively deepen the level of storytelling because all of the constraints of time go away,” she said.

This year also saw the acceleration of connected TV viewing, with more than 10 million Canadians now watching YouTube via their TV set. And Gargatsougias said brands are increasingly developing creative with a specific YouTube focus, rather than simply repurposing TV creative. “From a marketing standpoint, there’s… a really wide canvas of how brands can build great creative content,” she said.

#1. Kia Canada “All-New Kia Seltos”

#2. Canada Explore/Explorez – “Rick Mercer’s rant on travel in Canada”

#3. Apple Canada – “Shot on iPhone 11 Pro – Hockey Tape

#4. No Frills – “A Cart Apart – A No Frills Track”

#5. Google – “Switch to Chromebook – Watch Netflix Offline”

#6 IGA – “IGA x Bleu Jeans Bleu – Oublie pas tes sacs”

#7. Air Canada – “Ready for Takeoff”

#8. IKEA Canada – “Make the Most of Home | Episode 1 with Marcy Mussari” 

#9. Historica Canada – “Heritage Minute: Liberation of the Netherlands”

#10. SkipTheDishes – “Jon Hamm Thanks Canadians”

Chris Powell