The Top 10 Muse Essays of 2021

Our most-read guest pieces of the year

Guest essays from the industry are a big part of our content, bringing fresh and interesting perspectives every day. Below, check out the most-read essays from 2021. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write this year. And as always, shoot me a note if you've got an idea for a piece.

Also, check out our other Year in Review stories here:


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10 Great Album Covers Driven by Powerful Photography

By Andrew Irving of Rhubarb Agency
Feb. 18, 2021

Growing up in the vinyl era, album art was an important and intriguing part of my appreciation for photography—meditating on the album cover and liner notes was as much a part of the experience as listening to the music. The album art and the music were inextricable. When I was thinking about the album covers that were most powerful to me, I realized that the ones that had powerful photography resonated the most...

Read the full story here.


9️⃣

The Biggest Sport You've Barely Heard Of

By Michael Vitug of Intertrend
Aug. 25, 2021

Cricket has grown rapidly in America for the past decade, in large part due to growing immigration to the U.S. from cricket-loving regions like South Asia, where 92 percent of the sport's fanbase is from. Today, the U.S. is home to an estimated 30 million cricket fans. Streaming platforms have made it easier to watch cricket matches from the world's most popular league—the Indian Premier League (IPL)—and other top leagues worldwide such as Big Bash League (BBL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL)...

Read the full story here.


8️⃣

The One Big Mistake Brands Make in Understanding Culture

By Timanni Walker of BBH New York
March 17, 2021

When brands utilize culture, it can be a great way to connect with a certain audience, build credibility, and even achieve viral fame. However, when executed poorly, it can also lead to appropriation and sometimes even feel like pandering. So, how can brands avoid this trap? ...

Read the full story here.


7️⃣

I Killed the Copywriter

By Ian Grody of Giant Spoon
Nov. 10, 2021

So, I've got this trigger. Only it's more than a trigger. It's a big, juicy, Porterhouse-sized beef with a word that's outmoded, inaccurate, demotivating, LAAAME; a vestige of a bygone era; a linguistic spleen in advertising's body. The word, as you may have guessed, is copywriter. But why? Why is "copywriter" objectively no bueno? And how does it reduce most creative talent to profoundly less than they are? ...

Read the full story here.


6️⃣

Rise of the Avatars: Their Future in Gaming, Fashion and Music

By Doug Scott of Subnation
Feb. 1, 2021

I recently hosted an industry roundtable about the rise of avatars in a variety of entertainment and retail businesses, from gaming to fashion and music. So much creativity on display. Great brand partnerships. A thriving marketplace. Unprecedented levels of engagement. Yet during this lively conversation, my mind kept returning to one thing ... Roblox.

Read the full story here.


5️⃣

What Marketers Need to Know About Women Over 50

By Susan Lee Colby of Grace Creative LA
June 24, 2021

Think about it. Our hormones are changing. We have a growing sense of independence. And we're hungry for new adventures, new relationships, and a redefined sense of self. Honestly, all we want to do is focus on ourselves now. Advertisers need to understand that midlife is a second adolescence. Only this time with money, time and opportunity. There's even a name for it. It's called Middlescence...

Read the full story here.


4️⃣

Bordering on Disaster: The Mental Health Diagnosis That Saved Me

By Dave Moore of Moore & More
May 19, 2021

These are the scariest words I've ever written. Partly because of what "everyone" will think. But mainly because it feels like it could be self-sabotaging behavior. And I know a thing or two about self-sabotage. Because it's part of my mental health diagnosis. See, I have Borderline Personality Disorder...

Read the full story here.


3️⃣

For Mental Health, Medicine Is the Best Medicine

By Jonathan Carl of The Martin Agency
May 26, 2021

Every morning, I take four pills:

  • 60mg of Cymbalta
  • Another 30mg of Cymbalta, because they don't make 90s 
  • 20mg of Concerta
  • A multivitamin

I usually slug them down with what's left of yesterday's coffee while wrestling a bib on my 18-month-old daughter, then I don't think about them again until the next morning...

Read the full story here.


2️⃣

But Are You a Mental Health Advocate, Really?

By Ryan Wagman of Honk Mobile
May 26, 2021

My friend died by suicide the other day.
What a surreal thing to type.
My friend died by suicide.

He was loved by all who knew him. And I don't mean regular love. He was adored. Revered. The rare person with the 100 percent approval rating. His loss leaves a gaping hole in so many lives. All the fishermen in all the oceans in all the world have not used the word "gutted" as often as I have seen it used over the last 72 hours to describe my friend's death...

Read the full story here.


1️⃣

6 Social-Media Lessons From Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shrimp

By Rachel Neff and Justin Buchbinder of Finn Partners
March 30, 2021

What's a marketer to do when the shrimp rodeo comes to town? If you're General Mills or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, last week was not one of your better ones. Conversely, if you're actress Danielle Fishel Karp, better known as Topanga from Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World, or her comedy writer husband Jensen Karp, it may have been a great week for you. No matter who you are, if you spend any time on social media, you likely know what we're talking about. But in case you don't...

Read the full story here.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. He is the former creative editor of Adweek.

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