The Top 10 Muse Stories of 2020

See our most-read stories from the year

We're about to slide off the dinosaur for the holidays, but before we go, here's our annual roundup of the most-read Muse stories of the year. No surprise that lots of Covid-themed content made the list, along with several pieces dedicated to women's issues. And as you'll see, we owe Nike a hat-tip for work that brought in more than a few readers. Also, check out the Top 10 Muse Essays of 2020 as well.


Heinz Ketchup Made a 570-Piece, All-Red Puzzle for You to Solve, Slowly

By Tim Nudd
May 5, 2020

Puzzles enjoyed quite a moment during Covid, as people searched for at-home diversions to pass the time. Heinz's 570-piece puzzle, dreamed up by agency Rethink, was particularly useful (and/or infuriating). You could spend weeks working on it, as the image was just one big block of red.

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Nike's New Ad Tells Those Who Would Ignore Racism: 'Don't Do It'

By Tim Nudd
May 29, 2020

The first of four Nike stories in the top 10, this one was released on May 29, just four days after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Made by Wieden + Kennedy, the 60-second spot pointedly addressed those who would ignore racism by flipping the brand's longtime tagline on its head.

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Nike, LeBron Predict the Ultimate Comeback in Thrilling New Covid Ad

By Tim Nudd
May 23, 2020

Narrated by LeBron James, this W+K spot opens on pro athletes at their low points, in competitive dire straits—down in the game, down in the series, facing elimination and the loss of the dream. The implied comparison, of course, was to the challenge all of humanity faced during Covid. But while down, the athletes are certainly not out.

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'Play Inside, Play for the World.' Nike Ads Address Coronavirus Crisis

By David Gianatasio
March 21, 2020

Early on in the Covid crisis, Nike weighed in with inspirational ads reminding people to enhance community safety through social distancing. Adorned by Nike's iconic swoosh, the ads read, "If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world." 

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Cynthia Nixon Unpacks the Many Nuances of Being a Lady

By Angela Natividad
Feb. 25, 2020

"Be a lady, they said." With these words, Cynthia Nixon begins an intense study of everything that phrase could hide at any given time. Created for Girls Girls Girls Magazine, the narration is a truncated version of a longer work by Camille Rainville. But it's a piece that translates easily to video, with brutal visual juxtapositions from pop culture and beyond filling in for lines that didn't make the cut.

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Lily Returns for AT&T, as Milana Vayntrub Shoots New Ads at Home

By David Gianatasio
May 11, 2020

Everyone loves Lily, the AT&T spokescharacter portrayed by Milana Vayntrub. And so, when she returned to the brand's advertising in May after a three-year absence, viewers were pretty thrilled. And what's more, Milana also directed the first spots from her own home.

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Hershey Made 'Her' and 'She' Bars Honoring Great Women

By Tim Nudd
March 5, 2020

When you have "her" and "she" in your brand name, you have a head start on the making of an International Women's Day campaign. Hershey's in Brazil, working with BETC São Paulo, used its packaging to celebrate great women musicians, illustrators and other artists.

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The New 'Jake From State Farm' Has a Bigger Role, Including Soothing Spurned Bachelors

By David Gianatasio
Feb. 14, 2020

If there's one spokescharacter who could eclipse Lily from AT&T, it's Jake from State Farm. Jake, played by Kevin Mimms, was everywhere this year, and our Valentine's Day story about him got plenty of love from readers.

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This Agency's End-of-2020 PSA Wins Prize for Most F-Bombs Ever

By David Gianatasio
Dec. 18, 2020

A late entrant to the list—this story was published less than a week ago—Toronto agency Public's profanity-fueled kiss-off to 2020 quickly went viral, as people everywhere could relate. The 90-second spot was cathartic, and also drove donations to the Mental Health Coalition and the Black Health Alliance.

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Nike's New Ad Is an Editing Marvel, and Maybe the Best Covid Spot Yet

By Tim Nudd
July 30, 2020

In the end, it wasn't even close. Nike's "You Can't Stop Us" commercial from Wieden + Kennedy Portland earned far and away the biggest readership of any story we published this year. And no wonder: The W+K spot—made with Pulse Films director Oscar Hudson, Joint editors Peter Wiedensmith and Jessica Baclesse, and the visual effects team at A52—was an astonishing piece of craft. Adweek named it the best ad of the year, and we're pleased it made the top of this list, too.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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