2010 had it all – rapping dairy farmers, Hollywood ice cream heists and Lionel Richie being thrown through a shop window. Charlie Wright looks back at the year in television adverts

Soft drinks

Irn-Bru gets animated about butchery
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre began as a high-spirited road-trip and Irn-Bru's jaunty rural walk in the countryside at first offered no hint of the bloodshed to come.

A good-natured gent is joined on his stroll by a cutesy menagerie of animated animals, as if St Francis of Assisi had blundered onto the set of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But the brand showed its wicked side when the man is revealed as the local butcher a discovery his travelling zoo makes only when the lights go out and the padlock goes on.

Alcoholic drinks
Heineken comes out of the closet
Heineken refreshed its UK advertising with a spot that first appeared on the Continent a couple of years ago. A party host showing pals her walk-in closet is interrupted by her partner's male friends squealing about the walk-in beer fridge downstairs. This riff on the tropes of gender politics was perfectly executed and instantly memorable.

Cow & Gate are game for a laugh
Apparently some babies occasionally stop screaming and vomiting for just about long enough to laugh. We can only guess how many takes it took to generate enough footage for Cow & Gate's montage of chuckling youngsters to promote its Complete Care follow-on milk. But the end product was worth it a captivating, heart-warming effort that showed "healthy babies are happy babies".

Bagged snacks
Walkers' embarrassment of Richie is extra cheesy
Walkers upped the celebrity wattage for Extra Crunchy by pairing Gary Lineker with another icon of cheese who hasn't done anything useful since 1990. Lionel Richie left his dignity at the door to re-purpose his 1985 hit Say You, Say Me into a tune about crisps but then brought it right back with a masterful comic turn that culminated in getting thrown through a plate glass window, something that never gets old.

Rice Krispies Squares are destined for greatness
"A delicious destiny" awaited CGI rice grain Joe, who quit his job as a shelf-stacker at Krispie-Mart to dive headlong into an Amazonian adventure. The climax of his tropical quest was a vast caramel cascade rising from the foliage like the fabled Cities of Gold, where Joe joined thousands of like-minded grains in the ultimate biscuity love-in. A tale that was part Indiana Jones, part self-help motivational video, this was silly and spectacular in equal measure.

Bakers mourn the casualties of Warburtons
The bakery has been behind some of the best ads of the past couple of years and it did it again this year. The latest showed staff mourning the loss of a burned loaf, set to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. The slogan 'We care because our name's on it' evidently applies as much to the advertising as it does to the bread.

Mrs Kipling gets her oats
We saw who really wears the trousers in the Kipling household when the cake-maker's wife bagged her on-screen debut in a campaign for Oatibakes. She was behind the sponge recipe that Mr Kipling gets to work on just as soon as she realises they're not getting enough oats. Still, maybe we get too much information, Mrs Kipling hinting her husband is far from "exceedingly good" in bed.

Green Giant says you are what you eat
Surely nothing would convert people to a healthy diet better than the suggestion that eating French fries could actually turn you French. But kids tend to believe the maxim that you are what you eat, so this year's ad for Green Giant sweetcorn suggested its youthful protagonists had some strange aspirations. Still, the occasional fib about the transformative properties of vegetables can't hurt.

Roll up for Coco Pops
The first-ever ad for new Coco Pops Choc 'n' Roll took kids on a high-octane rollercoaster around their cereal bowl. Set to the 1980s pop stylings of You Spin Me Round by Dead Or Alive, Coco the Monkey piloted a racing car with Choc 'n' Roll wheels on a 3D track with death-defying jumps and 360-degree loops. Meanwhile, the voiceover emphasised the cereal brand's wholegrain and fibre content. On a congested starting grid for cereal brands, this formula won pole position.

Confectionery: chocolate
Cadbury Dairy Milk starts Spots v Stripes stand-off
Not mentioning either the Olympics or chocolate might seem a risky strategy for a confectioner sponsoring the Olympics. But the Spots v Stripes race was an eye-popping tour de force whose spectacle matched the ambition of a broader campaign to get the entire nation squaring off in sporting combat. The push belied suggestions Cadbury's marketing team has suffered from the post-Kraft brain drain.

Confectionery: sugar
Extra-cute extras are hard act to follow
If you're being pursued by a foul and persistent odour there's a fair chance you're the one causing it. Wrigley's Extra took on the horror of post-snacking halitosis with 'Banish Smelly Followers', a rather poignant campaign featuring some strangely lovable CGI critters. So cute were the animated onions, doughnuts and cups of coffee loyally bouncing along behind a typical urban twentysomething, it almost seemed a shame he'd rather get fresh with his cute, but very human, real-life date.

Dairy: drinks
Yo! Valley has it all rapped up
Yeo Valley's rapping farmers debuted during The X Factor in an ad that arguably showed more creativity than anything Simon Cowell's jamboree has ever produced. The ad, complete with break-dancing tractors and body-popping wildlife, became an online smash and is now available on iTunes, even if it made genuine hip-hop heads yearn for the days of Vanilla Ice. It also showed the organic sector doesn't take itself too seriously. Lucky they shelved that Yodel Valley idea.

Dairy: butter and spreads
Anchor cows handle production on the hoof
Kids today might take more of an interest in farming if they thought it involved animals operating heavy machinery. Moments such as the vending machine dispensing slices of delicious turf showed the attention to detail in Anchor's 'Made by cows' campaign, which depicted a factory staffed by bovine workers. Setting the spot to a countrified version of Guns 'N' Roses' Paradise City added to the fun.

Dairy: cheese
Cheestrings has ways of making you talk
Whether a biting satire of the war on terror or just a very silly idea, the Cheestrings airport security ad was memorable. Voiced by the League of Gentlemen's Steve Pemberton, the spot had Mr Cheestring facing a grilling for attempting to take liquid onto a plane. He was able to explain that he can't help the glass of milk in every Cheestring sparing a cavity search that would have wiped the smile from the face of dairy's most irrepressible character.

Dairy: yoghurts and desserts
Mary, Müller's cow that thinks she's a horse, took to the beach
Both deeply silly and strangely affecting, Müller's power-ballad soundtrack was given emotional oomph by sincere vocal work from John Hurt. Getting the actor who played the Elephant Man to do an ad about body dysmorphia spoke of a brand with class up the wazoo.

Frozen foods
Birds Eye gets bipolar bear syndrome
To a CV that already included roles as Jesus and the Green Goblin, Hollywood big-hitter Willem Dafoe added a new character: a sinister polar bear lurking in British freezers. His vocals in ads starring the unsettling bear elevated Birds Eye's 2010 campaign from bizarre to brilliant. Even though the bear had our best interests at heart, warnings about fish fingers have never sounded so menacing.

Hot beverages
Twinings' home brew is where the art is
The Tata-owned brand again showed its creative flair as it urged thirsty punters to "discover the art of tea". Continuing a campaign that began last year, 2010's iteration showed an attic-dwelling artiste painstakingly laying out cups of Infusions of all colours to form a delicate waterfall mosaic. Subtle yet colourful, ambitious but soothing, the chilled-out vibe was perfect for Twinings.

Household goods
Cif is a force-field to reckon with
Laminating your kitchen to keep it clean may not be a realistic option but then most of us don't clean while wearing a cocktail dress, as the woman in the Cif Power Cream ad does. Depicting the product's 'Active Shield' concept as an invisible layer that could be peeled away meant a straightforward concept was executed in a visually arresting way. As for the glamorous hostessat least she took the stilettos off first.

You can't spell nutrition without 'nut'
Only Mormons tend to experience waking up with 12 different people at once. But thanks to Nutella's 'Wake up to Energy' ad, which touted the hazelnut spread's nutritional credentials, we all could. Via a split-screen technique, we followed a clutch of families kickstarting their day with lavish helpings of Nutella.

Daz keeps its nose clean
It seems like Daz has been peddling its Cleaner Close soap opera for as long as Corrie has been on TV. It's only been eight years, but the campaign hit new heights in 2010 by adding talent like Paul Danan and the bloke who played Dr Legg in EastEnders. A mischievous reference to Daz being a 'nose pleaser' made it the year's second most fashionable white powder after mephedrone.

Time to free the CalCold Six
CalCold SixPlus may sound like something from a 1970s miscarriage of justice, but its most explosive incident this year was its excellent ad. It showed a host of youngsters getting up to the usual misdemeanours abusing strangers on buses, daubing on mum's make-up, chasing each other with worms having shaken off their aches and ailments thanks to CalCold SixPlus.

Paper products
Juan Sheet is Plenty enough, thanks
With the strum of a Spanish guitar, fmcg advertising found its answer to aggravating insurance-selling characters like the Go Compare opera singer and Michael Winner. Plenty's cape-wearing Zorro-lite Juan Sheet burst into the national consciousness with a deeply silly performance as he saved 'the Juice Lady' from a tragic citrus spillage. It could have been simply infuriating, but a performance of such laughable conviction, reminiscent of Nicolas Cage at his goggle-eyed best, elevated Juan Sheet to performance art.

Personal care
Old Spice smells like male spirit
Old Spice instantly shed its rep for George Lazenby naffness with a hilarious series of ads urging men to ditch the lavender body-rinse and 'Smell Like A Man, Man'. Pairing razor-sharp scripting with a dazzling sequence of visual non-sequiturs, the most red-blooded of alpha males showed women what they were missing and men what they were lacking. Ironic it may have been. But what man wouldn't want to be sat in a hot tub while riding a motorcycle?

Ice cream
Magnum strikes Gold with del Toro's big score
Having helmed movies about X-men and Supermen, silver screen auteur Bryan Singer is no stranger to heavy-hitting stars in big-budget actioners. He was on directing duties as Magnum traded up from usual suspect Eva Longoria to suave super-criminal Benicio del Toro in an ice cream heist pastiche with sky-high production values. Featuring nods to the likes of Ocean's Eleven and Mr & Mrs Smith, there was plenty to keep movie buffs amused as well as more wit and panache than your average Hollywood blockbuster.

Go-Cat goes for a walk in the parkour
Remember the craze for parkour, the cool pastime that involved jumping off bollards, wearing baggy jeans and spraining your ankle? Go-Cat showed similarily energetic moggies executing gravity-defying acts of fence-jumping regardless of the fact that even the laziest tabby can pull off feats of athleticism Olympic gymnasts can only dream of.

Pot Noodle GTi is fast, furious and farcical
Having added real meat to its recipes for the first time ever, Pot Noodle beefed up its advertising even more impressively. GTi pitted the pasty-faced protagonists of recent ads against two overgrown boy-racers in an absurd street-race featuring more sight-gags per second than an Escort XR3i does revs. The ad gave Pot Noodle more grunt than ever.

Sauces: condiments
Very Lazy gets its champion chopper out
Even in our PC society, for some reason it's still OK to laugh at eastern Europeans. Very Lazy's high-achieving ad told the story of Lazlo Vaslavsky, the world's fastest chopper of wood, vegetables and anything else - although not, he ruefully admitted, Very Lazy's ­pre-cut garlic.

Sauces: cooking
Ramsay has a supermarket nightmare
Britain's sweariest chef kept his potty-mouthed tendencies under wraps for Comic Relief as an animated Gordon Ramsay did his best to big up Seriously Good Sauces without using any four-letter words. As the talking label on a jar of his sauce, Ramsay was stacked on a shelf, licked by a dog and buried beneath uncooked poultry. It couldn't have been for a better cause - or happened to a nicer guy.

Savoury pastries
Ginsters' yokels fired up by the Wicker Man
Perhaps Ginsters meant to evoke Amish barn-builders with its sun-drenched pastoral that saw simple rural folk team up to erect a giant scarecrow. But the vibe soon turned more sinister and the finished figure loomed over the scattering peasants like a malevolent deity. The only thing lacking was a terrified Edward Woodward being dragged to his doom inside the giant wicker man.

Heinz Soup blows us away
'You know how to eat soup, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow.' Short of hiring Lauren Bacall to deliver that line, it's hard to see how Heinz could have done better, as a host of broth fans knocked out Love Me Tender by blowing a note each to cool their steaming spoonfuls. Playful yet wholesome, this ad had to be Heinz.