DentsuMB joint ECD Sue Higgs: Ads of the Year 2021

Ads of the year.

What. A. Year.

We don’t need reminding of the cacophony of Covid chaos and confusion that has prevailed, a truly an extraordinary time on Planet Earth.

But amongst all this, there have been some incredible creative diamonds that have shone in the dark.
Historically,The World Wars changed society in dramatic ways and also had profound impacts on the arts and creativity.

And the pandemic hasn’t been shy.

Some of the positives have been a truly profound.

I never thought I’d see a world where you could be encouraged to have a life outside the office, where family time is honoured and working from home is no longer considered shirking from home, where you can work anywhere in the world, rather than be nailed to your desk presenteeism style.

Flexible working isn’t just a nice to have anymore, it’s an essential.

Why did it take a pandemic to do this?

That’s a question for someone far beyond my grey matter grade.

Empathy has proven itself to be one of the most important tools in the leadership armoury, finally it’s seen as a strength not a weakness. Even though we’re not together we must stay connected, we must speak to each other in order to grow and understand. We’ve a way to go but we’re on our way.

Anyways, some of the diamonds for me.

MacMillan Nurses Whatever it takes
This is without doubt one of the most powerful pieces of work I’ve ever seen, it gets me every time, it’s also important and beautiful. I can’t watch it without my eyes leaking, everything about this piece of work is truly magnificent. MacMillan nurses are angels.

Heineken The Night is Young
Tonally very different, but nevertheless an important piece of work. A brand taking a stance on vaccination and representing the older generation as vibrant and full of life is a breath of fresh air. I like the audacity and a brand with a point of view. And of course the execution is stunning.

EA Sports Long Live the Prince
Much lauded, quite rightly, this was a standout piece also for me. I love the fact this was an idea really brought to life across channels as if Kiyan Prince was indeed the footballer he could have become. The fact they did the deal with EA and the amount of effort that will have gone in to making this so beautiful and simple, is a joy to behold.

Balenciaga Fortnite x Balenciaga
I’m not a gamer, though we have a 17-year-old one in the house who makes up for all of us. This collaboration is smart.
They are smashing it from a disruptive experiential point of view. A brand that knows its audience and where to take them will always lead.

Zara Illusion Window
Purely because I love how simple and mesmeric these are.

There was much more amazing work this year, but these are just a few that sprung to mind. I hope that creativity continues to find the light as we move into 2022. Some more levity and humour would be nice. It’s the shortest connection between people and we could do with more of that.

Sue Higgs became joint executive creative director of Dentsu Mcgarrybowen London in March 2021. She was previously group creative director at Grey London, and has also held senior roles at Havas, Publicis, Ogilvy, and M&C Saatchi.

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