Ads of the Year
Andy Lockley – Havas London, Creative Partner
My pick: Drama vs Reality – ITV
I’m a huge admirer of the work Uncommon does with ITV. A media brand is a real test of the creative swag of an agency, and I love how Uncommon have been smart enough to step aside and simply allow the brand to take the floor. The ‘Reality vs Drama’ campaign was my favourite. The sheer arrogance of pitting the brand against itself. Taking the two tenets of popular entertainment and letting them go at each other like dock workers at closing time. It’s like ITV is peerless, and its only rival is its own content – it doesn’t even entertain the possibility that there are other forms of entertainment beyond the channel.
It reminds me of something St Lukes tried many years ago for the Observer, whereby the different sections of the weekend supplements were at war with one another – but the execution of the ITV stuff takes it to another level. Not only the film craft (the writing and direction was flawless), but the way the agency created an entirely bespoke creative expression of the idea on digital surfaces. The reimagination of Street Fighter, featuring actors and reality TV stars (at least I assume that’s who they are), was beautifully done. The detail of the craft and the storytelling within what was also a playable game is incredible. Either the film or the digital executions would have been outstanding independently, but together they constitute the most complete campaign of the year as far as I’m concerned. ITV must be genuinely thrilled with the work.
Jon Austin – Host/Havas Australia, Executive Creative Director
My pick: The Lost Class – Change The Ref
There are the traditional metrics by which we usually measure creative work.
And then there’s the less tangible, but often-more-impressive “how the hell did they pull that off” meter.
And on that metric alone, this one was off the charts for me.
The Lost Class tackles an unfortunately familiar territory for US PSAs – gun violence in schools. But that’s where the familiarity ends.
In this project, we’re hit with an awful stat – that 3,0444 students were killed by guns in 2021. Rather than dramatise the violence, gun safety organisation ‘Change the Ref’ and Leo Burnett Chicago turned that stat into a graduating class.
A class that, like so many others, this year, couldn’t physically attend their own graduation (although this class had a far darker reason for not being there).
So far, so good. But then they did something that sent them skyrocketing off the charts on that “how the hell”-o-meter.
They got David Keene, former president and current board member of the NRA, and John Lott, American economist, political commentator and gun rights advocate – people who actively blocked common sense reform – to deliver the key speeches to the lost class.
What a haunting sight – key adversaries delivering impassioned speeches to row after row of empty seats; trying to inspire a horrific graduating class that their actions had helped create.
There was no camera trickery here. No add ons to distract.
Just the sheer magnitude of the stat, and the sheer audaciousness of what the agency and their client had done.
What I find most compelling about The Lost Class is the fact that, had these guys bothered to do the most basic of background checks – the very thing Change the Ref was seeking – they would have realised the ruse.
It’s a tragic, awful, fitting irony. And it makes this project an absolute standout for me.
Nicolas Lautier – BETC Paris, Creative Director
My pick: Shutter Ads – Heineken
2021 is a year marked by COVID. Many brands felt the need to communicate during this period, but they were not really legitimate to speak on this topic.
All the ad agencies around the world received at least one brief about this type of communication. Us, creatives, we all had the same starting point here.
What I really like in this project is the simplicity of the idea, and the relevance and legitimacy for Heineken to produce it.
Add to it the global scale of the project, that mimics the worldwide spread and impact of COVID, and there is everything in this campaign.
It is a really intelligent media idea, hyper contextualised, that brings everybody on board and is a real solution in an unprecedented circumstance.
And more than a simple creative idea, it is a creative solution. Maybe, that’s what this COVID year will have taught us. In a context of crisis, communications from brands should bring us solutions, otherwise they might be perceived as illegitimate and opportunistic.