Ogilvy UK chief ECD Jules Chalkley: Ads of the Year 2021

2021 is the year that proves the maxim that chaos and adversity are indeed drivers of creativity. Against the backdrop of tricky times, work is appearing from a real range of the UK’s creative shops; big, progressive, punch you in the face ideas, crafted to within an inch of their lives. And it’s not just the usual suspects but many creative shops finding their mojo. So this then, for me, feels like the UK’s resurgent year.

And whilst I’m summoning the power of optimism, I’ve selected work that over the year, has delivered the dopamine.

Ads of the year.

Megaforce set the spirit soaring in their piece for Burberry as they explore the boundary of fantasy and reality. Given the proximity we’ve all been living in this last year or so, it set my soul racing. Even in its dreamlike state, it set me free, just for a moment maybe, but I definitely felt it. And if it’s that much fun to watch, how much fun would it have been to make?

Staying with the big fashion houses, Balenciaga has delivered all sorts of crazy this year. Unpredictable, joyous, disruptive; everything they’ve touched has cut loose from the conventional. The highlight was watching the residents of Springfield slink down the runway after Homer contacted Balenciaga’s creative director for a “piece of cloth with a tag” for fashion-deprived Marge’s birthday. Talk about leveraging star power. The whole event was created by Demna Gvasalia in the hope of making people smile. What a delicious ambition.

Talking of delicious, Kem Cetinay tossing nuts into his mouth whilst Jason Watkins, one of our finest actors, dies from his own poison actually feels like it could be part of a pilot for something bigger. The seething rivalries of ITV’s Drama v Reality series play out like mini-Shakespearian tragicomedies. The contrasted writing and performance of each genre is relentlessly watchable.

Our sister agencies David and Ingo are constantly delivering excellent work for Burger King, but changing tack slightly, it’s Burger King’s rebrand earlier this year that heaped on the happy. Every element, from the rich colour palette to the type inspired by the shape of burger buns, to the uniforms – everything has a wonderful playful irreverence. Check out the rebrand introduction video.

Everything I mention looks like it was a joy to create. And that perhaps is the ultimate power of creativity, yes, even commercial creativity; when done well, it’s a moment of escape for the creators but more importantly for the audience.

Jules Chalkley is chief executive creative director of Ogilvy UK. He previously worked at BMB, Engine, RKCR/Y&R, and St Luke’s, and has created work for brands including Red Bull, BBC, Ikea, Land Rover, Rowse and the M&S Food campaigns. His work has won over 140 awards around the globe.

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