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2018 Creativity Worth Celebrating: Alex’s Picks


LBB’s Europe editor Alex Reeves champions the best creative work from the countries he covers

2018 Creativity Worth Celebrating: Alex’s Picks

It’s the ad industry’s natural impulse to moan about what an awful state it’s in and how much better things were in the good old days. In some respects and in some places that may be the case, but when we take a pause to look back at the best creativity the industry had to offer around the world, that argument’s hard to make. I’ve had a great 2018 as Europe editor. I’ve seen creative work that genuinely breaks new ground, fires on all cylinders and makes sure it will endure in people’s hearts and minds. Here are a few choice cuts from the inspiring creative projects I’ve covered over the year.


VELUX - Indoor Generation

How can a brand that makes windows find a higher purpose? Before seeing this brilliant campaign for VELUX by Copenhagen creative agency &Co, you might have struggled to imagine. But now it’s clear. The campaign took scientific findings about what living indoors without enough light or fresh air does to our bodies and minds and presents those horrors through a poetic, shocking film directed by Martin de Thurah. It’s three minutes and you don’t notice because the way it’s written and constructed makes it utterly compelling.


Helsingin Sanomat - Land of the Free Press

When presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin visited Helsinki this summer, national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat wasn’t going to grovel. Instead, working with its agency TBWA\Helsinki, it made a statement in defence of journalism’s role to hold power to account. A series of copy-led billboards lined their routes from the airport to the summit they would attend and they didn’t mince they words, reminding these powerful men that the media should never be the lap dog of a political figure or regime.


Winamax - Bet on a Murderer

With the rise of Nordic Noir and the renaissance that TV drama is having globally thanks to the streaming revolution, not to mention the sea of true crime podcasts being piped out, murder mysteries are a great playground for creativity. That’s what Publicis Conseil realised this year, motivating them to create an interactive broadcast for TV series La Forêt, in which murder suspects appeared on screen with their live betting odds, provided by their client Winamax. In a category that’s often sports-centric, and reliant on traditional TVCs, it was a refreshing approach that blurred the line between advertising and entertainment brilliantly.


Stabilo - Highlight the Remarkable

This was one of those campaigns where every aspect worked in harmony. The great moments in history have often been born from the actions of great women, but history has had a habit of forgetting them in favour of men. What better brand than Stabilo to highlight these remarkable women? And what better way to do it than these perfectly executed print ads, simply taking historic photographs and using the highlighter pen exactly how it is used? It’s elegant, moving and extremely satisfying.


The Times - JFK Unsilenced

Irish agency Rothco brought home the country’s first ever Cannes Lions Grand Prix with this campaign. And what a campaign to do it with. A masterclass in uniting technology with creativity, JFK Unsilenced used AI to allow US President John F. Kennedy to make the speech he’d intended to make on the day of his murder, creating an editorial feature for newspaper The Times that reminded the world of one of the greatest orators of all time, whose words are as relevant to our time as they would have been in 1963.


DIESEL - Hate Couture 

Publicis Italy has been putting Milan on the advertising map this year with its invigorating work for DIESEL. The biggest and brashest of the brands communications is Hate Couture - a campaign infused with punk spirit, in which style icons like Nicki Minaj and Gucci Mane took the hateful language that the internet vomits up at them every day and made it their own. It perfectly encapsulated DIESEL’s attitude and how it exhibits itself in 2018, using celebrities and ‘social influencers’ exactly how brands should be in today’s world.

The Netherlands

Nike - Awaken the Phantom

With Awaken the Phantom, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam added to the canon of big, brash, high-craft Nike football ads. In the same tradition as 2010’s Write the Future, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, this film takes big-screen director Matthew Vaughn, some of the world’s top football stars including Coutinho, Pugh and De Bruyne, and weaves an epic story around them that justifies a cinematic extravaganza to leave you in shock and awe.


ICRC - Hope

Whenever I watch this film, it knocks the wind out of me and it takes me a while to come back to my comfortable everyday existence. Written by Madrid-based agency Sra. Rushmore and directed by James Rouse through Blur Films, Hope is about as visceral a piece of storytelling as you’ll find in advertising. With a relatively modest budget, the team behind it were able to make a charity film for the International Committee of the Red Cross that captured the tragedy of life in conflict zones in a way that punches through our compassion fatigue and demands we connect with the lives that the ICRC is trying to help.


Philips - The Unshaved Truth

Isobar Nordics chose a different strategic route to the usual in this campaign for the Philips OneBlade beard trimmer. Rather than make an ad full of old-fashioned machismo they created a quiet, contemplative, disarmingly human film presenting two friends discussing their thoughts on facial hair and gender norms. It’s a representation of masculinity that resonates with the young men of 2018, not the outdated picture of manliness that the category has propped up for decades.


Nike - Nothing Beats a Londoner

Nothing Beats a Londoner just got everything right. From Wieden+Kennedy’s script, packed with understanding for what makes the city so special, to the impeccable casting, showing off the passion and character of London’s young athletes, right through to Megaforce’s oddball directing approach and some inspired VFX work from Time Based Arts, it sings on every level. Faced with a sentiment that felt the brand had lost touch with London’s youth, this film reminded Londoners exactly why we’re so proud of our city by showing, not telling. It will live on as a moment in culture, which is why it was only one of four campaigns to be crowned Immortal in LBB’s inaugural Immortal Awards this year.


It’s one thing putting together an expertly strategised and crafted piece of creative work as part of a planned brand campaign. It takes a totally different kind of confidence and ingenuity to react to events that are eroding your brand. When KFC ran out of chicken in restaurants across the UK, customers were rightfully outraged. Selling chicken is kind of KFC’s raison d’etre, so it was a pretty serious issue. Mother London’s full-page ad in the Metro newspaper rose to meet the challenge though, finding the perfect tone of cheeky contrition and the perfect creative solution - rearranging the letters of the acronym. Fcking smart.

Libresse - Viva La Vulva

When I interviewed AMV BBDO joint chief strategy officer Bridget Angear in the summer, she told me that the agency would continue smashing taboos around women’s bodies. But the agency’s next campaign for Libresse - Viva La Vulva - was way more full-on than I’d imagined. Presenting a relentless series of visual metaphors for the vulva, lip-syncing to Take Yo’ Praise by Camille Yarbrough. The film responds to the insecurity many women feel about their vulvas – 44% of women surveyed have felt embarrassed by the way their vulvas look or feel or smell and a quarter do not know that each vulva looks unique – and with Kim Gehrig’s direction setting the tone, it does so with utter joy.

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LBB Editorial, Wed, 19 Dec 2018 15:59:45 GMT