LBB’s Laura Swinton speaks to David Lubars and looks back on 2017, which was a strong year for the network
As a network, BBDO are never far from the top of the creative rankings and in that respect 2017 has been pretty much business as usual. Top in The Gunn Report for the 11th year in a row, Network of the Year at the Clios for the second year in a row, Network of the Year at Cannes Lions for an unprecedented sixth year in a row.
Reaching the top is one thing – staying there quite another. And once again the Omnicom-owned network shows no sign of budging.
This year’s awards haul was driven in part by 2016’s Meet Graham from Clemenger BBDO – the ubiquitous interactive road safety sculpture came to the end of its storming awards circuit in the summer at Cannes with a Cyber Grand Prix, and Golds in Design, Direct, PR and Promo & Activation.
But while Graham’s distinctive mug may have dominated, there were gems to be found all over the network this year.
Perhaps the most important piece of work to come out of the whole network this year is the P&G film ‘The Talk’. The film, which tackles the worries of African American parents in the age of Black Lives Matter. With eerie prescience, it dropped in July, a month before the Charlottesville riots, where ultra-right racists clashed with counterprotestors.
In a year where Pepsi co-opted the Black Lives Matter movement with their tone-deaf Kendall Jenner-fronted clanger, BBDO and P&G showed that it was possible to engage with the worries and concerns of their customers in a way that was both thoughtful and authentic.
P&G have a history of being actively front-footed with engaging in the African American community but this film took that commitment to the next level. “It’s academic: if you don’t acknowledge that difficult issues exist, things will never get better,” says BBDO Worldwide CCO David Lubars.
The agency has also taken on the issue of school shootings in its work for Sandy Hook Promise, an organisation that trains students and adults to spot the early signs that someone may resort to gun violence. Last year’s Evan shocked viewers with a tale of blossoming teen romance with a killer hidden in plain sight. And last week they returned with a chilling follow up, ‘Tomorrow’s News’, which sees witnesses to a school shooting interviewed the day before tragedy unfurls.
Across the pond, AMV BBDO celebrated a series of firsts. The ‘Blood Normal’ campaign for Libresse/Bodyform ditched the dreaded blue water beloved of feminine hygiene ads and for the first time on TV depicted realistic period blood. Meanwhile the agency also continued its work with Maltesers to champion inclusivity and better represent people with disability with their World Braille Day tactile billboards.
Down Under, Colenso BBDO took home the Spikes 2017 Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix for their 2016 DB Breweries project Brewtroleum, which turned brewing waste into fuel. Not content to let the beer brand rest on its laurels as far as its environmental credentials go, the agency was back earlier this year. They built a fleet of machines that allowed people to turn their empty beer bottles into an industrial sand substitute, in an attempt to save the world’s beaches.
Reflecting on the global spread of great creative, BBDO Worldwide CCO David Lubars says, “When we say we’re a “global boutique,” it’s the truth; there are lots of great BBDOs out there. Yes, Bangkok, is doing powerful work and so is London and Moscow and Dubai and Sao Paulo and New York and Melbourne and Auckland and…the list goes on.”
So what’s the key to BBDO’s continued creative success across the globe and such high creative ambition? For Lubars, ‘The Work, the work, the work’ is all about ‘the people, the people, the people’. “The key is finding people who were born with the inner drive to aim high. You can’t ‘get’ anyone to aim high, it comes from within.”