What does a year in creativity really look like? It’s one of those subjects that’s so big you can’t ever truly see it in its entirety. Any attempt to try and sum it up neatly is doomed to failure. Humanity is way too complicated and 2021 looked drastically different in different parts of the world.
But there are so many great creative moments from around the world and across the year. So in an attempt to spark some potentially useful thoughts, the LBB editorial team will be publishing a series of lists of stories from around the world. But rather than just telling you what we thought was great, we’re trying to be fair. So we’ll draw your attention to the stories that got the most views on LBB in 2021.
First up, here are the most-read stories from various European countries in 2021, and a little summary of why we think they’re interesting.
Creative partner at Belgian creative agency FamousGrey Peter Ampe wrote a deeply personal account on discovering your strength through embracing a perceived weakness. Provoked by an uncomfortable event, Peter reflected on his experiences as someone with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) working in advertising - and how he’s learned that with the right culture to embrace neurodiverse people, traits that have too often been portrayed as negative can be the key to unlocking creative excellence.
If you’re not familiar with Neste, they’re worth your attention. The brand has been on a fascinating journey in response to the climate crisis, shifting from regional oil refinery to becoming a global leader in renewable and circular solutions. Working with TBWA\Helsinki and director Iiro Hokkanen, the brand’s campaign this spring was made entirely out of 120 different recycled video clips edited together to create a strong visual piece, focusing on powerful moments from history, where revolutionary change took place. It demonstrated the creativity that can be achieved through digital recycling.
It’s easy to see why this interested our readers. Global tourism campaigns aren’t easy briefs. Trying to encapsulate what it is about a country that the whole rest of the world wants to experience is a tough one. But harnessing the filmmaking chops of director Hervé de Crecy, in collaboration with CGI animation studio Mikros MPC Advertising Paris, the campaign brought to life six cute, fuzzy keychain characters from around the world and sent them on adventures around Qatar. Weirdly, the keychain creatures are so universally human, nothing needs translating.
There was lots of interest in another border-spanning campaign for electrical goods brand LB. This one used the power of a well-known musical number to convey a message to audiences in the UK, Germany and France. Created by Serviceplan Hamburg and produced by Tony Petersen Film, the film features a family showcasing the surprising and positive changes that consumers can find through LG’s products, reworking Annie’s 'It’s a Hard-Knock Life' with the tagline 'It’s a Smart Good Life'.
One of the most exciting things about the rise of international streaming platforms is how filmmaking talent from anywhere in the world can find success globally. When it comes to Daniel Kontur, who’s based in Budapest, Netflix has allowed him to build a career as border-spanning as his pan-European upbringing. In an Uprising interview for LBB, he told me about how he found success on that platform and how he’s aiming to make moves into the commercial world. Judging by his amazing spec ad for Burger King, those will be moves to watch.
Boys+Girls is an independent Irish agency that’s been impressing us at LBB for years. And no more so than with the emotional, effective work the team there does with mobile network Three. Building on an impressive claim of 99% coverage in Ireland, this spot does a simple but effective job of emotional storytelling with an understated awareness of the times. We can see why it attracted so many clicks.
We all have access to timers on our various devices. Sure. But where’s the joy in that? If you want to cook your Barilla pasta to just the right consistency a timer will serve you amply. But why not make ‘Boom Bap Fusilli’ with the help from the likes of MF Doom and Nas? That’s more fun, no debate. Publicis Italy has been knocking it out the park with innovative and joyful ideas like this for some years now and we can see why our readership of creativity junkies latched onto this project of theirs in particular.
Everyone in this industry is looking for the next way to use technology in novel and interesting ways. So it’s no surprise that our readers were intrigued when Riga-based Little Good Agency worked with food delivery app Wolt to put a special 'restaurant' on the app which was in fact a way to reserve tickets for the Latvian capital’s The Zuzeum Art Centre for when it reopened after lockdown. While Covid-19 made food delivery one of the few pleasures left, it reminded people of the cultural experiences they couldn’t wait to get back to when galleries reopened.
We all know the power of a recognisable name and face and there’s no doubt that the fame factor drove some traffic to this story - Messi is some serious star power. But there’s also a number of fascinating aspects to this breakdown of a project for snack brand Lay’s by 180 Amsterdam CCO Kalle Hellzen, as he reflects on working with Synthesia and UNIT9 to use pioneering AI technology to allow you to send personalised messages to your friends from one of the greatest footballers in the world.
This year saw several of Polish advertising’s most interesting figures grace our flagship 5 Minutes with… channel, discussing the ins and outs of a creative market that the rest of the world could learn a lot from. The founder of OTO Film, Orka, and Cafe Ole on is often seen as the ‘father’ of Polish advertising, so it’s no surprise that the wisdom he shared in this interview has resonated with readers both within Poland and way beyond its borders.
Bucharest is another advertising hub that’s worth paying attention to right now. You need only look at the career trajectory of Mihai Gongu, who was born in a “rather dreary but charming place” near the Carpathian Mountains, but has built a career for himself in his native Romania as a world-leading creative leader. Having spent time getting new perspectives in Berlin and Shanghai, he’s been back in Bucharest for the past two years as Cheil Worldwide’s ECD for South-East Europe. Reflecting on his 18-year career made for a compelling chat that’s got us riveted to whatever comes out of Cheil Centrade in 2022.
We’ve seen our fair share of branded messages about how we’ve missed human connection over the past two years, but Serviceplan Russia and Miele took these messages to a new medium - baking. In response to a lockdown-driven rise in cooking at home, and in a bid to showcase the new Miele Oven FoodView function, the home appliance company invited food bloggers to turn their heartwarming messages into delicious dishes. Five bloggers with real touching stories about their loved ones came to Miele’s showroom to work with a professional chef who helped them with individual designs. Chicken, meringues, vegetables, cookies and other ingredients were used to create unique lettering. 94 hours of designers’ work and 236 hours of food tests were completed before the final dishes were ready, as original cooking techniques had to be used - some of them even had to be invented. It’s a project that’s completely unique.
The most read Serbian story on LBB this year saw Milica Minja Jovanovic, owner and producer at She Films, a service production house in Belgrade, take to our ‘The Work That Made Me’ feature series to discuss the creative projects that inspire her, the ones that taught her important lessons and the ones that she’d rather not remember. A candid insight into the mind of a creative problem solver with a passion for film craft.
This work attracted attention from readers for that feeling of ‘I wish I’d done that’ that it inspires. With outdoor advertising having been made significantly less relevant, Lynx partnered with Spanish agency LOLA MullenLowe to do some real indoor advertising, giving guys and girls the opportunity to become ‘Lynx-fluencers’, practically overnight. Anyone with an Instagram account could get involved and they would be paid accordingly. All they needed to do was order one of Lynx’s complimentary everyday items from its dedicated website, snap an image of the branded item, and upload it to their Instagram account. It was elegant, cheeky and perfect for the brand, turning the indoor spaces where people were mostly spending their pandemic lives into the advertising media that Lynx built its brand on.
Our most read Swedish story in 2021 was a piece by Goody Bag’s Tom Rickard, who sat down with a selection of creatives to figure out how and why they created work that’s not brave, but bold. In a creatively strong country, where some seriously world-beating brand advertising consistently emerges from, it was great to see that the most popular content was more of a philosophical interrogation of how great advertising gets made, suggesting that our readers don’t just want to be inspired by brilliant creativity; they want to learn how to be creatively brilliant from the best.
We can’t deny that A-listers’ names in headlines have an effect on the traffic of a given story, but there are also some interesting trends to consider now we know that the most read European story on LBB this year was about a tourism ad for Dubai. It’s notable that it’s the second European-made tourism campaign for a Middle East destination - clearly there’s been a shift going on this year. Also, it’s no surprise that the most read about British campaign (created by Mother London) is full of luxurious film craft. It’s essentially a luscious spy thriller set in the Emirate’s most stunning locations. You can just sit back and soak it up.
The most read Ukrainian story on LBB this year was one of my personal favourite kinds of story: a nuanced examination of a great piece of work that only really shines once you understand it within the cultural context it sits in. In this case, I spoke to Saatchi & Saatchi Ukraine creative director Kosta Schneider about a 2020 stunt for KyivPride that redefined the controversial symbolism of Europe’s tallest statue. Almost a year on from the stunt it was fascinating to learn how the team made it happen and what impact the event made on Ukrainian society.