Campaign BIG awards 2017

Last night (Wed 29 Nov 2017) was the Campaign BIG awards and I thought a few of my favourites from the awards shortlist were worth a share to some of my less advertising-focussed friends.

All the text of the descriptions here are taken from the agencies’ summaries on the Campaign BIG awards’ website; my additional commentary is clearly marked as such.

We’re the Superhumans — winner: Sport, travel & leisure; winner: Film best of the best

Channel 4 / 4Creative

We’re the Superhumans”, Rio Paralympics 2016 Trailer from Channel 4’s YouTube channel

We came across a shocking statistic — 67% of people in the UK felt uncomfortable talking to a disabled person. We wanted to address this.

So as well as celebrating a huge sporting event, we used it as an opportunity to start conversations to fundamentally change public attitudes towards disability. We would do this by celebrating ability in its widest sense — from winning a gold medal, through to something as every day and taken for granted as brushing one’s teeth.

The 3 minute film featuring a cast of more than 140 disabled people doing everything from everyday activities through to winning high jump gold. The cast included Paralympic athletes, members of the public and our very own superhuman band made up entirely of disabled musicians from across the world. The Band performs the Sammy Davis Jnr track ‘Yes I can.’

My comments: Totally well-deserving of its position as one of the seven “best of the best” winners; it’s probably my favourite campaign of the last 18 months.

This Girl Can: Phenomenal Women — runner-up: Public service

Sport England / FCB Inferno

This Girl Can: Phenomenal Women”, from the This Girl Can YouTube channel

Two years after This Girl Can launched, 2.1m women were exercising more as a result of the campaign. We had successfully encouraged hundreds of thousands of them to turn exercise into a regular habit. The gender gap between the number of men and women who were regularly active had reduced from 1.79m to 1.55m. But, our work was not done.

With the gap smaller but persistent, we prepared to strike again. This time, Sport England challenged us to empower a wider range of women, experiencing a broader range of life-stages (e.g. pregnancy, after childbirth), showcasing even more activities.

From sticking two fingers up at judgement in the first phase of the campaign, this time our message was one of full-throttle female empowerment. An all-out celebration of women who have overcome their judgement barrier and are doing their thing, in their own way, with an infectious ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude.

My comment: I really love the “This Girl Can” campaign, with its non-judgemental depictions of all kinds of women, of different races, classes, shapes and sizes. Fuck other people’s opinions; be who you want to be.

Note: This was also a runner-up in the Integrated “best of the best” category.

We are Family — runner-up: Grocery & soft drinks

McCain / adam&eveDDB

McCain “We Are Family” 2017, from McCain UK’s YouTube channel

In this campaign McCain celebrates really, real families. Not the chocolate box style families that rarely exist, but are still upheld as the expected ‘norm’ in the media. No, this campaign is about celebrating modern families in all their gloriously imperfect forms. From the defiant, kick ass single Mums, to the two Daddies or long distance Daddies, or Grandparents who double as parents, or friends who feel like a family — our message is simple, families come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s mealtimes that makes a family.

My commentary: I really liked the diversity shown here, with lots of depictions of non-“standard” families, beyond even just the relatively-obvious LGBT+ families. As a queer man, it was genuinely moving to see this; we’ve come a long way since I was a kid.

Ash to Art — winner: Charity sector

Glasgow School of Art / J. Walter Thompson London

In May 2014, The Glasgow School of Art was devastated by fire. It was one of the UK’s most iconic buildings and home to its most successful art school.

The building itself was a work of art. Tragically, the fire destroyed the Mackintosh Library, one of the world’s most famous Art Nouveau interiors and the masterpiece of visionary Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The Glasgow School of Art is an internationally renowned institution and has produced more winners of the Turner Prize (the UK’s most prestigious contemporary art prize) than any other school.

After the fire, the School received limited financial help from the UK government and needed a transformational idea to raise funds and publicity for the rebuild.

Note: This was also a runner-up in the Experiential “best of the best” category.

Tradesman’s suncream — winner: Health & beauty

Wickes / Iris

In the UK, a tradesman dies every fortnight from skin cancer. Over 85% of cases are preventable, yet research shows many tradesmen don’t use suncream, seeing it as weak or unmanly.

So this summer Wickes moved from home improvement to health improvement, swapping the language of a beauty brand for the language of a tradesman.

Introducing Tradesman’s Suncream — a fun, no-nonsense way to make suncream relevant to the trade. Available in Brickie’s Bronze, Plasterer’s Pink and Apprentice White, the range came in miniature paint pots packaged to withstand the rough and tumble of a building site, and was given away free nationwide.

We achieved huge organic cut through, with over 8 million impressions in just a few days. Every single pot flew off the shelves, but best of all we changed attitudes to sun safety among the UK’s most at-risk workers — going a long way to saving lives.

My comments: This is an advert made by colleagues of mine in my day-job, though I didn’t have anything to do with it myself (I’m just digital, innit). I particularly like that a piece of work with Wickes managed to win in the Health and beauty category 😊

The breath test — winner: Out-of-home best of the best

Cancer Research UK / AMV BBDO

Cancer Research UK: “Breath Test” from Clear Channel UK’s YouTube channel

Cancer Research UK created an interactive poster that demonstrated how smoking affects your breathing.

A headline on the poster asked passers by to take a deep breath and blow into a microphone that was attached to it. As they blew into it a message started to digitally appear on the screen. And the longer they could blow the more of it they could read.

This demonstrated in a simple way how smoking damages your lungs and makes breathing more difficult.

At the end of the test a line appeared which read, ‘Help from a Stop Smoking adviser gives you the best chance of quitting for good, visit’

Note: This was also a runner-up in the Radio/Audio “best of the best” category.

This is belonging — winner: Public service

British Army / Karmarama

This Is Belonging — Jungle tea” 30-sec spot, from the Army Jobs YouTube channel

Applying to join the British Army is a life-changing decision. Using guns and tanks to sell The Army was no longer working. We needed a powerful benefit that only The Army could offer.

This is Belonging offers a window into a side of The Army never seen before: the emotional, human side of the bonds that help you face challenges and grow. Featuring real soldiers to ensure authenticity, each execution offers potential recruits something no other career can — the chance to Find Where You Belong.

My comments: While I married into a military family, I’m not the biggest fan of armies, let alone our own with its imperial heritage. But this is genuinely a nice advert, showing the sense of camaraderie and team that the army can offer. Sure, I’d rather there were more options available to young working class lads and lasses and that we didn’t recruit child soldiers, but as an advert this is a great piece of creative.

Note: This was also a runner-up in the Experiential “best of the best” category.

Pride camo cream — runner-up: Experiential best of best

British Army / Karmarama

For 364 days of the year, soldiers in the British Army are experts in blending in — using camouflage cream to make sure they stay hidden away.

But there’s one day of the year that should be all about standing out.


As a Stonewall top employer, the British Army wanted to make sure this year, everyone could stand out.

So we created Pride Camo. A rainbow camouflage cream. And handed it out to thousands at the Pride march. To support all the LGBT+ soldiers in the army today, and welcome those in the years to come.

The work was selected as Ad Of The Day in the trade press and featured in numerous LGBT+ publications, with a total online reach of 3.6M.

Buster the Boxer — winner: Retail & restaurants

John Lewis / adam&eveDDB

#BusterTheBoxer”, from John Lewis’s YouTube channel

This year’s film captures the joy of a gift that everyone loves, told through the story of Buster the Boxer and his family at Christmas. The spot is directed by Dougal Wilson and set to a Vaults cover of Randy Crawford’s ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’. #BusterTheBoxer

My comments: Yes, the big Christmas adverts are trite and sentimental, but this was the most widely-shared ad of 2016, despite only launching in November. And it is cute.

Note: This was also a runner-up in both the Film and Integrated “best of the best” categories.

Food Dancing — runner-up: Retail & restaurants

Sainsbury’s / Wieden + Kennedy

Food Dancing (Yum Yum Yum)”, from Sainsbury’s YouTube channel

Food Dancing shines a light on a secret but ubiquitous kitchen behaviour that totally sums up the simple joy that can come with food. That personal moment when you’re in the kitchen, you’re totally in the rhythm of cooking, and you’re dancing to your favourite tune. Our ambition was to make ‘living well’ mean something but this wasn’t about telling people what to eat or how to live, like the rest of the category was doing. People already know how to live well, so we decided to celebrate that. Real people, living well, in homes across the country.

My comments: No, I’ve never heard of “food dancing” either, but it’s an entertaining advert that made me smile. And I really like the spot-colour treatment W+K have used for their Sainsbury’s campaigns; the “What’s for dinner” spot really made me smile as well. W+K have been doing a great job showing Sainsbury’s why they were right to move the account after their 35-year relationship with AMV BBDO.

#myneolabel — runner-up: Digital best of the best

adidas / Iris

adidas neo fans are mobile-first and demand a voice. So when briefed to create an innovative global activation, we launched #myneolabel on Snapchat.

The obvious brand approach on Snapchat is through paid ad formats such as lenses or filters, but we didn’t want an off the shelf, temporary presence… so instead we decided to create our own…

#MYNEOLABEL the first fashion collection designed by fans, on Snapchat. Using Snapchat’s native doodle tool, budding designers were invited to create, edit and win the chance to wear their own designs.

Entries flooded in and winners were flown to adidas HQ to have their designs turned into real items as part of the adidas neo collection. We hacked the world’s fastest growing, most impenetrable platform to create a first of its kind fashion line — turning our audience from consumers to collaborators.

My comments: Another campaign by my colleagues; I really enjoyed this one and was pleased to see it recognised with 2 Cannes Lions — bronzes for Design: Social engagement and Mobile: Content for user engagement. Another adidas campaign of ours driven by consumer participation, adidas Glitch, won a silver and 4 bronze Lions. Edited to add: And within hours of me publishing this article, this campaign won Iris and team adidas win our first Eurobest Gold in Mobile!

Images and video are used without permission for the purpose of criticism and review under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Most of the text is copyright © 2017 Haymarket Events; the text of my comments is dedicated to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero licence. Please feel free to translate, copy, excerpt, share, disseminate and otherwise spread it far and wide. You don’t need to ask me, you don’t need to tell me. Just do it!

 by the author.



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Owen Blacker

Owen Blacker


🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿♿⧖ Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior+trans ally. @WikiLGBT, @OpenRightsGroup, ex- @mySociety. he/him