Amidst all the clashing noise around this time of the year when we are often left wondering if we should highlight the good, the bad and the ugly, The Drum spoke to industry stalwarts about their favourite campaigns in 2018.
Laurence Thomson, chief creative officer, McCann London
Bravery might have become a bit of a buzzword, but it’s this very bravery that got me rooting for KFC’s “We’re Sorry” print campaign that ran in February this year.
KFC – a brand selling chicken actually ran out of the stuff (ludicrous, right?) and was forced to close up shop in certain parts of the UK. So, rather than keeping shtum and just hoping time would heal this gaping wound, KFC admitted that they f****d up. This mere acknowledgment actually gained the brand more fame than hate. And in a world that is overwrought with rather a lot of hate right now, they used humour and bravery in the form of one image to cut through all the other content out there. They got straight to the point – owning up to their mistake in a blunt piece of print advertising.
KFC was quick to be reactive – this speaks volumes about a client’s courage to take the bull by the horns and own their brand, the good, the bad and the ugly. And it also goes to show the power and disruptive impact a print ad can actually have when its coated in bravery. It’s about letting PR dictate the story for them.
Nicola Roberts, executive creative director, Bray Leino
In a global survey of 10,000, 56% of teens would rather be bullied than talk to their parents about their periods. This fact breaks my heart. And finally, there’s a campaign that wants to change that.
The Cannes Grand Prix-winning ad from Bodyform is the first ad in the UK to show real period blood. After all, leaping out of planes, roller skating in white jeans and dancing until the early hours, isn't a realistic depiction of what it’s like to have a period.
That’s what makes this campaign brilliant for me - its brutal honesty. It holds your attention. For the full 2.22 minutes. You let out a sigh of relief at the end of it - at last, someone has captured reality. And has had the confidence to build a campaign around the naked truth, not some dressed-up, contrived flight of fancy.
It makes you wonder why it was ever OK to show blue liquid being poured onto a towel. From pad-shaped lilos, a comedian telling jokes about periods to the designer undies – finally someone has found brilliant ways to normalise periods.
The director was apparently inspired by a comment on social media which said, "Can’t wait for the day when women no longer pass tampons to a friend like they are a Class A drug."
Well I think that day has arrived. It makes me live in hope that we can exist in a world where taboos no longer exist.
Matt Fitch, creative director, adamandeveddb
Just when I thought nothing in 2018 could top the Arnold Schwarzenegger PPI ads, the Weiden+Kennedy/Nike powerhouse drops this. Here is a brand at the forefront of cultural and political commentary and maybe even, in some small way, change. And all with what is, essentially, a 25x4 press ad.
Normally when a brand starts banging on about good causes I switch off. I find it cynical, tokenistic and boring. But when Nike do it, it feels inspired and inspiring. I applaud them for taking a side and using their status to make a genuine statement… whilst also selling a shitload of trainers in the process.
Maya Bogle, founder, Talenthouse
I didn't think I'd find myself saying this, but for me, it's the John Lewis ad this year. I thought this treatment truly captured not just the magic of Christmas but the essence of "what do I want to be when I grow up". I can see this at the heart of more John Lewis activity - and boy oh boy do they have so many departments and products to inspire so many dreams and careers - not just as musicians but footballers, photographers, painters, designers and so on.
I personally don't think this should be a one-off Christmas ad but rather the heart of an on-going, always-on campaign. The vignettes that could spin off from this would make it perfect for digital short-form advertising too.
This campaign was perfectly launched to coincide with Elton John’s tour tickets going on sale too. What’s not to like. It’s a winner for me.
Scott Allen, chief marketing officer, Microsoft UK
American Express: Shop Small
I am a big fan of B2B and consumer marketing coming together and working effectively. A campaign that I continue to love is Shop Small by American Express. Amex starts by focusing its marketing directly to small businesses, using the right mix of social, web and print. They focus on setting them up for success and getting them ready for the Shop Small initiative.
I like the free stickers they have created where small businesses can promote that they are part of Shop Small in-store. Also the social media banners Amex have created can be easily downloaded and used by the small businesses. Demonstrating that Amex understands the need to support these businesses in being seen and heard.
Amex then flips to consumer marketing and promotes the campaign to its card holders, using a strong mix of digital channels and direct mail. It's a brilliantly simple idea, but with lots of thought, creativity and first-class marketing execution. The interactive map they have created is easy to use and has enabled me personally to identify local shops where I can make a purchase.
Thomson, Roberts, Fitch, Bogle and Allen were all judges of The Drum Awards 2018. These awards are a singular global award scheme that recognises all the disciplines that make up The Drum’s eco-system. We have a series of competitions you may find relevant including marketing, advertising and digital. To see the full range of our competitions click here.