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Creative Director’s Choice: Sanjiv Mistry of McCann London on the British Library’s boasting billboard


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

November 29, 2019 | 3 min read

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the best work around and spotlight campaigns that are making a difference.

British Library

British Library billboard

This week, Sanjiv Mistry, executive creative director at McCann London, talks up the ‘simply brilliant’ billboard campaign from the British Library.

Sanjiv Mistry

It seems that everywhere you look, specialists have given way to slash-alists.

Model/actor/influencer. Writer/speaker/MC. Even our own industry overflows with copywriter/art director/photographer, renaissance men/women.

That’s not a job title. It’s an accumulation of in-capabilities.

Toothpaste is not content with being toothpaste. It must contain enamel whiteners and gum fortifiers and breath freshening confetti.

Cricket matches have crept their way to become bouncy castle bonanzas for families, with a pop concert here, a food festival there, all cheer-led, and Instagram-followed.

The desire to be all things to all people has dictated that even great institutions like libraries and museums cannot simply be libraries and museums anymore. There must be ‘value-add-ons’. When getting people to visit the gift shop to buy a £12.99 framed print of an Orwell cover is given as much importance as getting people to read Orwell, we have reached peak identity crisis.

Enter this simply brilliant, and brilliantly simple, billboard for the British Library – ostensibly a list of the library’s features in which all the features are equal. But some are more equal than others. Its surgically steely third line lances the boil of backroom bean counters demanding expansion. Pressure is relieved. Perspective prevails.

It reads as a copywriter following the letter of the brief (likely “tell passers-by that we’re so much more than a library”) but doing so through firmly clenched teeth. As a passive-aggressively crafted two-finger salute to the modern single-minded obsession with no longer being single-minded.

And to achieve all that by taking pictures out of the picture, using just words, makes it not just an apt ad for a library, but about as perfect a poster as I’ve ever seen.

Sanjiv Mistry is executive creative director at McCann London.

See the work by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you or your creative director would like to be featured in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Kyle O’Brien.

British Library: The Whole Wealth of Human Knowledge

By British Library

Overall Rating 5/5

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