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Creative Director’s Choice: RPA’s Sarah May Bates on ‘The Last Ever Issue’


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

December 5, 2019 | 4 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.

Last Issue Ever

'The Last Ever Issue' campaign

This week, Sarah May Bates, vice-president creative director/copywriter at RPA Advertising, talks about the risk-taking, and Cannes Lions award-winning campaign, ‘The Last Ever Issue.’

Sarah May Bates

I am inspired when I see risk-taking in advertising – it’s pretty awesome when someone goes beyond a media buy and alters the landscape of culture. For this reason, I chose a campaign from VMLY&R Poland Warsaw launched by, with support from Mastercard and Bank BNP Paribas. This campaign really inspired me because of the concrete steps that the brands took to make a statement and create social change. This wasn’t just an ad – it was an action.

Together the three brands retired one of the longest-running porn magazines in Poland and turned it into a megaphone for female empowerment. The insight that inspired it: Poland ranks far behind other EU countries in gender equality. Women are still seen and treated as the weaker, lesser sex. There’s also no sex education in Polish schools, which means the majority of kids learn about sex through porn mags like The Weekend. The idea to buy this magazine and use it as a soapbox to promote the realities of women, featuring real and brilliant (clothed) individuals, moved me deeply. For a brand to buy a magazine is an incredible undertaking in itself. But the idea was also beautifully executed – took the existing content and reimagined it within a new context, using the editorial to educate readers about topics like sexism and promote diverse feminine ideals.

As a woman who has lived through some very different (and much more sexist) times in advertising, this campaign felt very inspired and thoughtful. It’s like one of those rare experimental ideas that you think could never happen in reality, executed in exactly the way it should be. There is power in ending a sexist magazine in honor of promoting a new way of thinking – it demonstrates an ethic. As a creative director who knew nothing about, I respect the brand for going the extra mile, and thanks to this work, I have a positive impression of who they are as a company.

Sarah May Bates is a vice-president, creative director/copywriter at RPA Advertising in Los Angeles, working on the Honda brand.

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. The Last Ever Issue by VML


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