Chip Shop Awards chair Wayne Deakin on why ads need humor more than ever
In the latest episode of The Drum's Chair Leaders series, editor-in-chief Gordon Young meets Wolff Olins’ global principal for creative who will be heading up The Chip Shop Awards jury this year.
The Chip Shop Awards is the only awards program with no boundaries, no limits, and no rules. You don’t need to have had a career in advertising to enter (seriously, a school teacher once took home the Grand Prix), had the ad hit screens in real life or even work with the client. And with no boundaries, it’s the perfect opportunity for creatives of any age or background to really show the world what they can do. Judging the entries this year is Wayne Deakin, global principle for creative at Wolff Olins.
Deakin stumbled into advertising after a failed attempt at becoming a pro surfer. You can read more about his start here. But it's lucky for the industry that he did as in his 20+ year career spanning six continents at agencies like Huge, Engine, AKQA and Jung Von Matt he's masterminded work that has won him over 500 awards.
He sat down with our editor-in-chief to talk about the ads that have made him spit out his tea and why now, more than ever, we need a serious dose of humour in our advertising.
‘I don’t know how they got away with it’
One of the best campaigns to win at the Chip Shops last year did actually make it on to screens. Fred & Farid LA’s campaign for Ladder Insurance told the story of a family trying in vain to kill the dad. ‘Life Insurance so good, they're gonna want you dead’ read the endline along with a comically written, but pretty important, terms and conditions disclaimer stating that if you do manage to murder a relative the insurance policy will be void. “I don’t know how they got away with that,” said Deakin. “But…well done! It takes a brave client. [Insurance] is a category that’s in need of a bit of fun.”
Last year’s Grand Prix winner was another standout for all the right reasons, said Deakin. The campaign was created for Heinz by ad agency Gusto. It was not a client of the agency and the work never ran. The spot was centred on a family sitting round a Christmas table, showing their slow motion reactions as one diner bashes the bottom of a ketchup bottle across his turkey dinner. “It’s a bit bonkers and fun and had good direction. It made me laugh,” he said.
Deakin was also a fan of a concept from Ogilvy Health that transformed a Sainsbury’s 'bag for life' into a campaign for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. “What I like about that is that it’s such an easy idea to execute. Any young creative out there could mock it up quickly. It’ a simple idea that doesn’t take a lot of production. That’s what’s so great about the Chip Shop Awards – it gives any creative the platform to show their ability and stretch," he said.
All these examples led Deakin to say that no matter the category, client or message, the work that will impress the jury the most will be based on a killer idea executed simply.
“It’s a cluttered market of ideas out there so what people really need to capture is a strong narrative, strong idea, simply executed,” he said. “And I think from a digital point of view, it’s an opportunity to use digital to its full potential. We now communicate through Gifs and TikToks so is there stuff out there that can capture comms in a new way rather than traditional channels?”
And, of course, using humour to get across a series message: “We need humour. Why I’m excited to be chair this year is that we’re in a really weird, scary uncertain time; culturally and economically. And humour is a great leveller and way to connect people. It has power to bring people together. That idea of using humour to bring us altogether and serve a good purpose.”
You can watch other episodes from the Chair Leaders on The Drum's TV Channel here.