Once again, it is the time of year for reflection; looking back on 12 months of advertising and marketing campaigns in our Creative Review of the Year. As is always the case, some failed, others thrived but only these ones pushed all our buttons to hit top marks on the Decision Marketing Adometer.
Badoo Let’s Fix Dating: Some light relief from the gloom
In an effort to show just how ridiculous dating app behaviours are, Badoo’s Let’s Fix Dating featured a series of playful, relatable 20-second vignettes backed by comedic French music and designed to bring these ways into the real world – and how Badoo can solve them.
One film showed a man handing out large phallic-style aubergines in a café, a move which raises a few eyebrows among the diners. It concluded with the strapline “Dating’s much better without the unwanted pictures.”
Another showed a young woman arriving at her date’s house, dressed in a coat, revealing she was only wearing lingerie underneath. The film cut to the scene of the couple sitting round the dinner table with the bloke’s parents, while the young woman had her coat firmly done up. The strapline read: “Dating’s better when you are on the same page.”
Our verdict: “We enjoyed this campaign, although whether that is because everywhere else we look there is war, death and destruction is a moot point. As we’ve said before, we are all loved up here at the Decision Marketing Nerve Centre. Even so, if that goes tits-up, we’d likely give Badoo a crack.”
DEC Ukraine Appeal: What exactly are you waiting for?
Just seven days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Disasters Emergency Committee drafted in actors Adrian Lester, Kit Harington and David Tennant for a major humanitarian appeal to raise funds to help people fleeing the conflict.
As violence raged, more than a million Ukrainians sought refuge in neighbouring European countries in the first week alone, with the UNHCR predicting it would be the “biggest refugee crisis this century” as people crossed borders into Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova.
This joint fundraising appeal brought together 15 UK aid charities – including British Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and Action Aid – to help raise funds distributed to charities on the ground, providing people with food, water and shelter.
Our take: “There is only one answer: DONATE ALL YOU CAN AND DONATE IT NOW.”
eBay Sunday League Dream Transfer: Funny old game
Designed to showcase eBay’s community ethos, this campaign took the January Transfer Window – typically reserved for football’s elite – and opened it up to everyone, through one-game Sunday League contracts, openly listed on eBay for just a fiver, with all proceeds going to the charity Football Beyond Borders.
As Sunday League took over the Transfer Window, two teams emerged victorious, with former Chelsea and England star Eni Aluko signing to Pevensey & Westham Ladies in Eastbourne and Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos signing to Bull in the Barne United – a pub team in Shrewsbury.
Sliding tackles that would make Chopper Harris look tame, and flaying elbows that even Alan Shearer would be proud of ensued, as did Chris “unbelievable Jeff” Kamara.
Our view: “This documentary sums up everything that everyone loves about Sunday League football in just over four minutes. Neither team actually benefitted from having a star player, both lost – Pevensey & Westham shipped 16 goals – but no-one cared because that is not what it was all about.”
Change Please ‘Futures to Smile About’: Ads with bite
Social enterprise Change Please partnered with oral care brand Colgate and Channel 4 to highlight the barriers those experiencing homelessness face when trying to access crucial health services and what can be done to help.
Brokered by Wavemaker, this docu-style ad told the story of Raphael, who experienced homelessness when he was 17, and encountered difficulties with his teeth and gums. However, he couldn’t access the dental care he needed as he didn’t have a permanent address.
He was initially helped by Change Please three years ago and is now a vital part of the organisation, working as a trainer and a mentor on the barista programme, which aims to empower the homeless community.
Our verdict: “There aren’t many Donny Osmonds among us here, so naturally we can empathise with anyone suffering dental issues, but there can be nothing worse than not being able to access dentistry because you are homeless. Colgate, Change Please and Wavemaker should be applauded for stepping into the breach. Quite what the politicians are doing is anyone’s guess…”
Platinum Jubilee ad review: Lovin’ it and loathin’ it
As you can imagine, there were scores of brands jumping on the Platinum Jubilee but, in our humble opinion at least, only Toolstation shone through, quite literally, by creating an opulent toolkit.
The gold-plated Crown Tools set was created by designer Elizabeth Melinek and included an adjustable wrench, a claw hammer, a chisel, a trowel and a mixing paddle, offered in a competition to win up to £500 of Toolstation products.
To support the activity, agency Krow Group has also created a 60-second film that showed the craftsmanship and detail that went into making them, before a figure in white gloves reveals them in all their “regal glory”.
Our take: “At last a brand that has been imaginative and not a Corgi in sight.”
Prostate Cancer UK Ode to Dads: Stronger than strong
Created by BBH for Prostate Cancer UK, Ode to Dads featured candid video and photography showing real fathers getting up to typical dad behaviour, set to a version of She’s the One.
It included classic lines such as: “If there’s somebody, whose nose hair’s too long, He’s the One”… “If there’s somebody asking what’s wrong, If there’s somebody stronger than strong, He’s the One.”
Inept DIY, obsessive vinyl ordering and an extensive variety of dad-relatable antics starred. “Imagine a day without our dads,” the voiceover stated, before urging audiences to visit the Prostate Cancer UK website to help save lives on Father’s Day.
Our view? “Well, either we are going soft or we have hay fever, because everyone here is very watery eyed over this campaign, which strikes the perfect balance between stupid dad and lovely dad. Come on, let’s make sure all dads are around for as long as possible.”
CALM ‘The Last Photo’: Exposing the reality of suicide
Created by Adam & Eve DDB for the Campaign Against Living Miserably, this campaign featured 50, 6.5ft unbranded, smiling portraits that were installed on London’s South Bank, drawing in passers-by with their depiction of people living what appeared to be rich, happy, care-free lives.
But each smiling image was in fact the last photograph of someone who soon after took their own life; highlighting the heart-breaking fact that suicidal doesn’t always look suicidal.
Our verdict: “Anything that raises awareness – and funds – for the fight against suicide can only be a good thing. This campaign does that in spades; with a powerful message and hopefully a route out for anyone having suicidal thoughts. After all, 125 people a week feel so bad that they end it all. Surely it is up to us all to combat that?”
Ladbrokes ‘Rocky’: Nice ad, shame about the sector
Based on the iconic Rocky II scene in which everyone’s favourite pugilist runs through the streets of Philadelphia, drawing in a crowd behind him and ending with the “big steps” finale, this TV spot for Ladbrokes was claimed to be one of the most ambitious uses of visual effects ever.
Digitally replacing the original cast with hundreds of modern sports people, drummers, horse riders, drag queens, dancers, gymnasts and many, many others, the film ended with the strapline “We Play Together”.
Our take: “Well, putting aside that this is not an ad for entertainment, as Ladbrokes would have us all believe, but an ad for gambling (and all the hurt that can cause), we like it, and it is way better than the usual gambling ads which tend to lean heavily on a ‘lads, lads, lads’ ethos or, even worse, the supposed glitz and glamour of casinos.
“For once, we have an ad that could attract the masses, and that sadly throws up a problem. As we admire the undoubted craft that has gone into its creation, others may well be tempted to lay some bets for the first time. And while that is the ultimate aim of any gambling ad, can Ladbrokes actually be trusted to Play Together?”
BHF ‘The Noisy Generation’: Time to Keep on Rocking
While most charities take a rather sombre approach to attracting legacy donations, the British Heart Foundation aimed to be more upbeat – quite literally, it seems – with the launch of this 60-second ad spearheaded by the 1973 Slade classic Cum On Feel the Noize.
Devised by Saatchi & Saatchi London, along with Nexus Studios, it opened at a reconstruction of a Slade gig, complete with Glastonbury-sized stage and head-banging audience. It then used the concert as a backdrop to transport viewers on an archival journey through many of the transformative events of the 1960s and 1970s.
The voice-over stated: “We were a noisy generation. But it might be something quiet that we do that becomes our greatest legacy. Leaving a gift in your will to the British Heart Foundation would fund ground-breaking research that could help save millions of lives. Search BHF wills.”
Our view: “You can’t beat a bit of nostalgia and this ad hits all the right notes. But wouldn’t it have been nice if Slade’s original members could have set aside their difference for a great cause and allowed the BHF to use original footage of them? Sadly, it seems, Mama, They’re All Crazee Now.”
CALM ‘The Invisible Opponent 2’: Back of the net, son
This second campaign for the Campaign Against Living Miserably also reached the dizzy heights, for challenging stereotypes and helping people open up about how they are feeling.
Timed to coincide with the Qatar World Cup, this film featured West Ham and England footballer Declan Rice battling invisible opponents on the pitch. Relief finally came at the end as a hand extends to help him from the ground with CALM’s powerful message appearing on screen “You don’t have to be alone to feel alone”, followed by a rallying cry “Let’s tackle it together”.
Our verdict: “Well, there will no doubt be some people wondering why CALM has opted for a professional footballer. But for every Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro there’s a Justin Fashanu, who took his own life in 1998.
“That is why CALM’s work is as important as ever, and anything that can tackle the issue of loneliness gets a big thumbs up from us.”