2020 Review of the Year: The nine that made it to 10

So, this year more than most, the advertising and marketing industry needed to prove its worth. Many brands fell well short, others excelled in tough times and these nine campaigns stood head and shoulders above the rest in our eyes…

#IStayHomeFor: McCann is bringing home the Bacon
Back in March advertising budgets were threatening to disappear down the Covid-19 plughole, and agencies were seemingly twiddling their thumbs – albeit at home – but up stepped McCann, yep an agency and everything, to draft in actor Kevin Bacon for a social media push aimed at stemming the spread of virus.

#IStayHomeFor asked people to post an image or video to their social channels of themselves at home holding up the name of a person they wanted to keep safe.

Here’s what we reckoned: “Whoever came up with the idea deserves a big pat on the back. Of course, we would all rather #IStayHomeFor our loved ones at Elton John’s pad in the South of France than at the Decision Marketing Nerve Centre, but hey everyone’s got to make sacrifices…”

United Nations creative call to action: If not now, when?
The following week, the United Nations joined the fight, calling for a multitude of creative solutions to translate “critical public health messages into different languages, different cultures, communities and platforms, reaching everyone, everywhere”.

Our response: “Are you joking? There is only one possible consensus, GET ON WITH IT! After all, for certain generations the creative industry has always been seen as ‘the last bastion of the skiver’, and being a creative viewed as not a ‘proper job’. But here’s the chance to prove the doubters wrong. GO FORTH AND CREATE!”

#WeAreLtd: Isn’t it time we supported all freelancers?
By May, the UK had been in lockdown for nearly two months and many felt that freelancers – the lifeblood of the creative industry – had been cast aside and left to rot by the Government’s failure to include them in the Covid-19 financial support schemes.

Enter the #WeAreLtd campaign by freelance producer Matt Keen, which served as a hub for the latest developments, most effective action strategies and a platform to collectively obtain a louder voice on the national stage.

So, what was our consensus? “Quite simple: sign it, share it, do anything you can to get involved! #WeAreLtd #Dont4GetUsNow #Freelance.”

Big Issue Sell a Sub: Give them the hope they need
With Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc, there were rays of hope in the midst of the global crisis. The new sense of community; the recognition that carers, delivery drivers and shop assistants do crucial jobs; the outstanding work of the NHS.

The fact that it took the coronavirus to tackle the issue of homelessness was not lost on most, although even then it was only a short term measure. With this in mind, The Big Issue launched a creative campaign dubbed “Sell A Sub” to call on the public to flog the magazine on behalf of its sellers, who had been asked to stand down for the foreseeable future.

The kit included guidance on how people could update their LinkedIn job description and profile to let connections know they had become a volunteer during the Coronavirus crisis, and a link for others to click if they were interested in taking part in the challenge.

Our thoughts? “It would be easy to turn the other cheek, think of homelessness as someone else’s problem, and with predictions of economic meltdown, many people will be fearful for their own futures. But it does not take much for life to come crashing down and most of us are only a couple of missed mortgage or rental payments away from being in the same situation. Just sign up, after all, it could be you…”

Depaul UK #SleepBedless: No place for homelessness
By June, Depaul UK had launched a new campaign to highlight that rough sleepers were only part of the issue of homelessness, and that “hidden homelessness”, which forces people to sofa surf or stay in unsafe accommodation, was a major issue.

Covid-19 had been devastating for the young, making their lives, moving from place to place and sleeping on sofas or with strangers in risky situations, even more precarious.

Created in partnership with agency Publicis Poke, the #SleepBedless viral campaign asked the public to sleep without beds for a night to raise awareness of the issue and fundraise to help cover the charity’s coronavirus crisis costs.

So what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office? “The young are the future of this country, so why wouldn’t you want to help those who through no fault of their own find themselves sofa surfing, drifting from place to place? While the lockdown has been hard for many, imagine what it must be like if you don’t have a permanent place to live? Many people are feeling unsure about their own futures, but these kids are hurting now. Just sign up, after all, there are still far too many who don’t get the support they need…”

ITV’s Britain Get Talking 2.0: Now we’re really talking
Another big issue this year has been the nation’s plummeting mental health. Back in May, ITV tapped into Mental Health Awareness Week by “Zooming” a gaggle of celebs. While well intentioned, the activity came across as just too smug.

The second initiative saw the launch of a new appeal “Help Our Helplines” created by Uncommon Creative Studio. With Covid triggering a huge rise in anxiety, and rates of depression almost doubling during lockdown, calls to mental health helplines had sharply increased; charities were taking more calls, and the calls were lasting longer.

So, thankfully, out went the annoying celebs, pretending to struggle in their luxury pads, replaced by honest, personal stories of mental health and the life changing beneficial actions of reaching out to someone for help.

Our thoughts? “It could be easy to dismiss the rise in mental health issues as somebody else’s problem but this is a crisis like no other and can potentially hit even the most Panglossian among us. So dig deep, you never know, next time it could be you and yours who need support.”

Co-op Community: Timely response to a difficult year
In November, the Co-op raised awareness of its community programme with a film backed by a poem written in conjunction with up-and-coming spoken word artist Sarah Adedeji. Specifically penned to encapsulate how everything has felt doubly difficult this year, agency Lucky Generals delivered a message of hope that by working together we will emerge twice as strong.

The ad is part one of the retailer’s winter 2020 campaign, with part two focusing on Christmas (see below). Both ads have a central theme of the importance of community, and the tangible positive difference which can be made in these communities by those who live, work and trade there.

Our view: “It’s not that often that retailers and their agencies just get it, but this is a classic example of an ad that feels authentic, timely, and genuine. It’s has been a shit year for many and while some supermarket shareholders have been handed hundreds of millions of pounds in payouts, Co-op’s shareholders are its customers, not big City investors. And what could be more community-spirited than that?

Co-op Community 2.0: A Supersonic Christmas treat
Within weeks Co-op launched the second phase of the activity, once again by Lucky Generals, featuring two real-life brothers who decide to make a difference by busking the Oasis community “anthem” Round Are Way outside a Co-op store. They start tentatively but gain confidence as more people stop to listen and eventually the brothers belt out the track, in a manner to do Oasis proud.

The ad, which launched on YouTube, is designed to celebrate that anyone can do their bit to help their local community and spread some festive cheer.

So, what was the consensus around the Decision Marketing office? “We gave the first in this series top marks because, in our humble opinion at least, it feels authentic, timely, and genuine. And this film has those same qualities, with the added bonus of the eldest brother overcoming his impatience with his seemingly annoying younger sibling for the sake of community.

“It doesn’t need all the Christmas razzamataz, baubles, piles of fake snow, or even a singing carrot to get its message across. In fact, it could actually teach the warring Gallaghers a thing or two about brotherly love as well.”

NHS Charities Together: For the people who helped most
Created by Iris, NHS Charities Together’s first ever Christmas campaign has come under fire for upsetting the little kiddies – or their over-sensitive parents, more like. However, the consensus around the Decision Marketing office could not have been clearer, like all of the above, it was a ten all the way.

“Setting aside the issue of why, as one of the world’s richest nations, we have to have charities to support NHS staff, volunteers, and patients in the first place, this is a truly worthy cause. Admittedly, the film is not exactly based on an original idea, but it is Christmas, so we will let them have it this time. NHS staff and volunteers have been heroes for years; in this, their toughest year, can we really afford not to help the people who helped the people?”

See you next year!

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