This long-running series from Thinkbox and Campaign began with Nick Gill, then executive director at BBH, on October 16 2012. Since then and until 2020, leading Thinkbox Academy members have been regularly selecting just three TV ads that have inspired them: brilliant commercials, old and new, that they admire but had nothing to do with. Sir John Hegarty was the interviewee for “3 great ads at 50” in December 2018. Noel Bunting features in our first in the revived series, and many more faces will follow throughout 2023.
The idea is not only to explore some of our greatest ads in the company of people who know a thing or two about making them, but also, because of the proven link between creativity and effectiveness, to inspire the advertising industry to even greater heights.
We hope you enjoy the films.
Noel (Hamilton) Bunting is executive creative director at Neverland in London, named Best Startup Agency by Campaign in 2022. Over 18 years in advertising, she has created campaigns for Dove, Volvo, Oreo, Canon, Febreze, the FDA, Jamaica Tourism and the United States Marine Corps at agencies that include Ogilvy UK, Adam & Eve/DDB, Grey New York, FCB and JWT. In 2013, she was named one of the Most Creative People in Advertising Right Now by Business Insider and One of the 30 Most Creative People in Social Media. Her awards include a Grand Prix Lion for the Oreo Daily Twist campaign.
1. The New York Times “The Truth Is Essential: Life Needs Truth”
“Life Needs Truth” is a campaign that responds to the idea that the truth can guide us through life and help us navigate the world we live in.
The work is the next iteration of the “The Truth Is Essential” campaign that shows Times journalism as part of the fabric of life.
The work looks to capture the current time in the US through the lens of New York Times reporting—bringing it to the fore—and reminding people that, in times like these, we all need journalism to help us process the world.
Agency: Droga5 New York Creative team: Tim Gordon, Laurie Howell, Toby Treyer-Evans Client: David Rubin Production company: Method Studios Director: Kim Gehrig
2. Campaign Against Living Miserably “The last photo”
“The Last Photo” is a UK-wide campaign from suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), created with Adam & Eve/DDB in London, which aims to offer practical advice on what suicidal behaviour might look like and how to help loved ones you might be worried about.
The campaign also aims to redress the “image” of suicide that we might hold in our minds, of someone who is outwardly depressed, reclusive and sad. As the simple but hugely powerful campaign shows, this is often not the case, and, instead, those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts might, in fact, appear happy and successful.
The spot features home video footage that similarly shows seemingly happy people enjoying life, playing with children and making jokes, before it is revealed at the end that soon after the imagery was shot, they died by suicide.
A 90-second TV commercial launched on ITV’s This Morning, with the TV show supporting the initiative. A broader integrated campaign also appeared in print and social, with CALM’s ambassadors, brands and partners delivering wider content.
The ad was a May/June 2022 Thinkboxes winner in Campaign.
Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB Creative team: Andy Clough, Richard McGrann, Ant Nelson, Mike Sutherland Client: Matt Jennings Production company: Cain&Abel Director: Max Fisher
3. Virgin Media “Why Walk When You Can Ride”
The TV commercial begins with a close-up on a cow’s face as it heads towards the breath-taking views of the Scottish Highlands. Biking to the iconic soundtrack of Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing track She’s Like The Wind, the camera follows the cow for a period of time before pulling away and leaving it to endeavour on its own adventure.
And so emerges the challenge to consumers: why walk when you can ride? Displaying the cow’s quest to better herself, this film builds on Virgin Media’s commitment to challenge the status quo through its continuous quest to optimise customer experience.
The playful campaign appeared throughout the UK across multiple formats, led by a hero 60” film, “Highland Rider”, directed by award-winning director Jeff Low that premiered during the England Women’s international friendly football match against the USA on ITV. Supported by a 30” spot, the film depicts the story of a highland cow who, inspired by epic biking scenes she's seen streamed over Virgin Media WiFi, goes better and beyond by taking to the tarmac on a motorbike.
The ad was a September/October 2022 Thinkboxes winner in Campaign.
Agency: VCCP Creative team: David Masterman, Jason Keet, James Hodson Client: Abigail Ridgwell Production company: Biscuit Filmworks Director: Jeff Low
The Thinkbox Academy is made up of advertising and marketing luminaries who have been involved in award-winning creative work for TV.