The APG Creative Strategy Awards Shortlist 2007: Panel's View


This paper is a great example of zagging when the world zigs. About taking the high ground, when competitors are fighting down and dirty. About creating a dialogue, when others are simply shouting.

In the land-grab for broadband customers, ISPs had been slugging it out over who could offer the most bandwidth for the cheapest price. People felt they were all the same - focused on offers and not service. In fact, research uncovered a core brand truth: that AOL is passionate about helping people get the most out of the internet, a fact borne out in AOL members' high satisfaction ratings.

Planning hit on the idea that if communication could highlight the ways in which the internet is transforming our lives, for good and for bad, then this could help improve people's internet experience, and show AOL's commitment to achieving this.

The final breakthrough was to create a dialogue, rather than to flog product. AOL's role became one of "host", as the campaign invited people to discuss the issues raised.

There's lots to like about this paper: diligent use of strategic research, great quotes from Tim Berners Lee, a rich creative briefing. Perhaps most importantly, it reminds us that how you behave is as important as what you say. - Rachel Hatton

Planned by: Emma Batho, Simon White
Agency: Grey London
Brand: AOL
Campaign: discuss


We are all keen to learn more about how to use the "digital space" well, especially when it comes to building brand image and reputation. The judges welcomed the Radio 1 paper because it adds to our store of knowledge.

The Agency Republic team was briefed by Radio 1 to get young people to "reappraise Radio 1 and give it a try". Through a blend of old-style planning skills and new-style digital and technological thinking, the team created the Musicubes campaign. This campaign let young people build their own version of Radio 1 via "interactive music towers" and place the tower on their personal web pages and blogs.

We liked the fact that planning turned Radio 1's greatest potential weakness (bland breadth) into strength (eclectic diversity). We really liked the fact that planning understood how this product strength could help young people say something about themselves to their peers. And we really, really liked the fact that planning understood how Radio 1 could use emerging online technologies to actively help young people in this quest for a "social identity". - Olivia Johnson

Planned by: Tim Millar
Agency: Agency Republic
Brand: BBC Radio 1
Campaign: Musicubes


Planning's complete engagement with the issues faced by Birds Eye dramatically shifted the way the brand communicated, and in doing so started to overturn decades of cultural opinion.

Proceeding from the insight that it is the food, not the freezing, that was holding back the brand - people are quite happy to buy fresh or chilled food and then bung it in the freezer - the initial work focused on the quality of the food, convincing mums that it was better than they thought.

However, when this failed to deliver the expected impact on sales, the problem had to be revisited.

It's at this point that the planning got brave. Taking on chilled and fresh foods by implication wasn't enough. The single objective on the brief was "to make mums think of Birds Eye frozen food as the best-quality option, bar none", directly taking on a generation of received wisdom, Jamie Oliver and "Doctor" Gillian McKeith, and producing simple, bold arresting work that dramatically shifted the perceptions of the audience (and many of the shortlisters, myself included). - Toby Roberts

Planned by: Steve Mustarde
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Brand: Birds Eye
Campaign: The truth


Planners increasingly have to develop global campaigns for global brands. So it's always fascinating to see how this process works for the ultimate global brand, Coca-Cola. Traditionally, it's a matter of finding a global consumer insight for the brand; this paper presented us with a different approach.

There was no truly engaging global consumer insight for Coke. Instead of packing up and going home, Coke and Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam's planners chose to identify a global role that Coke had always played, and make that role the focus of the brief. Then they identified the local variations on this role - noting that the positivity and optimism of "the Coke side of life" are subtly different in Canada and China. The result was a spectrum of work from around the world that managed to feel relevant and still globally coherent. The shortlisters saw this as a groundbreaking approach to global planning. One creative director called this approach "a boulevard for good ideas". Expect this to be the blueprint for briefing global campaigns in future. - Tom Morton

Planned by: Laurence Horner, Dave Cobban, Scott Cromer, Ivan Wicksteed,
Peter Schelstraete
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam
Brand: Coca-Cola Classic
Campaign: The Coke side of life


There is little romance in bleeding gums and loose teeth, still less in medicated mouthwash. The challenge for planning was to make blood, dentists and Corsodyl into a viable story that would encourage people to actively seek out the brand.

So this paper is about defining barriers and finding new and unexpected solutions. It is a victory for planning at its most thorough, and shows how getting deep into the problem and really understanding the challenge can lead to a most unorthodox and effective solution - in this case, unbranded advertising.

The paper carefully elucidates all the issues facing Corsodyl's need to increase sales. It faces up to consumers in denial of the problem and finds a really fresh solution to the difficulties of forging a connection when the primary channel is an intermediary - in this case, the dentist.

Taking in evidence from clinical psychologists and experts along the way, it finds new solutions to presenting an unpalatable truth in a compelling manner and results in fresh and surprising work. - Sarah Newman

Planned by: Cressida O'Shea, Catherine Graham
Agency: Grey London
Brand: Corsodyl
Campaign: Don't ignore blood


The shortlisters very much enjoyed the charming journey on which this beautifully presented paper took them.

It began with an endearing chronicle of the brand's history, with particular fondness elicited by the description of its role during World War Two. What's not to love about "the condiment equivalent of Vera Lynn"?

Insightful thinking went into identifying the nub of the consumer issue - that Salad Cream is an embarrassing purchase. This then fed into a strategy that appropriately focused on the emotional, rather than rational, while intelligently sidestepping a more obvious way forward.

This is a case that commendably reaches into the brand for some truth, rather than attaching to or inventing something outside of it. It cleverly finds something that sits in the intersection of the brand's history, the physical nature of the product and consumer memories of it. And wraps it all up with the heart-warming proposition of "Pourable sunshine".

And yet, this is not a just case study of undiluted cosiness. It is one that reports a strategy, and resulting creative work, that cleverly foster the co-existence of nostalgia and contemporaneity. - Stuart Smith

Planned by: Peter Wilson
Agency: McCann Erickson
Brand: Heinz Salad Cream
Campaign: Pourable sunshine


Kleenex had always been about control: to return you to a state of tear-free, snot-free normality.

However, this paper argues that control and bottling things up was the last thing our modern society needed. It would, in fact, be much healthier for people to do the reverse: to let it all out, to emote freely, to cry and to shout, to let the tears and the snot flow freely. Kleenex as a product would perform the same role it had always done: it would be there for when you wanted to wipe away your tears or blow your nose. However, Kleenex as a brand would move from encouraging control to encouraging release. As the brief stated: "We needed to start a kind of movement. A mass unclenching. A world where people let it all out."

We thought this was a wonderful insight: a laddering up to a big emotional thought that was still intricately linked to the role the product actually performed. - Matt Willifer

Planned by: Angela Morris
Agency: JWT
Brand: Kleenex
Campaign: Let it out


In a world where everyone's banging on about word of mouth, this paper shows how the application of a bit of planning rigour, and some great execution, to this notoriously nebulous concept can pay huge dividends.

Having launched the brand and encouraged trial, the problem facing the team was that the brand appeared to have no real loyalty. Advertising drove purchase, but then as soon as the activity ended, so did sales. A bit of consumer research diagnosed the problem - the issue was not what was being said, but that the channel through which it was delivered was simply insufficient. Consumers didn't understand why it was a better product.

An inspired piece of channel thinking solved this problem. Gym instructors are the ultimate influencers for the audience - so developing a narrowly targeted, but information-rich campaign to get these guys on side would ultimately deliver far greater impact than a broad, but shallow campaign against all gym-goers.

The execution was also impressive. Rather than just pay these guys to recommend the product - risky at the best of times - they actually got the instructors to test the product themselves to understand the difference it genuinely made. The result: genuine brand ambassadors. - Toby Roberts

Planned by: Jacqueline Biggs, Anna Donaghey, Jon Wyatt
Agencies: M&C Saatchi, Fast Track
Brand: Lucozade Hydro Active


The first thing that impresses the reader of this paper is how incredibly well written it is. However, the abiding impression it leaves is the intriguing cleverness of favouring underclaim over seemingly more powerful weaponry.

The shortlisters enjoyed the set-up of "the overclaim business" ... the default setting of the communications industry to accentuate, aggrandise and stretch out every last percentage point of competitive advantage.

They were also impressed with the use of accompanied training sessions, with sporting high achievers such as Steven Gerrard. This research wasn't just done because Lucozade had these stars on their books. It was constructed and conducted with specific purpose - to deve-lop a richer understanding of "winning".

With the assistance of this unique and illuminating research, the strategy for the brand was turned on its head. Out was the superhero performance claim of 33 per cent better. In was a seemingly seven-stone weakling underclaim, around the concept of the tiny margin between glory and disappointment. Or, in a brutally simple word: edge.

This is a case where an "it-seems-almost-obvious-looking-back" idea is testament to the intelligence used to do the exact opposite of the obvious. - Stuart Smith

Planned by: Richard Storey
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Brand: Lucozade Sport


This is a beguilingly seductive paper that puts across an elegant and original piece of thinking in a well-trodden category. Drawing on Lurpak's heritage and the foodie culture, this paper shows how classic planning combined with new thinking at the brand level can result in highly effective and mouth-watering work.

At its heart is the novel proposition that much of our thinking around brands focuses on the brand as the heart of the universe and sets out to point up the inherent dangers of self-obsession. It reminds us that constantly projecting opinions about yourself can be as unattractive in a brand as constantly talking about yourself is in people. Using some artful stimulus drawn from the conversations of Theodore Roosevelt, and Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, it makes a case for branded self-effacement - concentrating instead on provoking a discussion around good food and the fine qualities of Lurpak's culinary partners. - Sarah Newman

Planned by: Matt Boffey
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, London
Brand: Lurpak
Campaign: Good food deserves Lurpak


This is a great story of planning going upstream. Unilever had traditionally presented new variants of Lynx to Bartle Bogle Hegarty as a fait accompli, and the role of planning had been to bring them to life. Lynx Click was the first time when planning had been involved in the development of the product itself.

Planning identified the split-second moment of connection between guys and girls on the pull as a potent theme for developing a fragrance. This led to the development of "clicking" as a platform for engaging the problem with the brand, and the roll-out of a clicking device that allowed guys to measure how many girls were checking them out.

The shortlisters admired this story of building a product around an engagement platform, rather than building an engagement platform around a product. It is inspiration for any planner who has sat in an NPD brainstorm, and a powerful case for planning to get involved with the marketing of a product from its earliest development. - Tom Morton

Planned by: Gavin May
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Brand: Lynx/Axe
Campaign: Click


These days, anyone with an internet connection has the potential to bring a company down. In today's web 2.0 world, planners will increasingly have to turn their attention to managing corporate reputation. This paper offers some valuable lessons in how to go about it.

In 2006, McDonald's was the fourth most-disliked brand in the UK - still suffering the hangover from Supersize Me, the poster child for everything that's wrong with the British diet.

Communicating the facts about McDonald's products hadn't been enough to rebuild trust with the core audience: mums. So McDonald's took the bold step of opening up its doors. The "Make up your own mind" campaign encouraged people to ask McDonald's difficult questions, which it promised to answer honestly. It also recruited cynical but curious mums to go behind the scenes and make their own ads about what they found.

We felt that this paper was an object lesson in "letting go" and allowing consumers to own the debate. This stemmed from some sound thinking about how to create peer-to-peer connections. In establishing new ground rules for building relationships, McDonald's has created a campaign that feels fresh, honest and authentic. - Rachel Hatton

Planned by: Tania Forester
Agency: TBWA\London
Brand: McDonald's
Campaign: Make up your own mind


Celebrating failure might seem an unusual idea for a company that makes running shoes. It is unusual and it is illogical. And that's what makes this strategy so brave and the subsequent 60-second film so good.

Nike wanted to reinstate Air's credentials as an authentic running shoe used by serious athletes, and in doing so reclaim the product from the street-corner kids and their fashion motifs. By talking to professional athletes about pain and injury, planning uncovered a theme that, at first glance, seemed totally at odds with what Nike should be saying: that the deepest fear of the athlete, and indeed humankind, is the fear of failure.

The creative brief focused on the insight that whether you're a professional athlete or an enthusiastic amateur, sport is hard on the body (aches, injuries), but even harder on the mind (failure, defeat). This insight was simply but brilliantly brought to life for the creative teams with a list of one hundred examples of sporting failure.

The outcome? A celebration of failure to the despondent sounds of an alcoholic man singing about heroin addiction. It shouldn't work but it does. - Tom Bazeley

Planned by: Dave Cobban
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam
Brand: Nike Air Max 360
Campaign: Endure


It's easy to see planning on Nike as the ultimate open goal. Surely it's a simple matter of putting another pumped-up sports story in front of the young men who form the core of Nike's fanbase and listening for the applause. It's much more challenging, and therefore much more interesting, to see how Nike could engage with women who have historically rejected Nike's testosterone-fuelled branding. The paper is a bold story of how Nike sought to win women over, of the search for a place where the "just do it" ethos might resonate with women.

We loved the way that planning identified dance as an area where Nike could connect with women, and how it uncovered dancers' frustration that ignorant men failed to see dance as pure athleticism. This elegant insight led to some of the most viscerally powerful work in the competition - Nike's "Tell me I'm not an athlete" campaign. Breathtaking stuff, in every sense. - Tom Morton

Planned by: Dave Cobban
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam
Brand: Nike Women
Campaign: Tell me I'm not an athlete


We seem to work in a time when using a new piece of technology or device in a marketing campaign is often heralded as "pioneering", irrespective of what the thing is saying or whether anyone really cares for it in the first place. Technology for the sake of it is often quite boring. It only becomes interesting when it's telling a good story.

This paper for Orange World shows how some simple and sensible channel planning overcame this common pitfall. The campaign consisted of a series of bite-size mobile films - all of which were shot by, directed by and starred Frank Lampard. The content was good enough to be sought out by people and, in doing so, demonstrated to the masses what Orange World is good at.

Some smart thinking was shown in the planning process, notably the decision to encourage trial of Orange World, as opposed to just telling people about it, and the handing over of creative control to a Premier League footballer in the pursuit of authenticity. - Tom Bazeley

Planned by: Steve Martin
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Brand: Orange World
Campaign: The Frank Lampard video diaries


At the heart of this paper is an insight that transformed how Sainsbury's looked at its market, thought about its customers, defined its role in their lives and trained its management. Oh, and along the way that same insight was the foundation of a rather good ad campaign, too.

The paper has many strengths but we particularly liked the fact that the thinking was grounded in an insight not about the consumer, the product or the market but about the business objective. Planning re-framed the business target to make it feel both tangible and achievable and then followed through the implications of the analysis, resisting the temptation to yield to convention, to prove how Sainsbury's could achieve massive growth by getting customers to make a "small, almost imperceptible change to their habits". Innovative research was then used to dramatise the concept of "sleep shopping", which enabled planning to identify a new role for Sainsbury's in its customers' lives: to break people out of their shopping and eating routines by inspiring them to "try, not buy".

There is lots to be inspired by in this paper, but most of all it holds a valuable lesson for all planners: "If you want to change things dramatically, you had better try something new." - Kate Waters

Planned by: Craig Mawdsley
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Brand: Sainsbury's
Campaign: Try something new today


The objective was to make Tate Britain feel as contemporary and populist as the headline-grabbing Tate Modern, hence overcoming its slightly stuffy image, and the fact it largely contains traditional works of art.

The agency realised that all art - new and old - was linked by emotion: conceived as an expression of an artist's feelings, and designed to stimulate an emotional response in the viewer. Because emotions are timeless and intensely personal, this insight had the power to position Tate Britain as every bit as contemporary and relevant as Tate Modern.

However, for us, the really clever bit of thinking was what came next. Rather than simply create some ads around the emotional power of art, the agency created a series of tours: 20 tours, for 20 different feelings, for 20 different days, each suggesting a different path around the gallery. Then the role of advertising was to publicise these different tours.

We felt this was inspired: rather than just telling people something, the agency actually invented something new for people to do. - Matt Willifer

Planned by: Matt Springate
Agency: Fallon
Brand: Tate Britain
Campaign: Tate collections


The Tate Modern paper is a brilliant example of what I believe to be the future role of a creative agency. The gallery has the remit of "making art accessible to more people". And yet, it was failing to engage 15- to 24-year-olds. There was an assumption, challenged by the agency, that teenagers were just not interested in art. The agency noted that they were in fact massive consumers of art, and it was simply a problem of definition: their "art" was music.

So the agency arranged for 12 musical artists, from Roll Deep to the Chemical Brothers, to visit the gallery and write tracks inspired by individual works of art. This was then made exclusively available in the Tate and subsequently on the website.

The ads were functional - but they didn't need to be anything other, in the presence of such a big idea. Marketing money used to create a new innovation that builds a bridge to the consumer and adds value to the product experience - that, ladies and gentlemen, is the future. - Shaun McIlrath

Planned by: Matt Springate
Agency: Fallon
Brand: Tate Modern
Campaign: Tate tracks


We're all looking for an idea (the big idea) that can work in any number of media and accommodate any number of jobs from the hard product sell to the softer brand sell. If it also helps give the business an overall sense of direction, then we really feel we've hit pay dirt.

The Learning Channel is an example an idea that genuinely does all of the above. But what really impressed the judges was that The Learning Channel is a network broadcaster. Broadcasters normally rely on showcasing their most high-profile programmes or celebrities. Scant attention is paid to building the channel brand. The Learning Channel team turned their backs on this approach and defined the channel first and foremost. The ensuing creative idea created a clear position and personality for the channel. This promise was then used to sell individual programmes.

And the alluring thing about the paper was that the thinking started with good, old-fashioned (dare one say, unfashionable) understanding of the target audience, imaginatively rendered by the time it reached the creative brief. - Olivia Johnson

Planned by: Katherine Wintsch
Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Brand: The Learning Channel
Campaign: Life lessons


More than anything else, this paper is an example of persistent sleuthing. In an attempt to reduce the number of motorbike accidents in London, the team undertook some rigorous investigation work. As a result, they discovered that bikers were more likely to crash on roads that they were familiar with (when you might have expected the opposite to be true).

This, in turn, led to the unearthing of the term "cognitive inflexibility" - top-notch planning vocab and scientific proof that the more frequently we perform a task, the less aware we are likely to be while doing it. This autopilot effect was, it seemed, a major cause of the accidents.

The work simply brought this message to life and the results are a tribute to the team's tireless Sam Spade-work. - Shaun McIlrath

Planned by: Rohini Pahl
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Brand: Transport for London motorbike road safety
Campaign: Familiarity


There's a lot of received wisdom around when it comes to advertising shampoos and conditioners. "Use lots of 'scientific' graphics" might well be injunction number one. "Use lots of facts, figures and percentages" might well be injunction two. And "use lots of shots of unfeasibly beautiful hair" might well be injunction three.

The Wash & Go paper is pleasing because it turned its back on all these well-worn routes and talked to women about what happens in your life when your hair looks (and feels) fantastic.

The judges were impressed by how the planning team got to the insight on which the creative brief was based. Going off and "living" with consumers has become something of a common place these days. So it was rejuvenating to hear tell of a different approach. The team sent hairstylists into women's homes and then went back a week later to ask them how it had been. The feedback surprised the planning team who, nonetheless, made excellent use of the fact that the women said the best thing about their "new hair" was the new interest their husbands took in them. - Olivia Johnson

Planned by: Elena Ionita
Agency: Leo Burnett & Target SA, Romania
Brand: Wash & Go
Campaign: Mum gets it again


One of the golden rules of advertising is to be single-minded. Faced with the challenge of targeting two very different audiences with different needs - "players" and "gamers" - with the core communications channel (TV), the easy option would have been to create a campaign that just targeted one of these groups.

What we liked about this case was that planning rejected this approach. A very clear and thorough understanding of the task led to the realisation that targeting both audiences was critical for success. A brilliant piece of creative thinking turned what was the biggest challenge - the differences between the audiences - into the launch-pad for the idea: creating an interactive TV ad that worked on two levels - "advertising that at first sight was targeting players ... but where there was more for gamers to discover". Insightful channel planning exploited the interplay between internet and TV to drive TV participation to record levels, simultaneously building credibility among the opinion-forming gamers, and educating players about the new features of the console.

In short, planning played a crucial role in shaping a campaign that was both innovative - creating several communication "firsts" - and highly successful. - Kate Waters

Planned by: Mark Brown
Agency: Weapon 7
Brand: Xbox 360
Campaign: Easter egg


Forty-two Australian creatives in a perspex box, 24 hours a day for two weeks. No, it's not Aussie Rules Big Brother, but a live event staged by Yahoo! to prove the creative potential of online media to the sceptical Australian creative community.

In 2005, Yahoo! briefed its agency Host to develop a trade marketing campaign to encourage the use of its medium. At that time, online was in the "too difficult" box: lots of techie stuff to get to grips with for little creative reward.

A clear definition of the task helped unlock the problem: Yahoo! needed to prove the creative potential of the internet. This meant actively involving Australia's creative community in developing ideas online. The Yahoo! Think Tank invited Australia's top creatives to take turns in a perspex box where they had ten minutes to create online solutions for briefs fired in from around the world. A genuinely innovative idea that challenged prejudices far better than conventional advertising could have.

This case study shows that a well-defined task for communications is the starting point for a great idea. And it's a timely reminder that brands today need to "do", not just "tell". - Rachel Hatton

Planned by: Frank Bethel, Olly Taylor
Agency: Host, Australia
Brand: Yahoo! Australia
Campaign: Think tank