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Ben Middleton's summer TV ad reviews

A view from Ben Middleton, co-founder and chief creative officer, Creature London

Like a hulking, six-foot reptile basking on a sunbleached wall, I love the heat, and despite the crippling insomnia the night sweats have brought me, I’ve quite enjoyed this summer.

The sunshine brings vitamin D, optimism, park-pints and the tan lines that suggest things are looking up. So with this sense of breezy well-being, I was really excited to roll up my short sleeves and see what glimmers of creative brilliance our industry has smashed out during the clammy, canicular days of this bloody pandemic.



Who will the Thinkbox Academy vote for?  And who gets your vote? Tweet us @ThinkboxTV using #Thinkboxes and view all the previous winners at www.thinkbox.tv/thethinkboxes

The Thinkboxes shortlist - July/August 2020

1. Durex 'Let's not go back to normal'

In this film, we see a series of beautifully shot, intimate moments with various pensive couples and individuals. The team has clearly worked very hard to represent the audience accurately (even if they do tend to be a bit on the thin side) and they deserve kudos for the casting work alone. But this film really comes alive when it opens its mouth (what a difference the right voice over choice makes). It feels fresh, real, distinctive and I wish more advertisers were this brave when choosing who sonically represents their brand. There are also snippets of writing brilliance, with some utterly delicious turns of phrase and chest-beating pillow talk within it.

Agency: Havas London Creative team: Greg Ormrod, Thomas Worthington Client: Ben Wilson, Shane Kerr Production company: Tubby Brother Films Director: Ben Tubby, Dan Tubby

2. Promote Iceland 'Let it Out'

This idea behind the Visit Iceland ad is as fresh as the air of the place it’s advertising. It gave me goosebumps, because (and I never thought I’d type this sentence): I’ve never been asked to use a country as a shouting receptacle before. The truth is, it’s never occurred to me before, but, like any good idea, now that it’s been suggested to me, it’s taken hold in my cerebellum, and I really want to do it. It’s an exciting lateral thought, that I have no reference point for, that makes me want to visit Iceland (once I’ve sold enough kidneys to afford it). My only hang up is that I don’t want to go and shout in Iceland. It’s beautiful (watch the film, it looks AMAZING), and tends to stay out of everyone's way. If there was a country that needs shouting in it’s ours, or that big one that begins with ‘A’ over there.

Agency: M&C Saatchi  Creative team: Stevie Archer, Daniel Bremmer, Camila Gurgel, Ieva Paulina Production company: Skot Productions Director: Samuel & Gunnar

3. Lynx 'Smell ready'

The fact that Lynx has put out a lockdown idea during the stink of high summer had me mopping my brow in anticipation. I love ideas like this. It’s a proper ad concept like the ones we all loved before purposeful tone poems became the only mark of good work. It opens with a series of weird and wonderful hyperbolised depictions of ad-lads swilling around in their own lockdown filth, only to be confronted by the horror-pportunity (shush that’s a word) to re-connect with the fairer sex when they’re allowed back outside. As this is a body spray ad, somewhat inevitably, their rank incompetence and fear around re-adjusting back to pursuing their carnal desires are solved by the decadent scents of LYNX AFRICA.

Agency: MullenLowe  Creative team: Jose Miguel Sokoloff, Gavin Cumine, Drew Daves, Angus Crombie Client: Caroline Gregory Production company: Canada Director: Pensacola

4. Rightmove 'This is it'

The Rightmove ad is all about bringing to life the romantic fantasy of the life we lead when we find "the house". There’s a fantastic truth at the heart of this film that hundreds of thousands of people will recognise, and enjoy luxuriating in. The moments are captured through the alternating narrative voices of a couple, and the beautifully shot scenarios leave us with a warm and fuzzy feeling that will hopefully last long enough for us to open that search bar and type in Rightmove, rather than Zoopla.

Agency: Fold7   Creative team: Verity Fine Hosken, Ryan Newey Client: Iain Kennedy  Production company: Pulse Films Director: Daryl

5. The AA 'That feeling'

Getting out and about "segways" nicely into the AA ad, which shows a lovely puppeteered dog attempting to bring to life "that feeling" of having it’s head hanging out of the window of a moving car on a summer's day. I can relate to this. Few things beat the sense of freedom that screaming down a sunny A-road with the windows down, Garage Anthems blaring and the wind in your hair gives you, and it’s an insight that motorists will love.

Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB  Creative team: Matt Woolner, Steve Wioland Client: Tracey Abraham  Production company: MJZ Director: The Perlorian Brothers

The Thinkboxes, in association with Campaign, are the only bi-monthly awards that celebrate the UK’s world-beating TV ad creativity, in all its forms. They’re judged by the Thinkbox Academy – 200 advertising and marketing luminaries who have been involved in award-winning creative work for TV.

Want to see more great work? Head to the Thinkboxes hub


Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Warner Media and UKTV. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today’s TV.

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