Campaign Promotion: The thinkboxes shortlist for September/October 2009

A view from ... Ben Priest.

There's some nice stuff on this month's shortlist. McDonald's "everybody" is just the job for the golden arches. And the CLG Fire Safety "breathe" spot is beautifully executed.

However, my pick of the bunch is O2's "the shop" campaign for its Load & Go card. These are fun and well cast, but that's only the half of it.

They are what's known in the trade as "contextual adverts".They only run during Hollyoaks and the storyline of the commercials ties in and relates to the plotline of Hollyoaks. Clever, huh?

Young people are pretty suspicious of ads. They are not easily impressed and if you want to get under their radar, you need to do something good, clever and different.

This campaign is all of those things. Asti Spumante all round.

- Ben Priest, creative partner, Adam & Eve.

- This is one Thinkbox Academy member's view. What do you think? You can view the ads and Academy members can vote by going to www.thinkbox.tv/thethinkboxes

- Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, Five, GMTV, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and Viacom Brand Solutions. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today's TV.

The Thinkboxes are monthly, free-to-enter awards covering all forms of TV advertising creativity. Shortlisted entries are featured in Campaign, judged by members of the Thinkbox Creative Academy and the winner is showcased in Marketing. Find out more at www.thinkbox.tv/thethinkboxes


In this appropriately eerie, blue-suffused film, the dangers of house fires are highlighted by likening a death by smoke inhalation to the respiratory effects of drowning. Shot underwater, in chilling slow-motion, the ad depicts a man and wife quietly asleep in their bed. Atmospheric shots of the pair's close environment - a child's toy floating down the hallway, a cup of tea on the bedside table clouding the water around it, bedsheets billowing in the current, the woman's long hair moving languidly like strands of seaweed - are accompanied by a voiceover, which explains: "You'd think you'd wake in a house fire, wouldn't you? But just two to three breaths of toxic smoke and you're unconscious. Your lungs fill up, just like drowning." The shot cuts to the same couple in bed but enveloped by a raging fire as the voiceover encourages viewers to test their fire alarms on a regular basis.

Creative agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Creative team: Mike Boles, Jerry Hollens

Client: David Watson

Production company: Blink

Director: Dougal Wilson


This campaign for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, launched in conjunction with a high-profile government PR initiative, seeks to give a voice to vulnerable children and adults while also spearheading a drive to recruit more than 5,000 social workers. The ads feature well-known performers taking on the voices of people in vulnerable situations - and depicting the emotional force of their testimonies. The films are designed to help people think again about what social workers do and to encourage people who think they could make a difference to apply to train as a social worker. A wider recruitment drive by the Children's Workforce Development Council will follow. As well as supporting recruitment, the Government is committed to making sure that social workers have the training, support and capacity they need to practice to the highest professional standard.

Creative agency: COI

Creative team: Kevin Colquhoun, Gregor Findlay

Client: Karen Smalley

Production company: COI

Director: Ben Quinn


These cleverly written spots were created specifically and uniquely to run in one programming environment - Hollyoaks. The challenge was to devise an innovative campaign for the launch of O2 Money's Load & Go that would strongly appeal to the core Hollyoaks audience by referencing up-to-the-minute storylines from the programme. So there are 20 executions - and in themselves they become a sort of parallel soap to Hollyoaks - but the two ditzy shop assistants featured here are clearly fans of the programme and refer to it directly and indirectly. There is, after all, a TV set on the shop's counter. "It's all going off at the Dog," says the boy, who can barely tear himself away, at the start of one spot. Or, similarly engrossed and outraged: "Don't go anywhere near her Steve! She just wants your kid! Think of its future!" The main objective was to drive viewers online to find out more about Load & Go.

Creative agency: The Outfit

Creative team: Niall Murdoch, Charlie Read

Client: Will Kemble-Clarkson

Production company: Academy Content

Director: Gordon Anderson


The aim here was to celebrate the British public's relationship with McDonald's and remind everyone of the things that they love about the brand. Based on observations everyone can relate to and the emotional as well as the practical roles that McDonald's can play in people's lives, this film observes customers from all walks of life visiting a restaurant at varying times of the day and night, and highlights how these different people enjoy their experiences. Backed by a voiceover delivered in a verse-form reminiscent of the warm and humorous work of a popular performance poet such as Roger McGough, the rich tapestry includes a gang of workmen in reflector jackets and hard hats; "IT bods, writing their blogs"; ladies on a hen night; and, of course, a children's party. The campaign promotes the message: "There's a McDonald's for everyone."

Creative agency: Leo Burnett

Creative team: Jim Bolton, Tony Malcolm, Guy Moore

Client: Jill McDonald

Production company: Moxie Pictures

Director: Neil Gorringe


This spot parodies the vacuous pseudo-profound gibberish that some advertisers in the telecoms and IT world sometimes find themselves succumbing to. The tone is set as the ad opens with a tracking shot pulling in to a fearsomely sincere couple sitting on a bench by a tree-fringed placid lake. "We want to live in a world where we communicate with everybody ... and nobody," they intone in unison. Other examples of the genre follow in quick succession - but the psycho-techno-babble is eventually punctured by a Welsh bloke who says that, to be honest, he just wants unlimited mobile use for £30 a month. Which, of course, Tesco is able to provide. The brief was to use the launch of an unlimited tariff as a means to raise the broader awareness and credibility of Tesco mobile as a network provider, while positioning the brand as a no-nonsense alternative to the major networks.

Creative agency: The Red Brick Road

Creative team: Sam Cartmell, Jason Lawes

Client: Ash Schofield

Production company: MJZ London

Director: Jim Gilchrist