Campaign's Annual 2017 shows that the best creativity can follow adversity
A view from Rachel Barnes

Campaign's Annual 2017 shows that the best creativity can follow adversity

Within this year's Annual you'll find a sea of brilliance: incredible companies, work, ideas, strategy, craft, and some of the finest talent from right across the marketing and media industry.

What better way to see out 2017 than with a mother of all depressing Budgets. We’re to expect the longest sustained period of falling living standards since the 1950s and two decades worth of lost wage growth, all thanks to a downgrade in productivity growth. Woohoo, Merry Christmas!

Not even John Lewis’ friendly monster can stave off the bah humbug, with a former children’s laureate detracting from the fuzzy, feel-good festive fun with the claim that he thought of this universal tale first. Anyone else have that feeling of needing to hunker down and just see out the year?

However, before we drink ourselves into a Buck’s Fizz oblivion over the coming weeks, we need to remember why we’re in this business. Take a moment to look through this issue and appreciate all that’s been achieved in 2017.

No spoilers here, but within this year’s Annual you’ll find a sea of brilliance: incredible companies, work, ideas, strategy, craft, and some of the finest talent from right across the marketing and media industry who make up the sharp leaders in this business. Hey, Time Magazine called to say you’re all PROBABLY going to be named heroes of the year!

Some categories were easily decided, others more drawn-out, impassioned debates. And although the jury – Campaign’s fine team of journalists – was often split, we concluded the judging with confidence in our choices.

A new award this year is our Creative Grand Prix, where all the winners of our work categories – from radio to outdoor, digital innovation to live experiences – are contenders, all exemplars of best-in-class creativity.

All the work, companies and people featuring in this Annual give me hope for the year ahead, despite the gloomy backdrop. While October’s IPA Bellwether report revealed 70% of UK marketing budgets were frozen as economic uncertainty gripped the country, that paralysis is not evident here. Is it a full-bodied vintage year? Maybe not. Nevertheless, this magazine is overflowing with awesomeness.

In the face of adversity, the best creative work can follow. It’s the theory of the power of creative constraint, where our limited resources lead us to answers we’d never have found in times of abundance. 

Whether you buy into that or not (it does have a whiff of post-rationalising cost-cutting, don’t you think?), now is the time to embrace it.

If the Budget forecasts are accurate, then everyone could find themselves tested on this front for years to come, with less money in the majority of consumers’ pockets likely to translate to tightened marketing budgets. 

Again, companies will face the dilemma of investing or cutting back: the brands and businesses who emerge strongest are often those who invest through the tricky times, or at least get smart about where they’re targeting that spend. Initiatives once deemed soft or fluffy, such as diversity and staff wellbeing, are no longer nice-to-haves and will remain front and centre on the agenda.

Perhaps we can think of 2017 as the warm-up act for a new era of marketing. As we settle into the age of certainty of uncertainty, we have a new-normal to grow from. Perhaps it’s the first mince-pie of the season giving me a festive fuzz, but I believe that The Annual 2017 is an indicator that we have extraordinary talent leading us into 2018 and on to better times. • 

Rachel Barnes is the UK editor of Campaign. 
@rachelmrbarnes

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