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Epic and funny are back! Chaka Sobhani on the latest Thinkboxes shortlist

We ask one Thinkbox Academy member to cast her eyes over the best TV creative from the last two months. Stand out spots from Audi, BT Sport, Halifax, Tena Men and the NHS make up the latest Thinkboxes shortlist.

A view from Academy Member

Chaka Sobhani, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett

The epic is well and truly back! And, more importantly, so is the funny. Or so one would believe if this great selection of films is anything to go by.

From the rug pull of Audi’s ‘Escape’ to the cheeky play of BT Sport, from the Ghostbusters homage of Halifax to the mad surrealism of TENA Men, it’s great to see such confident humour back and in such big, diverse and dramatic ways.

I’m sure it’s in part a reaction to our current climate, and possibly the trend of purpose or experiment-type campaigns (which still have a place btw!), but I think we all, creators and audiences alike, couldn’t be more in need of some joy and pure blast entertainment to lift our hearts and make us smile.

Which, by the way, in no means takes anything away from the simply beautiful "We are the NHS". Still joyous at heart, tears rolled down my face watching this one. As any of us who have experienced the miracle that is the NHS and these truly exceptional people, I couldn’t feel prouder or more humbled.

Hats off to all involved.


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 2018

1. Audi "Escape"

The brief here was to make Audi technology playful and thrilling – and the agency came up with an homage to the martial arts genre, with a sprawling gang fight breaking out on the streets of Bangkok. Our hero, escaping the attention of a terrifying adversary, hides in the back seat of an Audi A8 – and there’s no way he’s going back out into the mayhem when he can lie back with a chilled glass of champagne while enjoying a foot massage.

Creative agency: BBH London Creative team: Ian Heartfield, Marc Rayson, Callum Prior Client: Laura Brennan Production company: MJZ Director: Matthijs van Heijningen

2.BT Sport "Take Them All On"

As a child, every sports fan imagines taking on his or her sporting heroes – a notion that BT brings to life in a spot showing 9-year-old Charlotte beating an impressive array of big names. She bamboozles Gareth Bale, nutmegs Dele Alli, flattens Sam Warburton and smashes Johanna Konta, before dashing home to watch some more action on TV. The aim was to illustrate the full range of BT Sport’s sporting rights while underlining its commitment to emotional and engaging storytelling.

Creative agency:AMV BBDO Creative team: Rob Messeter, Mike Crowe Client: Jon Crownshaw Production company: Sonny Director: Fredrik Bond

3. Essity - TENA Men "Odyssey"

A suitably light-hearted spot follows one man’s epic globetrotting mission to find the secret to life – or, at the very least, discover an elegant method for dealing with urine leakage. His quest takes him into the presence of a mountain-top guru who tells him the answer – get a pair of TENA Men Active Fit pants. And you don’t have to schlep around the world to lay your hands on them either. You can buy them online. Oh well – you live and learn.

Creative agency: AMV BBDO Creative team: Jeremy Tribe, Prabhu Wignarajah, Toby Allen, Jim Hilson  Client: Oscar Ayala Production company: Biscuit Filmworks Director: Jeff Low

4. Halifax "Ghostbusters Contactless"

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The bank’s previous commercial saw it having a bit of playful fun with The Wizard of Oz, edited to make it look like Dorothy was applying for a mortgage. The follow-up sees Ghostbusters getting the Halifax treatment, with post-production wizardry used to turn the film into a knockabout tale about the virtues of the contactless Visa debit card. Halifax manager Greg is "slimed" by a ghost and the Ghostbusters team is impressed at the contact he’s made – but he tells them he prefers contactless.

Creative agency: adam&eveDDB Creative team: Ben Tollett, Paul Angus, Ted Heath Client: Tim Male Production company: Another Director: Declan Lowley

5. NHS "We are the NHS"

Working for the NHS is no ordinary job – as this inspirational recruitment spot makes eminently clear. A slickly-edited montage of everyday scenes from the nation’s hospitals and clinics gives us a rich portrait of patient care – from childbirth to old age and all points in between. It aims not just to show real people and real moments from all walks of nursing life but also more broadly to evoke the pride so many of us feel about our national health service.

Creative agency: MullenLowe London Creative team: Lovisa Silburn, Hugh Todd, Mark Elwood Client: Ian Hampton Production company: RSA Films Director:Toby Dye

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 – 150 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, Turner Media Innovations 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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