Laura Jordan Bambach on TV ads to kickstart 2021

A view from Academy Member

Laura Jordan Bambach, chief creative officer, Grey London

It has been a week of hope in the UK – we have some maybe-dates for lockdown ending, COVID rates are down and the kids are going back to school.

We even had a taste of spring, even if it was only for a few days. So things are looking up. I’ve even been on a socially distanced long walk in the park with one of my Grey crew. It’s a tiny taste of normal after months of effectively hiding in a box.

The world has certainly gotten smaller, more domestic, for a lot of us. Our workplaces have changed for good (for the better) our sources of inspiration too (for the worse right now) and we’ve lost some amazing people along the way. Gratitude, hope and a chance to smile are everything.

That’s why On the Beach’s 'Someday' is a star for me. It is simple, has beautiful writing and Iggy Pop. Bring on 21st June and get me to the beach. Also full of the good stuff, Virgin Media’s ‘Faster Brings Us Closer’ shows gaming take centre stage alongside a delightful and heart-warming story.

It has been a while since I cried for an ad but Macmillan’s ‘Whatever it takes’ choked me up so much I lost my voice on Microsoft Teams and had to apologise for my tears. Halifax’s ‘It’s a People Thing’ has some sweet moments that really strike a chord. Talking about life’s negatives as well as positives feels refreshing and modern.

Finally, it’s great to see Quickbooks’ ‘We Mean Business for Your Business’ having fun with a product that can be complicated to explain. If 2021 is the year that humour comes back into advertising, I’m glad for it.

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

The Thinkboxes shortlist - January/February 2021

1. Halifax 'It's A People Thing'

Set on a single UK street, this ad takes us through different moments in the lives of the people who live there, as they happen at the same time. Some things are joyous, others are sad or frustrating, but they all represent the fabric of life within the communities that Halifax supports. The ‘It’s a people thing’ campaign sets out the bank’s new brand positioning, built around the simple belief that banking at its heart is people helping people.

Agency: New Commercial Arts Creative team: Loriley Sessions, Charlotte Prince, Ian Heartfield, Nici Hofer Client: Victoria Handley Production company: Pulse Director: ThirtyTwo

2. Macmillan "Whatever It Takes"

With Covid-19 disrupting everything, Macmillan’s role in supporting those who face the daily challenges and triumphs of living with cancer are more vital than ever. In this stirring spot, the grit, skill, ingenuity, humour and tenderness of Macmillan’s staff, day in, day out, is brought into full focus - though you might find something in your eye blurs your vision as the ad progresses.

Agency: AMV BBDO Creative team: Andy Clough, Rich McGrann, Benjamin Polkinghorne, Scott Kelly  Client: Jo Juber Production company: Iconoclast Director: Jonathan Alric

3. On The Beach 'Someday'

As stockpiling toilet roll and clapping for our carers fades into a distant memory, beach holiday experts On The Beach want to deliver a message of hope for 2021 - and to let people know that the beaches are ready when they are. We see hordes of hopeful people running down a beach towards the water in slow motion while Iggy Pop voices what they might be feeling and hoping for from their holiday - including an early drink.

Agency: Uncommon Creative team: Nils Leonard, Sam Walker Client: Steve Seddon Production company: Pulse Director  Sam Walker

4. Quickbooks 'We Mean Business For Your Business'

“No-one needs wet fish on their team” - even if they are a fish ‘n’ chip shop. That’s the rallying cry of the passionate and hard-nosed team of tiny businesspeople who fit into the pocket of small-business owners and are on call to take care of their financial management around the clock. The team of tinies are, of course, a metaphor for the digital tools offered by financial management software company Intuit Quickbooks. All committed to “smashing the battered sausage out of this financial quarter”.

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London Creative team: Tony Davidson, Iain Tait, Hollie Walker, Cal Al-Jorani, Francesca Van Haverbeke, Florence Poppy Deary Client: Alicia Skubick Production company: Blink Director: Nick Ball

5. Virgin Media 'Faster Brings Us Closer'

There’s been a pandemic-induced rise in online gaming - and also stories of gamers finding real love in virtual worlds. In this ad, an old fashioned love story between two students is played out in a new fashioned, fast-internet world. The message: Virgin Media’s faster internet brings us closer even when we can’t meet in person.

Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB  Creative team: Tim Vance, Paul Knott, Edward Usher, Xander Hart Client: Samantha Codrington  Production company: Academy Director: Frederic Planchon

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 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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