Seriousness, style and fast-food humour: 5 top TV ads

A view from Academy member

Natalie Hill, co-founder, Arthur and Martha

The dark mornings are lifting and there is a faint sign of spring in the air. What better time to sit down with a cup of tea and review the January/February Thinkboxes shortlist: a heady mixture of seriousness, style and fast-food humour.

What we love about this industry is that, when the storyline and creative hit their mark, the results can truly speak to people on an emotional level, informing and influencing opinion for the greater good.

Or, in the case of a couple of the selected works, they are simply great fun and a joy to watch again and again.

Stick the kettle on, make a brew and check out these wonderful ads. All of them memorable and all reward repeated viewing.

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 2020

1. Department for Education 'Tuesday'

This atmospheric and stylishly edited narrative portrays a day in the life of Addison Brown, an inspirational science teacher from Bedford High School in Leigh, Greater Manchester. We witness his highs and (occasional) lows as he cajoles, challenges and reassures his pupils – ultimately showing what a rewarding career teaching can be. The brief was to illustrate the unique nature of the job – full of colour, creativity, vibrancy and variety – and bring to life the fact that no two school days are the same.

Agency: Havas London Creative team: Sam Turk, Paul Robbins, Lynsey Atkin Client: The Department for Education Production company: Pulse Films Director: 32 

2. Ecover 'Laundry Against Landfill'

We start on a tight shot of Professor Green's vibrating face… then, as we pull back, and the man begins to speak in a shaking voice, we realise he’s vibrating because he’s sitting on a washing machine on spin cycle. In the background, there’s a symbolic shower of clothing – underpinning the message that, with almost 1,000 items of clothing going to landfill every thirty seconds in the UK alone, fashion waste is hurting our planet. We can – and should – be less extravagant. 

Agency: Uncommon London Creative team: Uncommon Creative Studio Client: Sara Mendez Production company: Biscuit Filmworks Director: The Glue Society

3. Starbucks 'What’s Your Name'

Channel 4 has been urging the industry to up its game this year through its Diversity in Advertising Award by encouraging the authentic representation of the LGBT+ community. Starbucks rises to the challenge, winning this year’s award with an ad that plays deftly on its "signature" method of managing customer service – writing customers’ names on their cups. It tells the story of James, who’s in transition: he’s constantly addressed by the birth name he no longer identifies with – until the moment he’s asked for his name for the first time in a Starbucks.

Agency: Iris Creative team: Eli Vasiliou, Richard Peretti, Grant Hunter, Matt Gray Client: Neil Littler Production company: Sweetshop Director: Nicholas Jack Davies

4. NatWest 'This Is How We Do It'

You’re never too young to start good habits with money – and NatWest’s free financial education programme, MoneySense, aims to help 5-18-year-olds learn to feel more money-confident. The launch ad, set to a rousing backing track, "This is how we do it" by Montel Jordan, shows the elation a girl feels as she swipes the £1 deposit coin from her dad’s shopping trolley at the supermarket… and the "Oh, did you get that pound love?" disappointment she feels when he asks for it back.

Agency: The&Partnership Creative team: Micky Tudor, Yan Elliot, Kate Allsop, Howard Green, Tom Loveless, Matt Wood Client: Emma Isaac Production company: Blink Productions Director: The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide

5. Uber Eats 'Leslie'

Guz Khan plays an irrepressible Uber Eats delivery guy here, bringing a surreal and anarchic sense of fun to an open-plan office as he delivers a marinara meatball sub to a slightly bemused office worker. Working off twin computer monitors, she’s clearly under pressure and is having to snatch a bite of lunch at her desk – Uber Eats shows us how the service doesn’t just help workers make the most of their day, it also delivers a sense of fun.

Agency: Mother Creative team: Mother Client: Maya Gallego Spiers Production company: Rogue Director: Stacy Wall

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, 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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