St Luke's Richard Denny goes all 'Coco the Clown' over the Thinkboxes shortlist

We ask a Thinkbox Academy member to cast their eyes over the best TV creative from the last two months. Stand out spots from Audi, Marmite, MoneySuperMarket, Sainsbury's and Warburtons make up the September/October shortlist.

A view from Academy Member...

Richard Denney, executive creative director, St Luke’s

This shortlist gave me a grin bigger than Coco the Clown’s. Having seen them all on telly I knew every spot without having to re-view them.

If I was in the market for a new car, Audi’s reminder of the foolish drivers on our roads (and that they have the technology to protect me from them) would place them first for a test drive. A masterclass in insight and execution.

I’m a Marmite lover and their latest creation has made that love grow even stronger. The gene test kit is such a brilliant, contagious idea and the use of TV to promote it is hilarious.

Massive props also to the Warburtons crew for taking their script writing to the next level, Pride and Breadjudice felt more like a comedy show than a TV ad.

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


1. Audi "Clowns"

We’ve always known there are lots of clowns out there on the roads. Now, backed by an appropriate soundtrack – Sondheim’s "Send in the Clowns" – Audi brings this to life by showing classic circus clowns in full slapstick make-up doing chronically stupid things in gaily-painted clown cars, with potentially calamitous outcomes for other drivers. In an Audi, though, you’re always just that little bit safer – its sensors and braking systems will help protect you from the dangerous antics of thoughtless road-users.

Creative agency: BBH London Creative team: Ian Heartfield, Doug Fridlund, Mikael Alcock Client: Kelly Palmer Production company: Rattling Stick Director: Ringan Ledwidge

2. Marmite "Gene Project"

A montage, here, of people receiving test results – and breaking the (often harrowing) news to loved ones. The twist is that they’ve all undergone a "genetic" test to find out if, by hereditary inclination, they’re Marmite lovers or haters. Either way, it’s the sort of revelation that may tear a family apart – and a suitably solemn Elgar soundtrack adds to the comedic effect as our families are forced to confront some home truths. As the endline has it: "Test it for yourself."

Creative agency: Adam&eveDDB Creative team: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim, Till Diestel, Nick Sheppard, Tom Webber Clients: Andre Burger, Philippa Atkinson Production company: Outsider TV Director: James Rouse

3. MoneySuperMarket "Epic lift"

He-Man and Skeletor return to feature in another MoneySuperMarket spot – and this time they’re paying homage to the final scene from the 1980s film classic, Dirty Dancing. They might be sworn enemies in Masters of the Universe, but now that they’ve saved lots of money – and therefore feel epic – they’re able to put their differences aside and dance together in a bar. And of course it wouldn’t be complete without a flamboyant version of the most famous dancing lift in film history.

Creative agency: Mother Creative team: Mother Client: Philippa Heywood Production company: Blink Director: The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide

4. Sainsbury’s "What’s For Dinner?"

Texting takes centre stage here – we see tired, hungry commuters on their way home from their busy days in town, messaging their partners to begin planning the evening meal. It’s an important part of the daily routine – the thought of some lovely grub is like a light at the end of a dark tunnel – and Sainsbury’s helps liven up the whole business with specially-created emojis and GIFs, available to download from the site or your app store.

Creative agency: Wieden+Kennedy London Creative team: Anders Stake, Sophie Bodoh, Scott Dungate, Joris Philipart, Tomas Coleman, Clarence Bradley Client: Donna Murray-Clark Production company: Iconoclast Director: Mees Peijnenburg

5. Warburtons "Pride and Breadjudice"

In order, supposedly, to celebrate Warburton’s 141st anniversary, Peter Kay gives us a lampoon of a TV costume drama – Jane Austen meets the Bronte sisters. It’s an epic tale of "passion, flour and a woman stood on an ‘ill" – a case of Pride and Breadjudice, no less – recounting how Kay (playing the current Mr Warburton’s great grandfather) wins out over his love rivals using "suggestive kneading" and an uncanny knowledge of the tasty sorts of seeds you can use in baking bread.

Creative agency: WCRS Creative team: Billy Faithfull, Andy Lee, Jonny Porthouse, Freya Harrison, Gina Ramsden

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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