Top 10 outdoor ads of 2015

Carlsberg's beer giveway, the Tories, McDonald's emojis: which campaign won outdoor advertising this year?

1. Carlsberg ‘probably the best poster in the world’

The best poster in the world? On finding a Carlsberg billboard dispensing free beer, visitors to the Truman Brewery in London’s Brick Lane in April would probably think so. It was a neat way of grabbing some PR for a brand with mileage to make up on its rivals while giving a new lease of life to its famous "Probably the best…" tagline, which was revived by Carlsberg this year after being dropped in 2011. But just in case the advertising went to anybody’s head, drinkers were limited to one beer, with a security guard on hand to keep order.

Agency: Fold7
Creative: John Yorke

2. Conservative Party ‘pocket Miliband’

Ahead of the general election, it was fashionable to declare the death of the political poster – and it’s true that they have become less campaigns, more one-off PR stunts. But as one-off PR stunts go, the powerful poster of a small Ed Miliband nestled in the pocket of an enormous and rather smug-looking Alex Salmond was a belter. 

Agency: M&C Saatchi
Creatives: Simon Dicketts, Bill Gallacher

3. Women’s Aid ‘look at me’

Harnessing the latest outdoor technology to help tackle domestic violence proved an all-round success. Not only did the campaign capture a Cannes gold Lion, it also generated more than 86 million Twitter impressions. Running on digital screens at Canary Wharf and Westfield in London and Birmingham’s Bullring, the ads used facial recognition technology to show a battered woman’s wounds heal as more people stopped to look at them. 

Agency: WCRS
Creatives: Ben Robinson, Mike Whiteside

4. Three ‘#MakeItRight’

Jackson, the downtrodden Muppet character, fronted a campaign that used all outdoor’s versatility in support of attempts by the mobile operator to dispel perceived myths about its services and tempt customers away from rivals. Kicking off on key poster sites, the campaign also included a statue of Jackson that emitted Wi-Fi in areas where it was not available and digital dispensers offering free mobile charger packs at bus stops. 

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Creatives: Bertie Scrase, Christen Bresrup

5. Mr Kipling ‘Easter is better with cake’

Mr Kipling is an astonishing brand. For one thing, it is a testament to the genius of Stephen King, one of planning’s founding fathers who led the team that invented the cake line in the 60s when Rank Hovis McDougall asked J Walter Thompson how it might make more money from flour. For another, JWT has done a consistently good job of implying a heritage for a brand where none actually exists. This effort, in which a Bakewell tart appears as the Easter bunny, is one of the latest examples.

Agency: J Walter Thompson London
Creatives: James Hobbs, Jeremy Little, Will Wright, James Lucking

6. McDonald’s ‘emojis’

The Campaign Big award judges gave a gold to this series of minimalist ads using emojis – the world’s fastest-growing digital language – extolling the restorative powers of a McDonald’s meal. However, the fast-food giant was not lovin’ the prankster in Bristol who cleverly added a vomiting emoji to one of its posters.

Agency: Leo Burnett London
Creatives: Wayne Robinson, Matt Collier

7. Lucozade ‘find your flow’

Not just a big, bold and colourful outdoor digital campaign that ran across Primesight’s 48-sheet poster network, but also one that matched well with radio spots and a TV ad in the first major push for the Lucozade Energy brand since Suntory acquired it in 2013. The imagery provides a powerful evocation of the part the drink plays in making people feel on top form. Running in tandem with radio, the campaign’s aim was to allow drivers to see and hear promotions while they were travelling.

Agency: Grey London
Creatives: Alex Tizard, Jonathan Rands

8. Domestos ‘holiday’s over’

The Domestos germs have always had an image problem. Sometimes they have seemed too cute to kill, and at other times they have been so repulsive you can barely look at them. With the help of the award-winning Bangkok design studio Illusion, this year’s campaign puts the characters in holiday mode – posing poolside, taking a selfie and frolicking on a lilo. The ads capture the attention through humour and charm but don’t stop you wanting to zap the germs themselves with Domestos.

Agency: DLKW Lowe
Creatives: Katrina Encanto, Edgar Galang

9. Amnesty International ‘the-really-big-and-far-reaching-ad-campaign-they-never-really-wanted-you-to-see’

The London Arms Fair isn’t much like the Ideal Home Show. But Amnesty International treated it as such in a spoof poster campaign mocking the annual gathering where, according to the charity, nasty items such as cluster bombs and leg irons are featured and representatives of governments with dodgy human rights records attend.

Agency: VCCP
Creatives: Chris Birch, Jonny Parker

10. Whyte & Mackay ‘lion’

A coiffeured lion with combed whiskers clasping a dram in his paw fronts BJL’s first work on Whyte & Mackay since the Manchester agency was awarded the account in July. Abandoning the "heather and weather" shots that often characterise the sector, BJL drafted in the animal photographer and digital artist Tim Flach to change drinkers’ perceptions of the whisky with the "surprisingly smooth" theme.

Agency: BJL
Creatives: Paul Kinsella, Tom Richards