Top 10 press ads of 2015

A campaign tackling female genital mutilation, a nod to James Bond, and more of the best press ads from the year

1. Oreo ‘Oreo eclipse’

As part of the wider "play with Oreo" campaign, the Mondelez International cookie brand created tactical activity to celebrate the 2015 solar eclipse. Central to the work was a black translucent coverwrap for The Sun – a first for the News UK tabloid. In the playful creative, an Oreo biscuit takes the place of the moon covering the sun. The gloomy cover emulates the darkness created by the eclipse. PHD devised the activity, with creative by FCB Inferno and Drum. PHD claims it had the biggest-ever translucent-cover print run.

Agency: FCB Inferno
Creative: Diogo Tovar

2. 28 Too Many ‘it happens here’

The charity 28 Too Many’s print and outdoor campaign sent a stark message that female genital mutilation is an issue that affects people in the UK and across Europe, not just women and girls in Africa. Ogilvy & Mather London created the work, which comprised posters with European country flags shoddily sewn together. 

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Creatives: Laura Rogers, Trevallyn Hall

3. NHS Blood and Transplant ‘missing type’

The letters A, O and B went "missing" from places and brands, including the Downing Street sign and Campaign’s masthead, in this innovative campaign. Ahead of National Blood Week during 8-14 June, NHS Blood and Transplant persuaded several high-profile brands to remove the letters from their name to raise awareness of blood donation and the blood types that are particularly low in stock. The activity generated a reach of more than two billion and prompted more than 30,000 sign-ups to give blood in the first week.

Agency: Engine
Creatives: Jules Chalkley, Mark Perkins, Tom Dixon, Jo Griffin 

4. Temptations ‘pack attack’

Fifteen cats were let loose on a box of Temptations cat treats to highlight product irresistibility. The resulting mauled packets were photographed to create this clever press campaign. The work was extended through a behind-the-scenes online video showing the cats ravaging the packaging. On social media, people were encouraged to share their cat’s ravaged packages with the hashtag #packattack.

Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB
Creatives: Richard Brim, Daniel Fisher

5. Karma Nirvana ‘suffocation’

This shocking ad, which escaped a ban by the Advertising Standards Authority after six complaints from distressed readers, won a silver Design Lion at Cannes. The campaign included a mocked-up front cover of Cosmopolitan, which featured a woman’s face being suffocated by a plastic bag. The copy explained that the woman in the image, named Shafilea, was "brutally suffocated by her own parents in an ‘honour’ killing" and encouraged support with the hashtag #RememberShafilea. The ad, which also featured in Metro, was made for the UK charity Karma Nirvana. 

Agency: Leo Burnett
Creatives: Phillip Meyler, Darren Keff

6. BMW 3 Series ‘the driver’s car since 1975’

For the 40th anniversary of the launch of BMW’s 3 Series, FCB Inferno’s nostalgia-inspired activity referenced significant moments in culture over the past four decades and corresponding information about the 3 Series, while the art direction used colours and typography that represent different eras. 

Agency: FCB Inferno
Creatives: Simon Cenamor, Ben Edwards, Adam Booker

7. Sudafed ‘heavy heads’ 

J Walter Thompson London created a series of striking print ads that showed how everyone feels from time to time – when you’re so sick that you feel like you literally have to carry around your swollen, bunged-up head. The ads showed ill-looking employees with giant heads looking miserable in the setting of a drab nondescript office environment.

Agency: J Walter Thompson London
Creatives: Andy Smith, Ryan Lawson

8. Kit Kat ‘Bond’

You couldn’t move in October for brands releasing big-budget campaigns inspired or linked to the 24th Bond film, Spectre. Kit Kat arguably outplayed them all with a carefully art directed long-copy ad listing the major Bond girls from the franchise’s 53 years in black text. Playing on the chocolate brand’s long-running "Have a break, have a Kit Kat" strapline, red text then asks: "Time for a break, James?" The execution – which shows the influence of the talented Dave Dye, who arrived this year as JWT’s head of art – ran in press and outdoor sites in London.

Agency: J Walter Thompson London
Creatives: Alex Ball, Ronnie Vlcek

9. Greenpeace ‘Trick. No treat’

As tactical press ads go, this one hit the mark with gusto. Greenpeace has long been campaigning against Volkswagen – perhaps most famously in 2013, when it created a Star Wars parody video. The film went viral after the car company said it could not reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions. On the day before Halloween this year, not long after the emissions scandal broke, Greenpeace produced a print ad featuring a smoke-belching pumpkin with the VW sign carved into it. The copy explained: "They tricked us. Now Volkswagen should treat us." The reader was then urged to sign a petition to support the pressure group’s campaign.

Agency: In-house
Creative: n/a

10. Below the Belt ‘Djockitch?’

Jonathan Durden, the PHD co-founder who launched a male-grooming brand last year, achieved a marketing coup during this year’s Wimbledon tennis fortnight with a Novak Djokovic pun. This ad appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 3 July, two days after a heatwave in London, when men might be in particular need of Below the Belt products, which are designed to keep male genitals fresh and dry.

Agency: In-house
Creative: Jonathan Durden