The top 5 TV ads helping us discover what's possible

A view from Academy member

James Ross-Edwards, creative director, Mother

What an interesting time capsule this batch of ads will make one day.

They feel particularly unique to this moment in that the sample set of five features a spectrum of produced-pre-lockdown, produced-post-lockdown and (I presume) somewhere-in-the-middle.

I still haven't fully calibrated my thoughts on big brands running pandemic-based advertising. Cynical? Maybe. Touching? Inevitably.

Mostly I just watch and think about the creative process and how - if nothing else - we've learnt what incredible things are possible with iPhone cameras, wifi and a bunch of enthusiastic heads on a Zoom call.

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 - March/April 2020

1. Lurpak 'Where there are cooks, there is hope'

Building on the brand’s reputation as the Champion of Good Food, this campaign from Lurpak reminds us that every moment in the kitchen is an opportunity to make a difference.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London Creative team: Tom Bender, Tom Corcoran, Sophie Bodoh, Scott Dungate, Carlos Alija, Laura Sampedro Client: Christian Fischer Production company: Somesuch Director: Kim Gehrig

2. McDonald's 'Night workers'

There’s a whole community of dedicated people working throughout the night who often go unnoticed.

In this campaign, clearly shot in pre-pandemic times, we follow a cavalcade of "invisible" staff  and watch as the work they do is seen - putting food on supermarket shelves, tucking in hospital patients and so on - but not the individuals themselves. Finally, three night workers come into plain view and gain recognition in McDonald’s, reminding everyone that "If you’re aware, we’re awake".

Agency: Leo Burnett London Creative team: Chaka Sobhani, Pete Heyes, Rory Hall, Steph Ellis, Lou Pegg Client: Ben Fox Production company: Rogue Films Director: Sam Brown

3. Tena 'Ageless'

We are invited into the bedrooms of women in various stages of undress who talk of their feelings about sensuality and sex. They are confident, comfortable in their own skin and owning their experience. Then we hear they are also incontinent. Does it change our view? It doesn’t change theirs - and that’s the point.

The women were over 55 and real people. The fact that some viewers might find the revelation uncomfortable is deliberate, with the aim of challenging the male gaze and ageist stereotypes.

Agency: AMV BBDO Creative team: Clark Edwards, Andre Hull, Julia Merino, Verity Fenner Client: Jason Kaplanis Production company: Merman Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

4. Tesco 'Food Love Stories: Dedications'

Food has always played a powerful role in connecting people. Now, more than ever, we are all in need of nourishment, of body and soul.

Here, Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, rallies real members of the public to make food and dedicate it to the ones they love. It’s part of the retailer’s #FoodLoveStories campaign. And, in case it all gets a bit too saccharine, there’s a dash of toddler honesty thrown in at the end to raise a smile.

Agency: BBH Creative team: Oliver Short, Jennifer Ashton, Tom Drew Client: Alicia Southgate Production company: Black Sheep Studios

5. Virgin Media 'Stay home, stay safe, stay connected'

Lockdown means different things to different people but there are a few common denominators - it’s important to stay in touch with loved ones and, oh, we need the internet.

In this campaign, Virgin Media takes us on a virtual journey into people’s lockdown lairs and celebrates the ingenious, resilient and heart-warming ways people have been keeping connected. From staying fit, achieving sporting glory, keeping the pub quiz alive, playing chess, finding love and comforting one another.

Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB Creative team: Tim Vance, Paul Knott  Client: Katie Kinchin-Smith 

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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