TV’s winter warmers

The Thinkbox Academy will vote for the Thinkboxes Award winner from these five TV spots

A view from Academy Member

Jonny Parker, executive creative director, VCCP

Right now, I’m on the early train to work. It’s mega packed, everyone looks angry, there are no seats and I haven’t had a cucumber all weekend.

I need a pick-me-up. The guy in his nice comfy seat giving me the stink eye for standing and typing needs a pick-me-up. We all need a pick-me-up.

Luckily for me, I’ve been sent five absolute belters to lift my spirits.

Thank you AJ Bell for your “The Sweet Sound of Investing”. It’s anarchic, it’s stupid. Who knew banking was such a laugh? And what a tune for a Monday morning. Ring my bell, AJ. Love it.

Will the next one raise a smile? Hell, yes. McDonald’s is raising eyebrows set to another joyous piece of music. It’s been an age since we made big, bombastic silliness. And you just know the clever visual eyebrow raising mechanic is gonna catch on.

Come on NHS England. What you got? A cancer prevention ad that talks about poo samples. It doesn’t get more gloomy than that but, hello, what’s this? It’s a middle-aged man doing an athletic ribbon dance with bog roll. I’m smiling again. Well bloody done.

Next up is Secret Escapes. Two smug gits on a beach. Is that cucumber slices in their cocktails? Instant FOMO. I hate them. But, hang on a minute. They’ve just done a funny. And it’s really funny.

Last up. Dogs Trust. I know this isn’t a comic masterpiece. But as we stop at Clapham Junction for even more angry people to crush on, this lovely heart-warming piece of storytelling gives me a nice fuzzy warm feeling.

Well done everyone. It seems happiness is back on the menu. And God knows we need it now more than ever.

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 2023

1. AJ Bell “The Sweet Sound of Investing”

A re-worked version of the song Ring My Bell accompanies this feel-good investing spot for AJ Bell – an attempt to stand out in a market where research shows 15% of current investors are unable to recall the name of their platform provider. Examples of feel-good bell-themed experiences that follow range from magic tricks and an exciting game of chess to bridal bellringers and a bell weightlifter. Like the brand itself, it’s all about making the complex simple and the mundane fun.

Pablo Creative team: Dan Watts, executive creative director; Charlie Gee & Tian Murphy, creative directors; Charlie Gee & Tian Murphy / Chris Bovill & John Allison, creatives Client: Charlie Musson, brand and PR director Production company: Agile Films Director: Zac Ella

2. Dogs Trust “Ground Dog Day”

The joy dogs bring is at the heart of this spot for Dogs Trust. The film highlights the vital role dog and owner play in each other’s lives against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, during which thousands of dogs are given away each week as owners can no longer afford them. Thanks goodness, then, for Dogs Trust – which is on hand to do whatever it can to keep them together long before the crisis point of rehoming is ever reached.

Agency: VCCP Creative team: Stephen Misir, Javier Romartinez, Matt Lloyd Client: Nick Daniel, marketing director Production company: Sweetshop Director: Nicolas Jack Davis

3. McDonald’s “Raise Your Arches”

Who needs words? In this spot, arches drawn on a sticky note and raised eyebrows – in the shape of arches – are enough to signal workers’ intent to visit the home of the Golden Arches for lunch: McDonald’s. As the music builds, a mass exodus of eyebrow-twitching office workers ensues. The message is simple: an invitation to grab a McDonald’s is so universal it can be communicated without uttering a single word.

Agency: Leo Burnett Creative team: Gareth Butters, creative director Client: Hannah Pain, head of marketing (brand, affinity, trust & family) and Amber Myers, brand manager Production company: Moxie Pictures Director: Edgar Wright

4. NHS England “Ribbon Dancer”

A man gets up, heads downstairs and takes a loo roll from a bag by the door. As he begins to unravel the paper, he bursts into a graceful dance. Then, like a rhythmic gymnast and using the toilet roll as his ribbon, a joyous celebration of life ensues, choreographed to the tune of Sammy Davis Jr’s I’ve Got To Be Me. It’s an upbeat response to a very serious brief. With one third of people who receive a bowel cancer screening kit failing to complete it, the aim is to get people to put the kit by the loo where they can’t ignore it.

Agency: M&C Saatchi Creative team: Guy Bradbury, creative partner; Tom Kennedy, creative director; Amy Parkhill, copywriter; Ed East, art director Client: Phil Bastable, deputy director, head of marketing Production company: Si&Ad Director: Academy Films

5. Secret Escapes “Regret: Toby”

The consequence of missing out on a Secret Escapes deal is neatly dramatised in this short, snappy spot. As a couple lounge by a pool, they realise they could have saved money on their trip by using Secret Escapes. As they start to consider what they did to afford their holiday, we see their young son – Toby – left back at home. This tongue-in-cheek TV spot is one of three.

Agency: Pablo Creative team: Dan Watts, executive creative director; Oli Beale, creative Client: Louise Nolder, chief customer officer Production company: Drool Director: Freddie Powell

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 are judged by the Thinkbox Academy – advertising and marketing luminaries who have been involved in award-winning creative work for TV.


Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media 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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