By Creative Review

CR May 2016 cover. Illustration by Charles Williams (

The Annual, in association with Arjowiggins Creative Papers, is Creative Review’s showcase of the outstanding projects of the year. All the selected work appears in a special double May issue of Creative Review.

This year’s Best in Books for Advertising are:

Sport England: This Girl Can 

Entrant/Agency: FCB Inferno

Cat no: A1.0086.

Chosen in Advertising_Commercials

This Girl Can launched with a film and a series of print ads, created by FCB Inferno, which offered a refreshingly honest portrayal of exercise. There were no unrealistic images of models or athletes looking immaculate at the finish line and no mention of losing weight or being ‘beach body ready’. Instead, women of various ages and body shapes were pictured taking part in a range of sports – from running to swimming and basketball – and looking sweaty, red-faced and exhausted (but happy) while doing it. Images were accompanied by some defiant and funny taglines, from ‘I kick balls. Deal with it’ to ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’.

The campaign was initially prompted by research from Sport England that showed that while many women wanted to be more active, they were put off taking part in sport by fear of judgment, particularly in ability and appearance. FCB Inferno’s humorous approach punctured the competitive style of most sport brands’ advertising and, most importantly, made the point that sport and exercise could be for everyone, regardless of shape or size.

The campaign proved hugely effective, with 2.8 million UK women inspired to be more active in the year since its launch. It forms part of a wider female empowerment trend in advertising that has emerged in recent years, though also proved influential in its own right, with other sports brands seen to take a wittier, more inclusive approach in their advertising for women following its success.

Geico: Unskippable 

Entrant/Agency: The Martin Agency

Cat no: A6.0008.

Chosen in Advertising_Digital Advertising

Advertising on the internet has reached something of a nadir lately, with the aggressive use of pop-up ads and programmatic strategies leading consumers to reach for ad-blocking apps in their droves. Among the most despised ad formats is the ‘pre-roll’ – spots that appear ahead of films on sites such as YouTube.

Aware that audiences find these ads an irritation, many brands offer the chance for viewers to skip them after a few seconds. It is this function that insurance company Geico turns on its head in its Unskippable series of ads from The Martin Agency.

The films show a set of everyday scenes that feature unexpected and very funny twists. A dinner scene, for example, sees family members freeze at the point most viewers would skip. But rather than the ad ending, at that point the family dog takes centre stage, munching greedily on a large bowl of spaghetti while mum and dad look on helplessly.

The ads cleverly loaded all of the central information about the brand at the start of the films – so if you did skip, you still received its core message – but then invited audiences to join in on the joke. They responded, with millions choosing to watch the longer films: proof that even the most reviled areas of advertising can prove inspiring and successful when creative thinking is applied.

Harvey Nichols: Shoplifters 

Entrant/Prod Co: Blinkink/Layzell Brothers

Cat no: A1.0103.

Chosen in Advertising_Commercials

High-end department store Harvey Nichols is renowned for creating surprising, cheeky and sometimes controversial ads that get people talking. Featuring real-life CCTV footage of shoplifters, this film, created to promote its Rewards app, continued this provocative approach.

The spot features genuine footage of shoplifters at work in the store, their faces obscured by animated masks courtesy of directors the Layzell Bros. As the ad progresses, the thieves are shown being chased and caught by security guards and then gloomily sitting in store holding rooms waiting for the arrival of the police. The ad’s tagline then appears: ‘Love freebies? Get them legally.’

It would be very easy for a brand like Harvey Nichols to do beautiful, glossy ‘fashion’ advertising. But that has never been its game. This, thanks to ad agency adam&eveDDB, is the store that previously gave us the Sorry I Spent It On Myself campaign, which encouraged shoppers to spend their Christmas present money on themselves instead of their loved ones, as well as a print campaign showing women wetting themselves with excitement at an imminent sale.

At a time when many brands are increasingly risk-averse, Harvey Nichols continues to boldly stride a controversial line, creating a standout brand in a sector that can too often tend towards blandness.

Click here to find out who judged the Creative Review Annual 2016

The May 2016 issue of Creative Review, featuring The Annual, is out now.

CR May 2016 cover. Illustration by Charles Williams (

Read more here:: CR Annual Best in Book: Advertising