Creativity on a shoestring

Inspiring talks on film from three of advertising’s best creatives, which clearly demonstrate that having a limited budget should in no way limit creativity; plus some tips on how to make your creative budget go further.

Creative and strategic brilliance with a little money will always beat average strategy and creativity with more money. So says Ed Morris, Director at Rattling Stick, when asked to consider how first time advertisers should approach TV. In this trilogy of films, each showcasing great, effective examples of TV ads made on a shoestring, we also hear from Justin Tindall, Executive Creative Director of Leo Burnett, and the legendary Dave Trott, Chairman of the Gate London. These inspiring talks from three of advertising’s best creatives, clearly demonstrate that having a limited budget should in no way limit creativity: in fact, it can do just the opposite: great stuff for anyone wanting to get their brand onto TV.

More about our speakers


Dave Trott, Chairman of the Gate London

Winner of the 2004 D&AD President’s Award, Dave graduated from the Pratt Institute, New York, majoring in Advertising before going to work in Madison Avenue. Dave Trott is currently Chairman of The Gate London. Part of The Gate worldwide, it has offices in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Edinburgh and Dublin. As part of the creative team behind ‘Hello Tosh Gotta Toshiba’, ‘Ariston and on and on', the Cadburys Flake ads and many more, Dave’s former agency Gold Greenlees Trott was voted Agency of the Year by Campaign Magazine, and Most Creative Agency in the World by Ad Age in New York. Now, if he’s not writing ads, he’s blogging, tweeting and giving online talks.


Justin Tindall, Executive Creative Director of Leo Burnett

Justin joined Leo Burnett in January 2011 from The Red Brick Road, where he was the Creative Partner. Justin has a wealth of experience, including seven years at DDB London where he was Head of Art, Creative Director and a member of the Exec Board. In particular, his work for Volkswagen, Lurpak, Marmite, The Guardian and Harvey Nichols won him the top honours at all the World’s major Advertising Festivals including D&AD Pencils, Gold Cannes Lions, BTAA Arrows, Gold One Show Pencils, Gold Clios and Grand Clios. In this filmed session from Thinkbox’s New to TV 2012 event, he sets out some of the creative principals brands should adhere to when advertising on TV. For Justin, TV’s creative canvas is the closest thing to life that we have and is the thing that can conjure up the emotions of life better than anything else. This makes TV an extraordinarily powerful thing and creatively, a very exciting medium. Packed with great examples that have influenced him over the years, Justin’s talk on creative magic is a great watch, and one that will definitely leave you inspired.

Ed Morris, Director, Rattling Stick


Ed’s move into directing follows an extensive and impressive career in some of London’s top advertising agencies, leading to his described as one of the best creatives of his generation. In Ed’s early career, his film for Sony Playstation ‘Double Life’ became the most awarded ad in the world in 1999 and has since entered the Clio hall of fame. This was then followed by a string of award-winning work at agencies such as BBH, DDB and TBWA. Under his tenure as Executive Creative Director of Lowe London, Ed built a formidable department receiving no less than 23 D&AD Silver nominations and 7 pencils on brands such as Stella Artois, Sure, The British Heart Foundation, Nestle, John Lewis and Innocent drinks. Ed has also been announced as Creative Director of the Year by Campaign and awarded the President’s Award by the Creative Circle.


Creative Top Tips

A great and effective TV ad is possible to make, even on a smaller budget. Here are some tips and ideas that should help you make most of your budget and get you on your way.

Come up with a great idea

The better the idea, the more money it will save you. If a creative idea is very strong it is often simpler and less costly to bring to life than its inferior counterpart. Creative agencies will lavish attention on it, the best directors will want to direct it and production companies will invest in it because they will want to use it as a showcase. Finally, television viewers will enjoy it, talk about it and pass it on to friends and family so you will get far more value out of your media spend. Time and effort expended on coming up with a simple, fresh, engaging, well-branded idea will never be wasted. The IPA have proved the link between creativity and effectiveness: so whatever you do, make the best ad you can

Plan ahead

It is hugely important to plan all areas of the TV production as far in advance as possible and put some thoughts into what exactly the requirements are. Whilst the turnaround of producing an advert is much quicker due to technological advances, allowing as much time as possible will help produce the best piece of creative often at a lower cost, having had the time to investigate the most cost effective routes.

Use a “young gun” director

Sometimes you can achieve a significant saving by using a relatively inexperienced director attached to a big production company.  If the production company is keen to get some advertising on the director’s reel they may be able to offer a very competitive rate. You, meanwhile, will get the benefit and reassurance of working with a big, experienced company

Have at least three quotes or go direct

Seeking three quotes as a matter of course is generally good practise and by briefing three separate production companies you are likely to get a slightly different approach for the idea, putting you in a more informed position about what suits you best. But advertisers can also consider going directly to TV companies, who in many cases design and produce adverts and sponsorship credits at competitive rates.

Re-use content

Another option is to considering reusing or adapting any content the advertiser may already own or making use of library footage in a creative way. Generally advertisers and agencies get bored of a creative long before the ads achieve wear out with the viewer, so this could be the most cost effective approach. Alternatively, you can consider using animation. Depending on the style of animation, significant savings can be made compared to the same scenario created with live action. Library footage used in a creative way will also reduce your production costs. 

Finally, in terms of creative, it’s important to two remember that:

  1. Cheapest does not necessarily mean best value.
  2. Although a good idea can often be brought to life in a very cost effective way, no amount of money lavished on a poor idea will transform it into a brilliant TV ad.



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