Very Fast Chair speeds to victory in the May/Jun 2019 Thinkboxes

Virgin Trains' "Very Fast Chair" by Anomaly London has come in first in the latest Thinkboxes Award for TV ad creativity.

The winning ad – a light-hearted attempt to imagine the perfect vehicle – features a man travelling on a pimped-up bench that provides him with food, entertainment, company, a drinks service, a toilet and free Wi-Fi as it travels on its own road. Eventually, the man is transported into a relaxing Virgin train, where a salad awaits.

With Virign Trains' interim marketing director James Rawlinson making it clear early on that he wanted as much as possible shot in-camera rather than rely on post-production CGI, the very first - and considerable - challenge was to create a Heath Robinson-style contraption to be filmed.

And the script? "The truth is that a train is a 125mph chair with crisps and the internet and waiters and toilets attached to it. After that divine inspiration, the script wrote itself," said Mike Whiteside, who created the ad with Ben Robinson.

TV was the obvious choice for the ambition of the idea. "TV is very important for Virgin Trains," said Rawlinson. "It is a proven channel for brand awareness, brand consideration and other brand health metrics. It is the channel that delivers our strongest ROI and we find tens of thousands of new customers register their interest with us whenever we are on air, so it is also a great acquisition tool."

  • Creative agency: Anomaly
  • Creative team: Ben Robinson, Mike Whiteside, Oli Beale
  • Client: James Rawlinson
  • Production company: Caviar
  • Director: Keith Schofield

Other ads on the podium

Lucozade Sport "Three Lionesses"

In seeking to cut through the marketing noise surrounding the Women’s World Cup, Lucozade Sport drew on the enduring power of the Three Lions song. It has established itself as an emotive tournament touchstone for England fans since Euro 96 – and Lucozade edited the lyrics as a backing track to a montage of on-pitch action and personal testament, illustrating the growing importance of women’s football. The ad also supports a nationwide campaign encouraging more women to take up the beautiful game.

  • Creative agency: Grey London
  • Creative team: Sam Daly, Robert Greaves, Matt Tassell, Marc Owens
  • Client: Liam Angel
  • Production company: Academy Films
  • Director: Jack Driscoll

Stroke Association "Heads"

A range of ingenious animation styles showing heads exploding, innards of brains unravelling and faces melting are used here to illustrate a scary catalogue of stroke onset symptoms, described in voice-over by the people who’ve experienced them. Then the animated sequences go into reverse and we cut to these "victims" talking to us straight-to-camera, testifying to the fact that these are more than victims, they’re survivors – evidence in the flesh of the work done by the Stroke Association in helping rebuild lives.

  • Creative agency: AMV BBDO
  • Creative team: Toby Allen, Jim Hilson, Andy Vasey, Dan Warner
  • Client: Donna Tipping
  • Production company: Lief
  • Director: Lotje Sodderland

Warburtons "GoodBagels"

Warburtons’ latest comedy epic sees the brand partnering with its most impressive star turn yet – Robert De Niro. The notion is that, as an archetypal New Yorker, he’s enraged that a Lancashire bakery can lay claim to expertise in something so intrinsically associated with the Big Apple – the bagel business. De Niro decides he’s either going to close it down or take it over – and mayhem ensues in this lovingly crafted homage to his role in the Goodfellas film.

  • Creative agency: Engine
  • Creative team: Billy Faithfull, Charlie Gee, Tian Murphy
  • Client: Chris Hook
  • Production company: Another Film Company
  • Director: Declan Lowney

Walkers "Best Ever Fan"

Good-natured comedy here as the Spice Girls have some fun sending themselves up. They’re in the house of their Best Ever Fan to offer him VIP tour tickets. He’s eating a bag of crisps and they ask him to share it round but, astonishingly, he refuses his idols' requests and a struggle ensues. When he settles the matter by finishing the bag and necking the crumbs with a flourish, the girls flounce out, proving that, when it comes to the crunch, it must be Walkers.

  • Creative agency: AMV BBDO
  • Creative team: Mark Fairbanks, Graham Jenks, Emma Penz, Phil Sinclair
  • Client: Fernando Kahane
  • Production company: Merman
  • Director: MJ Delaney
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