A real variety performance

Quality Street, the Olympics, the UN, The Krankies – aren’t variety and difference wonderful things?

This struck me when I had a look back over the winners of our monthly TV ad creative awards – the Thinkboxes – which have been up and running for just over a year now. It felt like a good time to step back and survey the ads that have won.

I wondered what the winners – voted for by the creative community via our Academy – would tell me about the last year or so in TV advertising creativity, if indeed they told me anything. What were the trends, the patterns, the creative motifs that captured the imagination?

There is clearly no formula for winning although one slight pattern was the use of longer than average ads and one-offs; these were over-represented in the winners than in what we generally watch on screen. But that was it. What most of the winners have in common is difference.

Certainly no one agency has been dominant. 12 agencies have shared 14 awards. This is, I think, a massive compliment to the diversity of creativity we can enjoy – and shows there was no block voting, which is very noble.

A full list of the winners so far is below, but a snapshot shows the variety we have seen.

We of course had wonderful examples of spot ads like Cadbury’s ‘Eyebrows’ or VW Golf’s ‘Enjoy the everyday’ or the Home Office’s ‘Know your limits’. But we also had extended spots like Hovis’s 122-second epic ‘Go on boy’; we had a one-off, live ad with Honda’s skydive; we had a one-off extended spot ad with Stephen Berkoff demonstrating a heart attack for the British Heart Foundation; we had T-Mobile’s ‘Dance’ and the meerkat-shaped form of’s Alexandr, which both showed how TV can begin phenomena that can then be extended expertly through social media.

However, there are some ad formats conspicuous by their absence. There have been no sponsorship or branded content, no interactive TV, and no online TV campaigns that have won. This is largely because they haven’t been submitted, so it would be good to see more of these in the next year. 


  • April: ‘Enjoy the everyday’, VW Golf, DDB London

  • May: ‘Live parachute jump’, Honda, 4Creative/W+K London

  • June: ‘Wanna be like you’, Tobacco control for Dept of Health, MCBD

  • July: ‘Know your limits’, Home Office, VCCP

  • August: ‘Heart attack’, British Heart Foundation, Grey London

  • September: ‘Go on lad’, Hovis, MCBD

  • October: ‘You are powerful’, Amnesty, Mother London

  • November: ‘Break the cycle’, Barnardo’s, BBH


  • December/January: ‘Dance’, T-Mobile, Saatchi & Saatchi

  • February: ‘Eyebrows’, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Fallon

  • March: ‘Combine Harvester’, Boursin, RKCR/Y&R

  • April: ‘Sergei’,, VCCP

  • May: ‘Be natural’, Robinsons, BBH

  • June: ‘Bottle’, Heinz Tomato Sauce, AMV BBDO

  • Lindsey Clay
    Lindsey Clay
    CEO, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
You might also like

10 ‘people watching’ TV picks

From people dating, to people travelling the world, to people… watching people on TV. Check out our 10 TV picks.


Signalling Success: the event

Tune in from 9.30am on Thursday 5th November for a deep dive into our newest research, plus sessions with Richard Shotton and Rory Sutherland.


Highlights from ITV

The Million Pound Cube begins, presented by Phillip Schofield. Celebrity Juice is back on our screens. The Real Housewives of Cheshire open up about motherhood. Famous faces compete together in The Chase Celebrity Special.