In addition to expanded editorial coverage, Best-in-Show winners also receive a gold-anodized aluminum trophy to acknowledge their exemplary creative efforts.
For this year’s advertising competition, we were relieved to see the number of entries return close to prepandemic levels. The categories with the biggest growth included Digital, Integrated Campaigns and Public Service. An unexpected delight was the dramatic increase in entries in the Television Commercials category, which had been in decline for several years.
Five projects were selected for Best-in-Show: two television commercials, a poster series, a puzzle and, to our astonishment, a public service radio commercial. Our coverage on them begins on page 50.
To no one’s surprise, the global pandemic continued to have the greatest influence on much of the submissions as brands sought to find the right voice to speak to their customers.
“Clearly, the pandemic played a role in how brands spoke and acted this past year,” says juror Liz Paradise. “Being a voice for social good, doing it authentically and being nimble enough to act in a timely manner can be powerful. Brave brands have set that tone, and now many are following.”
“Creativity and problem-solving skills continue to be inspiring in our industry, even in the thick of a global pandemic,” juror Katy Hornaday says. “We saw so many brands that found ways to meet consumers where they needed them most. Whether it was a puzzle (note: brands made a lot of puzzles in 2020) or Mastercard’s True Name, brands are delivering real purpose in consumers’ lives. And it’s inspiring.”
“It was good to see such a range of industries repre-sented,” says juror Colin Hart. “In a year where a lot of these categories could have easily taken a backseat, they were still investing in creating.”
“Ideas like Heinz on Film, The Look from Popeyes and Little Caesar’s Naming Rights reminded us all how much fun it is to see brands and culture on a play date,” Hornaday says. “These are ideas that reached into [this] moment in time and made it their own.”
I asked the jurors what surprised them most about this year’s entries.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see entries from practically all regions of the world,” says juror Ali Rez.
“A lot of work was done without elaborate shoots and relied on either stock, great retouching, and brilliant art and typography,” juror Deepesh Jha says.
“The entries that rose to the top for me either brought a smile to my face—something we’re all craving these days—or contributed in a meaningful way to the world,” says juror Mira Kaddoura.
“I was surprised by the craft of the some of the student work,” juror Danny Robinson says. “This makes me believe that the industry is in good hands.”
“There were a serious amount of amazing ideas in the student work,” says Hart. “I can only imagine how tough it’s been for them, but they clearly haven’t been taking it easy. There was some world-class thinking in there.”
I also asked the jurors what they found most disappointing with the entries.
“There were some really great ideas that were executed poorly,” Paradise says. “Craft matters.”
“It’s so important to remember the art of craft,” says juror Alexis Bronstorph. “Whether it’s copy, art direction or overall execution, Communication Arts is a collection of world-class work.”
“There were a lot of entries that felt and looked like advertising from the ’90s and 2000s,” says Kaddoura.
“It’s still a bit frustrating to see some of those 1980s, macho-car, testosterone-fueled ads,” Hart says. “There were quite a few entries from that industry. I do get it, but it’s not my idea of great work. There is a fine line between smart and smart-arsed.”
“It’s disappointing to see so many case studies that were clearly made just for awards shows,” says Hornaday. “Small ideas with little-to-no impact overblown in a two-minute case study. On the contrary, seeing work from brands like Dove Beauty and IKEA this year is a reminder that a longstanding commitment to a brand idea beats a stunt every single time.”
I asked the jurors how advertising is utilizing the ever-expanding number of media platforms to reach increasingly diverse audiences.
“Definitely an emphasis on digital and targeted social,” Paradise says. “One of my favorite campaigns was [comprised of] three-second videos.”
“Big data and smart phone penetration have led to very interesting uses of selective channels to push brands,” says Jha. “What’s getting challenged is the classic definition of the big idea. It is no longer one big campaign or [a] defining execution device. It is more about many quick responses to online trends that are big for a few days.”
“As fast as media is fragmenting, data and targeting abilities are growing just as fast,” Robinson says. “Yes, it is more difficult to reach audiences at scale. [However,] with increased data availability, we can now reach those who are not only more apt to purchase our brands, but also those who are most interested in or should be interested in our brands based on their behaviors, likes and dislikes via demographic, geographic, behavioral and interest targeting.”
“This is a learning curve for the industry as a whole, and [it’s] currently very category and market led,” says Jha. “Some categories and markets are beginning to shift the ask of the agencies and the kind of communication needed to achieve specific results within target groups. Not all markets have that richness of data and the technological ability to implement this, [but] it is the future and this change is here to stay.”
“The advertising world is exceptional at adapting to new things, new ways of thinking, new media and new trends,” Bronstorph says. “Every year, it feels like there are a handful of agencies pushing the thinking forward, making the rest of the industry take notice. This year was no different.”
Lastly, I asked the jurors what business, cultural and social developments might dramatically alter the role of advertising in the future.
“Gen Z are almost 50 percent of current consumers and will continue to grow,” says Kaddoura. “They are the most digital-savvy, diverse consumer base right now and are pushing for societal change and greater authenticity not just between people but [also] in interactions with brands and organizations. To succeed with them, brands need to align to a greater purpose with a narrative that captures their attention and imaginations. It’s never been a more exciting time because we can finally use this billion dollar industry to make real progress.”
“The movement has already started to use the influence of brands for a more responsible approach to people and planet,” Rez says. “This will only get more enhanced as we confront ever-increasing social issues around the world.”
“The role of advertising is to drive growth for our clients,” says Robinson. “We say impact culture to impact sales. To us, that will always be its role. The world is in the middle of a tidal wave of change, but the role of advertising stays the same—more challenging, but the same.”
A minimum of six out of ten votes was required for a project to be awarded in this year’s competition. I would like to extend our grateful appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 62nd Advertising Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
Lisa Bright is chief creative officer of Ogilvy California and global chief creative officer of public relations for the ad agency. A recognized and awarded integrated creative leader, Bright was named fourth on Business Insider’s list of the 30 most creative women in advertising in 2016. She continues to drive work that unlocks the power of great brands at the intersection of culture and creativity, including Cottonelle’s launch of the category transforming platform downtherecare; Glad’s Torture Test, which was awarded at Cannes and proved that even trash demos can be compelling; and Jeep’s Portraits, which was number one on Adweek’s list of the five Best Super Bowl ads in 2016.
Alexis Bronstorph is co-chief creative officer at TAXI Canada, but started her career in advertising at 9 years old, when she did voiceover work for a radio commercial. Over the last sixteen years, she has worked as a creative director and copywriter across all disciplines and has helped build and grow brands from the small and local to the big and international. Bronstorph’s work has won ADC Cubes, Cannes Lions, Clios, Communication Arts awards, D&AD Pencils, One Show Pencils and has been featured on the cover of Lürzer’s Archive magazine. Bronstorph was most recently named to Adweek’s Creative 100 List for 2021.
Colin Hart is the executive creative director of The Public House, a Dublin, Ireland–based agency he started at the height of the Irish recession after art directing his way around the world. Founded with the principle that “boring doesn’t sell,” The Public House was created to simply help brands talk to people, like people talk to people. Having won international advertising awards from practically every continent, Hart believes that sometimes the ideas that make you a bit uncomfortable are the ones that pay off. The Public House serves clients including Barnardos, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, Jameson and Paddy Power.
Katy Hornaday is the chief creative officer of Kansas City, Missouri–based ad agency Barkley, where she oversees the creative, production, content and video teams. This integrated team of more than 90 makers is adept at building everything a brand needs to thrive in the modern world. Hornaday worked at agencies Crispin Porter Bogusky and Mullen prior to joining Barkley in 2012 and has been named a Future Lion, a Young Gun, one of the 30 Most Creative People in Advertising Under 30, Adweek’s Creative 100 and one of the 30 Most Creative Women in Advertising. In addition to ads, she’s created two humans she’s quite fond of: Emery, 9, and Palmer, 4.
Deepesh Jha is the chief creative officer of ad agency SCANAD Africa, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and executive creative director at JWT EA, Africa’s largest Sub-Saharan agency network. He is also the vice-chair of the Marketing Society of Kenya. Jha is a brand storyteller who believes that great communication is the fine art of finding the right balance between human insights and product truths that leave both the consumer and the brand happy. After working for fifteen years at numerous agencies in India, Jha has spent the last decade working on brands across Africa. With more than 26 years of experience, he has helped shape brands, agencies and the industry.
Mira Kaddoura is founder and executive creative director of Red & Co., a female and minority-founded boutique consultancy in Portland, Oregon. Red & Co. created Made with Code, one of Google’s most important initiatives to diversify tech, and Netflix’s lauded brand campaign Make Room that positioned the media company as a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion. Kaddoura started out at ad agency Wieden+Kennedy where she helped create award-winning campaigns for Nike. She has spoken at many conferences and was named one of Ad Age’s Women to Watch, Portland Advertising Federation’s Ad Person of the Year and to Adweek’s Creative 100.
Senthil Kumar is chief creative officer of ad agency Wunderman Thompson India. Kumar is the most awarded writer, creative director and film director in Indian advertising and has been voted Copywriter of the Year and Film Director of the Year several times at national and Asia-Pacific regional creative festivals. He also won India’s first Cannes Gold Lions in Film and Film Craft and India’s first One Show Gold Pencils in Film, Film Craft and Innovation in Film. Numerous case studies of his campaigns for Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, PepsiCo, Puma, Tata Steel and the Times Of India are featured in the curriculum of the Indian Institutes of Management.
Liz Paradise is chief creative officer of ad agency Bright Red in Tallahassee, Florida. Since Paradise joined the agency in 2018, it has won over a dozen new accounts including American Sugar Refining, Belize Tourism, Duck Donuts and The Leading Hotels of the World. Paradise is proud to be building a diverse, award-winning creative department in Tallahassee. Before Bright Red, Paradise was director, creative at Disney’s creative agency Yellow Shoes in Orlando, Florida and executive creative director at ad agency McKinney in Durham, North Carolina. She’s won and judged all the major awards, except she’s never judged Communication Arts, which she’s now thrilled to check off her career bucket list.
Ali Rez is regional executive creative director of ad agency IMPACT BBDO, headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Ranked amongst the top ten executive creative directors in the world in the Drum’s 2021 World Creative Rankings and named South Asia Creative of the Year twice by Campaign magazine, Rez has won more than 500 international accolades in his career, including Golds at Cannes Lions, Clios, D&AD, Effie, the One Show and a United Nations Peace Award. Rez’s work has brought tremendous positive impact to business and social causes alike. He has been on the jury at every major global award show and is a member of the D&AD UK Impact Council.
Danny Robinson is chief creative officer of ad agency The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia. Robinson began his career in marketing as a product manager after earning his MBA from Atlanta University. In 1998, he co-founded and was the chief creative officer of Vigilante, one of the first agencies specializing in transforming urban insights into advertising and communications. During his tenure, he was the co-architect of one of the most famous brand integrations in history: the Oprah Winfrey Pontiac G6 car-giveaway show. Robinson began his career at Martin in 2004 as a senior vice president, group creative director and was appointed chief client officer in 2018.