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FEATURE19 December 2019

Review 2019: best campaign of the year

Charities FMCG Features Media Retail Trends UK

The nominations for best campaign of 2019 are a mixed bunch – there’s little consensus with everything from Christmas ad campaigns, to environmental activism getting a name check.


Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
With public concerns about the environment reaching a record high this year (at issue number three in June, beating the economy, crime and immigration), it’s got to be the collective efforts of a number of different campaigns to put the environment back on the agenda, from Greta Thunberg to Sky (Ocean Rescue) to Extinction Rebellion. Many of these campaigns have done a great job at inspiring younger people (half of whom rate the environment as one of their top three issues for the country), but the question is what these campaigns can do next to encourage real, lasting change.

Nick Baker, UK chief executive, Savanta
Caroline Lucas’ in the political establishment but Extinction Rebellion have properly made a statement and shown us all what is possible…. people do care.

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
I named Extinction Rebellion campaign of the year in 2018 and I’m giving them a joint nomination with Fridays for Future this year. While their methods may be debatable, they’ve had an undeniable effect on the discourse and have landed consciousness of climate change amongst the general public.  


Anna Cliffe, joint managing director, Trinity McQueen
Dairy Milk (loneliness campaign) – it encourages kind gestures. Spontaneous acts of kindness are good for your mental health. And it’s damn good chocolate too.

Ben Hogg, managing director EMEA and APAC, Lucid
Leaving it right to the last minute, but Ikea’s bold as baubles Christmas advert offered a refreshing tonic to the saccharine selection of seasonal sales pitches that we’re used to at this time of year. Featuring east London grime pioneer D Double E berating a family for their old and tired furniture and entitled ‘Silence the Critics’, it managed to be funny, relevant, different and yet still authentic to the brand and genre. I also love the fact that some creative out there had a eureka moment and decided to combine Christmas, D Double and Ikea and pulled it off. 

Emma Cooper, managing director, group operations, System1
The John Lewis Christmas ad did it for me. I'm a softie for believing that everyone can find their mission in life, a way of applying their unique talents –and the little girl helped her dragon buddy find his.

Ryan Howard, director, advanced analytics, Simpson Carpenter
When the alternatives were to copy or ignore the competition, ‘A Day without Whopper’ raised awareness for McDonald’s charity day. Although not entirely a new concept, it still took a little courage, cheekily retained brand messaging, and was executed with warmth and charm to win Burger King deserved cut through – and all for a good cause.

Jane Bloomfield, chief growth officer UK, Kantar
I loved the Women’s World Cup advertising this year. It was great to see such a phenomenal sporting event beginning to get the attention and coverage it deserves. The Budweiser campaign as part of this, using Queen Elizabeth I’s speech and a host of inspirational women to bring drama to the occasion, was one of my favourites.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
Yet another genius campaign from Channel 4. ‘Complaints Welcome’ celebrates the weird and wonderful real complaints received by the broadcaster, showcasing its talent and highlighting that it sparks debate and discussions in its programming. Just how many brands can live up to that?

Sinead Jefferies, consultant, Watermelon
The Bodyform #bloodnormal campaign is a brilliant example of a brand sparking debate through challenging taboos. Why on earth should products for periods show blood as a weird blue liquid? The complaints about the ad not only helped achieve high levels of coverage across social and mainstream media but showed the ridiculousness of the status quo. The timing was perfect, as this is just one more element of society where people are suddenly – belatedly – questioning the way women and women’s issues have been portrayed for as long as we can remember.

Jane Rudling, managing director, Walnut Unlimited
The Black Market campaign from the French retailer Carrefour. It shows the real commitment of a brand that managed to change government regulations on organic agriculture. Ideas that change the world and make it a little better, connect with their audience, have a cultural role and an authentic purpose stand out from the crowd. This campaign won one of the Grand Prix awards at Cannes.


Crawford Hollingworth, co-founder, The Behavioural Architects
The (pop-up) Store of Modern Childhood opened by The Children’s Society to draw attention to the challenges faced by young people –poverty, knife crime, bullying and sexual exploitation. The conceptual stores (in London and Birmingham) stocked stab vests, pre-chewed pencils and dirty school blazers, among other ‘not actually for sale’ items. It’s an interesting new campaign style. I’ve noticed Choose Love too has pop-up shops (in London, NYC and LA) raising money for refugees. You can buy its stock – hot food, warm clothes, emergency blankets, but you leave the stores empty handed.

Paul Twite, managing director for Europe & MENA, ITWP
Not sure how you define best, but a growing public awareness of the lengths political parties will go to, to win power through targeted advertising and fake news was fascinating. As was Facebook’s outdoor campaign to apologise. The fact that the ‘fake news is not our friend’ ads were then humorously hacked and went viral again, added to the intrigue.

As part of our end-of-year series, our contributors have also reviewed the biggest industry developments and trends of 2019