7 Dec 2020

Let's look on the bright side of life

Chief Creative Officer, Greg Quinton and other Superunion global team members survey the ad landscape for a selection of this year's creative highlights. 

Some things in life are bad. They really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. 

When you're chewing over this year's bile. Don't grumble, give a smile. 

And this will help things turn out best. 

I've been fortunate enough to have spent lockdown drinking tea, dunking biscuits and talking 'teams, clients and work' with our wonderful global creative leads. We've discussed the work we've seen that we love, wish we'd done, or both. Producing quality work is hard enough at the best of times, but to create something special this year is nothing short of a miracle - and we thought it needs celebrating!

So, with apologies to the Monty Python team, and with one eye on 'the brighter side' and one on the themes of the year, let's take a trip around the world of work with some of our team: 

If life seems jolly rotten

Brand impartiality is a luxury few can afford today. Whether it's simply selling goods or influencing politics finding their unique brand voice is invaluable. 

"Patagonia's Vote the A**holes Out [below], speaks for itself." Ross, Executive Creative Director, NYC. 

"I absolutely love what Steak-umm has done on Twitter, they're providing responsible, informative, and witty commentary... all while still selling their frozen meat product." Dan, Creative Director, NYC


Above: Patagonia's straight talking. Image credit: Shots

There's something you've forgotten

Travel will return. Hopefully wiser, cleaner and greener. 

"I couldn't be prouder that Singapore is the first destination to be featured in Animal Crossing. Tourism in a small country like ours is challenging, but they've managed to put one of Singapore's most iconic destinations, Sentosa, in a virtual world." Jie Ni, Senior Designer, Singapore. 

"The [New York] MTA map, by Work&Co, is mind blowing. It takes two opposite solutions that had their own qualities, and combined them to create a better version of the sum of both. Plus, the smart use of technology, and the real time power it gives to the users is awesome." Heitor, Executive Creative Director, Sao Paolo

The redesigning of the New York MTA's map is a fascinating watch and a remarkable achievement. Video Credit: Work&Co 

And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing

TV box sets, daily exercise routine (back 'n' forth to the fridge), Groundhog day life has taught us the true meaning of real entertainment. 

"Nike's You Can't Stop Us [below] is a great demonstration of diversity done right, and how craft can elevate a job. Let's be honest, it's not the first time we've seen the split-screen idea, but the craft takes it to another level and it's the first time we've seen it done in such a seamless and compelling way." Stuart, Executive Creative Director, London. 

"A Japan-only edition of Nike sneakers by artist Macciu caught my eye! My first thought was, 'I want a pair', and my second was to be amazed by its artistic style and how imagination can [excel] with a carefree attitude." Ray, Managing Creative Director, Shanghai. 

"Coronet Theatre's new identity is simple, modern and elegant, with the right mix of playful. I love the way it references the building and name. The image where the Coronet is laid on the head is so satisfying! The way it runs through the system is lovely too." Graeme, Creative Director, London. 

Below: Nike's You Can't Stop Us; "diversity done right". Credit: Nike 

When you're feeling in the dumps

It's taken a pandemic to shine a spotlight on mental health. It can never be allowed to return to the shadows again. 

"Good Morning World by Special Group [below] gave me a sunny smile to have with my dark coffee everyday by getting different Kiwis to say good morning from around the country. To hear a familiar accent and get a wholesome, healthy message from a Kiwi in paradise has been a much needed morale booster." Anthony, Design Director, Amsterdam. 

"My favourite is the identity Paula Scher did for the Mental Health Coalition. I'm a sucker for simple and bold symbols that land the idea instantly. The square peg and round hole symbolise that there is no 'normal' when it comes to mental health, and that everybody fits. An important message, especially for 2020." Kyley, Creative Director Johannesburg. 

Below: New Zealanders say 'good morning' for a mental health boost. Credit: Special Group

Don't be silly chumps

We've had a glimpse at a world with less pollution, and it was good. Plastic isn't going anywhere fast, however, there are signs that we are waking from this slumber. 

"As restaurant deliveries suddenly surged, so did the use of plastic and manufactured containers. Many in Thailand responded by using nature, importantly, the lotus lea. Its natural qualities repel liquid, keeping food fresh. Additionally, the leaf is culturally a symbol of wealth and fortune. A reminder that each meal is precious." Jick, Senior Strategy Director, Bangkok. 

"Trink Aus Glas, or Drink from a Glass. It's a movement aiming for a sustainable glass-only beverage shelf. A great overnight guerrilla awareness campaign against plastic pollution in major German cities." Phillipp, Creative Director, Munich. 

Above: Sony PlayStation took over London's Oxford Circus as part of the launch of the fifth iteration of its console. Image credit: Shots

Give the audience a grin

Brands need humour now more than ever. Humour mirrors our increasing desire to feel connected, to share a moment that makes us smile, laugh and to feel human again. 

"The PlayStation 5 Oxford Circus takeover [above] is a marvel, no matter that London was locked down (again) and many people didn't get a chance to see it in person. To go ahead with it, produce it and, especially, to do it right in front of the Microsoft store, shows real determination and balls." Meghan, Reputation Manager, London. 

And finally, in what seems to be a fitting metaphor for the mouldy year that was 2020...

"This simple yet arresting piece from Burger King [The Mouldy Whopper, below] stood out for being counterintuitive - showing its flagship menu item in the least appetising way possible to amplify their announcement about removing artificial preservatives from the Whopper. The lesson: don't be afraid to take risks to differentiate your brand!" Rick, Creative Director, NYC.

Below: Burger King went rogue with its Mouldy Whopper campaign. Credit: Burger King

As I said at the top, a massive hat off to the agencies and people involved in the above for the truly inspiring work - especially in the context of this year! Thank you to the creative community for their energy, commitment and belief that creativity really can make a difference. 

Always looking on the bright side of life. Da do, da do, do do de do de do...

First published in Shots