4 smart agency and award ads (and one manifesto) that showcase their creativity.

4 smart agency and award ads (and one manifesto) that showcase their creativity.

Ad agencies and award shows face a unique challenge when it comes to self-promotion. On one hand, they must showcase their creativity, strategic thinking, and ability to solve client problems in a memorable and impactful way. On the other hand, they must avoid the pitfalls of self-aggrandizement and clichéd “manifestos” that do little to differentiate one agency from another.

The industry is littered with examples of agencies that have tried too hard to be clever or edgy in their self-promotion, often at the expense of actually showcasing their capabilities.

With the awards season now in full swing, here are five wonderful examples who get the balance just right with bucketloads of charm, wit, and unconventional thinking.

Hijacked Popeyes Chicken Sandwich | Mojo Supermarket

Mojo Supermarket resorted to unusual tactics to get the attention of Popeyes after the company put its account under review. The agency posted a video on LinkedIn that features a sandwich purportedly being held hostage, with Mojo threatening to do something to the sandwich if Popeyes did not contact them within three days. The ad agency said that it was interested in working with the chicken sandwich chain as it loves the buzz that Popeyes has created for itself and the agency’s clear intention was to show how it can help the fast-food chain maintain that feeling and create buzz every day, not just when a new sandwich is launched. As of the time of writing, no sandwich has been reported as harmed…

The World's Worst RFP | Zulu Alpha Kilo

"World's Worst RFP" takes a fun approach to tackle one of the most hotly debated topics in the advertising industry: the agency pitch. In a satirical film inspired by post-game media scrums in professional sports, the film portrays the client, "winners," and "losers" of a pitch addressing the press in a tragicomic fashion. While delivering a chuckle, the video hits home the point that pitching is an enormous waste of time, energy, and money.

In a bid to generate more insights, the makers of the film also published a thought-provoking piece on smarterpitch.com, listing consolidated observations about the pitch process. They invited industry players, including clients, agencies, and pitch consultants, to share their views using the hashtag #smarterpitch.

Bomb Squad | Andy Awards | Wieden + Kennedy

The ANDY Awards have celebrated creative bravery for over 50 years and this campaign gem created by Wieden + Kennedy aimed to remind the industry that while advertising may not be life or death, it still requires a certain level of fearlessness and bravery to stand out and make an impact. By showcasing real life heroes such as firefighters, bomb diffusion experts, and neurosurgeons who all are in 'tongue-firmly-in-cheek' awe of the bravery within advertising, the campaign’s goal was to encourage agencies to submit their most courageous work to the ANDYs.

The Christmas Restraining Order

In a year of unprecedented challenges, ad agencies faced the tough task of creating the traditional Christmas gift for their clients that acknowledged the difficulties of 2021 and the need for a restorative break. And that's exactly what Colenso BBDO did with their clever and creative "Christmas Restraining Order" campaign.

The agency sent their clients a beautifully designed wine bottle label that doubled as a restraining order, prohibiting any contact for 21 days over the Christmas break. The conditions of the order were a witty mix of industry insights and legal jargon, resulting in penalties for breaching the order such as having briefs lit on fire. The box was tied together with a pink ribbon, a nod to legal documents of the past.

The campaign was a huge success, with zero briefs, emails, or phone calls received during the 21-day break. Clients responded positively, with industry leaders taking to social media to express their enthusiasm – showing that even the most serious legal document can be transformed into a fun and effective marketing tool.

Slap Global 'The Musical' | Slap Global

When it comes to wooing potential clients, ad agencies have a tendency to spout verbose "manifestos" that proclaim their unbridled brilliance and insightful approaches to creating brand messages. However, when Gerry Graf and Maxi Itzkoff, the industry vets who founded Slap Global, were asked for their credentials, they offered something totally unexpected: a mini-musical.

Rather than crafting a self-important declaration, the duo enlisted Andrew Sherman, a composer of musicals for the New York Fringe Festival, to pen a song. They also brought in actor Ciaran Sheehan, famous for his portrayal of the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and in Toronto, to perform it. The video was assembled by editor Chuck Willis of Gattie & Lopez, featuring clips of people getting slapped, a nod to the company's name.

Graf explains that the idea was born from the agency's history of bucking conventions, as well as a desire to showcase their personalities through song. The musical will now be presented as a calling card to prospective clients requesting credentials.