Thinkbox: Making magic on TV

TV is fundamental to effectiveness and creativity is the real profit dividend. If you can get your creative right it can be up to 12 times more efficient.

The creativity of television advertising was under the spotlight at Thinkbox’s star-studded event Creativity Works: Making Magic on TV. Ringan Ledwidge, director of Sainsbury’s new Christmas advert, which premiered on ITV on November 12, was among the guests along with Dougal Wilson, director of John Lewis’ award-winning ads, James Rouse and Siri Bunford.

Lindsey Clay, chief executive of Thinkbox, introduced the event. “This feels like the perfect event at the perfect time, focusing on TV creativity and its relationship with effectiveness,” she said. “How amazing has the last couple of weeks been with the launch of the Christmas advertising?”

The audience was then treated to a viewing of the 2014 ad, based around the Christmas Day truce and football match between German and British soldiers in 2014.

Clay admitted: “I’ve seen it twice now and I cried both times...” Mark Given, Head of Brand Communications at Sainsbury’s, said: “It’s an incredible story as part of our history. It’s 100 years since the Great War and we’ve been working with the Royal British Legion for 20 years so it felt like a really good opportunity to tell that story.

“We knew we had to do it sensitively, respectfully and with great care, along with the British Legion, and of course it was a great opportunity to continue to raise money. It was an incredible project to put together and the response was incredible. We were trending on Twitter within half an hour, with 98 per cent positive sentiment and lots of articles in the morning.”

Given explained why Sainsbury’s had decided to launch their ad without trailing it first. “We just wanted our customers to see it first,” he said. “We wanted a very simple broadcast spot on ITV. It felt right for this type of approach.

“Christmas, our customers tell us, is about sharing these moments with family and friends and really understanding what Christmas is all about.”

Director Ringan Ledwidge about the importance of the creative relationship between the director, the producer, the editor – and the client.

“Mark was great in the sense that he was very hard, upfront, he wanted to know all the answers and all my reasons for doing everything,” said Ledwidge.

Given said it was a huge challenge to create an outstanding Christmas advert.

“The challenge of doing the same thing but cutting through is always there,” he said.

“Retail is highly competitive at the moment and it’s very easy to default to ‘what are we selling?’ But our proposition is based on values and trust.”

Legendary advertising thinker and theorist, Paul Feldwick, also shared some creative nuggets from his eagerly anticipated new book, The Anatomy of Humbug: how to think differently about advertising.

He told the audience: “I’m convinced that most successful advertising depends less on logic, science and psychology... than it requires imagination, intuition, artistry, aesthetic judgement, playfulness, passion and not infrequently luck – all qualities which you might well associate with the word creativity.”

At the end of the event, Clay told the audience: “What we would love you to go away with having real clarity on is that an average TV campaign gets 234 million views. It’s such a huge number.

“Fame comes from everybody knowing about you and everybody talking about you, and the way to do that is on telly. And then you get the fantastic profit return. TV is fundamental to effectiveness and creativity is the real profit dividend. If you can get your creative right it can be up to 12 times more efficient.”