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APG Creative Strategy Awards 2017

In association with Google

This year we asked you to show us how creative strategic thinking can have a transformational effect on business, brands and culture.


These winning cases show not only how transformational brilliant strategy can be, but why it's at the heart of breakthrough creativity.

Congratulations to you all!

Gold & Grand Prix

Grand Prix


Agency: BBDO New York and BBDO San Francisco

Planned by: Alaina Crystal and Crystal Rix


Imagine the Possibilities

Barbie is an icon, but one that had started to lose its appeal and sales. This paper demonstrates how simply spotting, reclaiming and reinterpreting the brand’s original raison d'etre for today’s cultural conversation lead to landmark product innovation and communications.

Special Prize:

Denise Williams Prize for Best Performance to the Judges



Beats by Dre

Agency: R/GA, London

Planned by: Simon Wassef and Stephen Pirrie

How the power of music led Beats to victory

Once upon a time Beats by Dre weren’t cool. Now they’ve been bought by Apple for US $3bn. This paper shows how that transformation happened, thanks to strategy identifying the most emotionally powerful thing about music wasn’t tech specs, it was giving you the ability to focus. And then focusing on that, long-term.

Special Prize:

Long-Term Thinking

Cancer Research UK

Agency: Anomaly UK

Planned by: Ant Harris and Stuart Smith

Battling Cancer Right Now

Cancer UK is a big important charity doing big important work to eradicate the ‘Big C’. This paper demonstrates how planning realised big was the enemy, and that the key to unlocking more response was to get smaller and more intimate in creative, in media and in the production. The result was 400+ ads with 39% increase in donations.

Special Prize:

The Nursery Prize for Best Brand-Building Insight

Change Please (The Big Issue)

Agency: FCB Inferno, London

Planned by: Chris Baker

Change where you buy your coffee and change the world   

Change Please is a new coffee brand launched in partnership with the Big Issue that was inspired, refined and successfully launched thanks to a planner who spotted an opportunity to help homeless people by changing where and how people shopped for coffee - and then made it happen.

Special Prize:

Google Planning Innovator Award


Agency: MEC UK

Planned by: Pete Buckley and Richard Bartlett

"Fellow parents! If you want a shock, download the Sugar Smart app!!!”

In order to reduce the amount of sugar children consumed, Change4Life focused its core messaging on a digital app – a world first for public health marketing. This paper shows how strategy was central to the initiative through identifying the importance of visualising sugar, and making it personal to people.


Agency: Now, London

Planned by: Amelia Wood and Kate Waters

Bringing Out the Scientist in Kids

Explorify is a new digital service aimed at inspiring the next generation of children to be scientists. This paper shows how brave strategic thinking went against convention from education experts to shape innovative product design, branding, customer experience and launch strategy - with huge success.

Special Prize:

Firefish Prize for Unconventional Thinking

John Lewis Christmas

Agency: adam&eveDDB

Planned by: Martin Beverley, David Golding, Les Binet and David Bratt

The gift that keeps on giving

In recent years, John Lewis has won a very special place in peoples hearts for its Christmas communications as much as for its exceptional retail experience. This paper demonstrates how incisive new thinking positioning the brand as ‘the home of thoughtful gifting’ at Xmas directly lead to communications which have kept raising the creative bar year after year and transformed the business’ long-term fortunes.

Special Prize:

ITV Prize for Best Commercial Impact



BBC Asian Network

Agency: 101 London

Planned by: Clare Hutchinson

How cultural immersion inspired the sound of a new generation

BBC’s Asian Network radio station had falling listener numbers. This paper shows how planning went on a journey of cultural immersion to get under the skin of how young British Asians defined their generation through ‘bothness’, and then rebuilt the station’s entire remit & identity around this truth resulting in a record number of listeners.


Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, London

Planned by: Marie Maurer

These girls did, so others could

Dove’s ‘campaign for real beauty’ is one of the most celebrated campaigns of the last decade. This is the story of how the brand changes culture rather than just reflecting it, thanks to restless planning that identifies new cultural orthodoxies to challenge in order to answer the question ‘what do we want the truth to be.’

John Lewis Insurance

Agency: adam&eveDDB

Planned by: Tom Sussman

From trading off the brand's name, To learning how to transplant the brand's heart

John Lewis wanted to increase sales of its insurance products, without damaging its core brand. This paper shows how planning found a powerful emotional and media insight which disrupted the conventions of insurance category, touched the nation’s hearts and in the process transformed sales.

Jolly Rancher

Agency: Anomaly New York

Planned by: Laura Rowan, Gareth Goodall, Ashleigh Talcott and Andy Craig

Transforming A Brand That Sucks

Jolly Rancher was an unloved sweet doing traditional advertising but tanking in sales. A radical new digitally-driven approach leaning into negative associations of the brand by infiltrating ‘moments that suck’ created a prolific idea with 3,500+ pieces of content and new client approval process that resulted a sales turnaround.


Agency: MullenLowe London

Planned by: Will Allen-Mersh, Ayesha Walawalkar and Emma Batho

The radicalisation of Persil: How prisoners helped us restore conviction in the brand

Persil’s brave ‘Dirt is Good’ strategy had begun to feel normal and nostalgic. This paper shows how strategy gave it back its energy and edge by transforming its role from supportive advocate of a relaxed childhood into radical activist and agitator for change, and in the process recharged sales.

Pot Noodle

Agency: Lucky Generals, London

Planned by: Loz Horner and Andy Nairn

Success doesn’t come on a plate

Pot Noodle was an iconic UK instant snack in trouble as it failed to keep up with the ambitious values of a new youth generation. This paper shows how planning realised a U-turn was needed, by performing a strategic judo-move that repositioned it from the snack of the lazy into the fuel of ambitious go-getters.

Samsung Australia

Agency: iris Sydney

Planned by: Celia Garforth

Rethinking Sponsorship: How a niche passion point was transformed into a mass movement

Samsung decided to sponsor the niche sport of Women’s Netball instead of more mainstream Rugby. This story shows how planning helped snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by elevating the story from netball into challenging society’s conventions of role models and promoting the women’s netball players into stars.


Agency: Grey London

Planned by: Oliver Pople & Rachel Walker

Drive Smug

Sixt is the 9th biggest car rental company in the UK. This paper shows how planning enabled it to break free of competitors by playing into a socially shameful insight: that we feel smug driving a new premium car.

The Economist

Agency: Sense London

Planned by: Alex Smith and Francesca Zedde

How not to sell The Economist

The Economist is a different kind of proposition to most publications. This paper highlights how planning identified a unique problem: it needed to appeal to less people in order to sell more longer-term. And that the most powerful way to attract the right people was to embrace the uncomfortable truth that it was a challenging experience.


Agency: AMV BBDO, London

Planned by: Steve Hopkins, Hannah Penn and Craig Mawdsley

Creating a lot of growth from a little glass

Tropicana fruit juice was caught in the middle of a cultural backlash about sugar in drinks. This paper shows how smart thinking identified the opportunity was not to be defensive but to get people to drink less, by reframing the conversation from sugar amount to portion size thanks to a branded device called ‘Little Glass’.




Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, London
Planned by: Marie Maurer and Fergus Barnett (PHD)

How to change the world without trying to change the world

Babylon is a healthcare app that was positioned as a ‘doctor in your pocket’. This paper shows how in order to create mainstream uptake in the UK it bravely ignored its USP and reframed its competitive set from doctors to a bigger point of comparison: doctor google.


Agency: Mother London

Planned by: Mother London

Less Soap Box, More Sprinkles : A Story of Global Brand Transformation

Sometimes it’s possible to lose sight of what’s important. This paper shows in Bailey’s case the product itself had become something of an afterthought – and that by flipping the model to put product front and centre and connecting to foodie culture was the simplest way to recharge women’s relationship with the brand itself.


Agency: MullenLowe London

Planned by: Jenny Barthe and Rebecca Morgan

From mealmaker to matchmaker

To futureproof growth, Knorr needed to attract a new generation of younger millennials. This paper shows how planning identified the deeper social role food played for this audience in social channels, leading to an innovative engagement-led comms model that included emotive social content, a digital tool , personalised recipes -  and market share growth.


Agency: AMV BBDO, London

Planned by: Emily Harlock and Elly Fenlon

Saying the Unsaid

Maltesers was stuck on a treadmill of failed pre-tests and unspectacular in-market comms. This paper shows how planning challenged the brief to break free from mandatories and embrace opportunism, successfully using the Paralympics as a lighthearted platform for the brand to break conventions surrounding disability.


Agency: The Corner

Planned by: Phil Bassot and Talula White

It's awards season. You want papers. We need validation.

The soft drink Oasis wanted more teens to drink it again. This paper shows how by ditching the moderator-led focus group approach and giving teenagers free reign in a whatsapp group led to the realisation total honesty was the smartest selling strategy of all.

Special Prize: Best Written Paper

Project Literacy

Agency: FCB Inferno, London

Planned by: Nicola Willison and Chris Baker

The Alphabet of Illiteracy: transforming an overlooked problem into a unifying solution

As part of its CSR initiative Pearson wanted to push illiteracy up the global agenda. This paper shows how spotting the bigger issues related to illiteracy lead to a brilliantly simple creative approach focusing on the smallest things – letters of the alphabet – to mobilise support at the UN General Assembly.


Agency: Mother London

Planned by: Mother London

Welcome to Life After 50: Smashing myths about later life.

Sunlife is financial services for the over 50s. On the face of it, a recipe for dullness. This paper highlights how a surprisingly different research approach helped ‘unthink’ the audience and lead to communications which truly connected by feeling nothing like the rest of the sector.

Tate Britain

Agency: Grey London

Planned by: Ruth Chadwick

500 Years of Stories

Tate Britain wasn’t sharing the Tate Modern’s success, despite an ambition to make art accessible to everyone. Planning realised it needed to reach people who weren’t really interested in art, and that the stories behind the pictures – not the pictures themselves - were the key to inspiring people to come.


Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York

Planned by: Tiffany Graeff

Blurring the line between advertising and reality

The US detergent Tide saw the potential of the Super Bowl to connect with millions of people, but not if it just did a traditional ad. Planning identified cultural insights gave the brand an unexpected role within the livestream broadcast, and made it part of the conversation around the event.

Stephen King Strategy Agency of the Year

Congratulations to adam&eveDDB for winnging the Stephen King Strategy Agency of the Year

Picture Gallery

Picture Gallery


The theme for the 2017 awards is ‘Transformational Thinking’


What do we mean by that?

It’s the product of great planning and strategy. In the 2017 awards we will be celebrating cases that demonstrate this kind of thinking in different ways. It could be a compelling new approach, or a way of unlocking fresh insight and opportunities; doing things differently with tangible results; persuading and inspiring others, or having an inspirational effect that goes beyond advertising and marketing.


To win big at the awards you will need to show that your case exemplifies one of these approaches – or that a different approach that you or your team originated had a transformational effect.


doing things differently & going outside the comfort zone


unlocking fresh brand insight & creative opportunities


effect that goes beyond advertising and/or marketing


an ability to persuade & inspire others


defining a compelling new strategic trajectory or approach



Shortlist Committee

Final Judges


Official media partner

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