The Year in Creativity, 2019 — Part 3

100 top creative leaders on their favorite work of the year, and where we're headed next

To close out 2019, Muse asked 100 top creative leaders to give us their thoughts on the state of creativity—to tell us their favorite work of the year, trends they find exciting, and predictions for 2020.

You can download the full report at this link.

We're also publishing the report as a series of five Muse articles throughout this week. This story is Part 3. Click through to the other installments below:

The Year in Creativity, Part 1
The Year in Creativity, Part 2
• The Year in Creativity, Part 3 (this story)
The Year in Creativity, Part 4
The Year in Creativity, Part 5


The Year in Creativity, 2019 — Part 3

Click the links to jump to individual entries, or scroll down to see them all.

• Goodby Silverstein & Partners | Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby, Co-Chairmen
• Grey | John Patroulis, Worldwide CCO
• GSD&M | Jay Russell, CCO
• GUT | Anselmo Ramos, Founder and CCO
• Interesting Development | Paul Caiozzo, CCO
• Isobar | Ronald Ng, Global CCO
• Joan Creative | Jaime Robinson, Co-Founder and CCO
• Johannes Leonardo | Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico, CCOs
• JSM Music | Joel Simon, CEO and CCO
• Leo Burnett | Liz Taylor, Global CCO
• LOLA MullenLowe | Tomás Ostiglia, ECD
• The Many | Josh Paialii, Creative Director
• The Martin Agency | Anne Marie Hite, Group Creative Director
• McCann | Eric Silver, CCO, North America
• Merkley + Partners | Chris Landi, Group Creative Director
• M/H VCCP | John Matejczyk, CCO
• Mister Sweat | Jeff Sweat, Founder
• MOCEAN | Michael McIntyre, President
• Mother London | Ana Balarin, ECD


Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby
Co-Chairmen

PROUD OF

Rich Silverstein: To reconnect the public with the power of HP printing, we launched a campaign championing the idea "get real." The campaign pushes against society's addiction to digital devices. It questions many of today's digital norms, like mindless face filters, shooting our food before eating it, sending emojis in lieu of real flowers, retouching our bodies, having conversations in tweets, and being with art but not looking at it. Our "homemade" ad ends with a video of a toddler holding a device, her face staring blankly into its seductive glow. A super appears: "Have we lost touch with what is real?" It ends with one family's printed pieces attached with magnets to a refrigerator. Another super appears: "Get real." Finding truth in a brand message is the only meaningful way to connect with the public. And I believe this campaign is doing just that.

JEALOUS OF

Rich Silverstein: I find a lot of inspiration in movies, so I'd have to say Joker. I saw it two times in two days. Anyone who calls themselves an art director and hasn't seen this film is an idiot. From the opening scene to the last, the film is brilliant. And I haven't even mentioned the amazing spellbinding performance by (my choice for the Academy Award) Joaquin Phoenix. See it!

EXCITED BY

Jeff Goodby: For the first time ever, we used the controversial "deepfake" technology to serve a good cause for the Dalí Museum. Employing artificial intelligence, we brought a life-size Salvador Dalí back to life in three kiosks around the galleries. He offers to take a selfie with you in the final one, and when people see the photo on his phone, they lose their shit.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Jeff Goodby: I always look forward to the creation of new companies that will actually change the business and make things people celebrate. Who will be the next Dan Wieden, or for that matter, Mark Zuckerberg? Please, be the new and improved Mark Zuckerberg—quick!

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Grey

John Patroulis
Worldwide Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

"First Shave" for Gillette. Sometimes a brand's purpose is so clear, and an idea so true, it's best just to get out of the way in execution. This is one of those. Samson's willingness to share this pivotal life moment with the world in and of itself was pretty moving. Gillette's commitment to his story was unwavering. And the agency's multiple-office commitment to bringing it to life was internally electrifying. Gillette's willingness to sit in the crosshairs of culture all year, turning "The Best a Man Can Get" into a global expression of healthy masculinity, has been a transformative experience for everyone who has touched it. And the fact that they've backed it with action, partnership and support has helped it carry a purpose well beyond advertising. "Proud" is a word we often use in relation only to an idea and its expression. I think the bravery, cultural impact and searing honesty of this one is what has helped make it truly stand out for everyone involved.

JEALOUS OF

There are so many: "Billie Jean King Your Shoes" for its audacity, "The Truth Is Worth It" for its craft, "Keeping Fortnight Fresh" for its playfulness, "Ice Cream for Adults" for its tone, "Air Max Graffiti Stores" for its elegance, "Generation Lockdown" for its truthfulness. And the trailer for The Lighthouse for somehow creating a familiar but unknowable world in just its first few frames. There's more than I can ever list here, and all of them are proof that anyone who still questions the outsized value of exceptional creativity frankly doesn't know what the hell they're talking about.

EXCITED BY

A renewed focus on craft. There was a moment there where people seemed to believe our work was disposable, that filling the world with poorly assembled clutter would do the trick because it could be about speed and distribution instead of ideas and execution. But here's the thing: The internet means everything you make and put into the world actually lasts forever. And as an industry we should strive to make things that contribute, and that are worth lasting forever anyway. Our ideas, brands and audiences deserve it. It's exciting to see the industry recognizing the importance of that again.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Wildly expensive things made on ridiculously leisurely timeliness in an increasingly stable world. There is a slight chance I am wrong here.

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GSD&M

Jay Russell
Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Wars. I can't imagine having anything like this in my career again. The bar has been set depressingly high. It's a once-in-a-career experience.

JEALOUS OF

Between The New York Times' "The Truth Is Worth It" and Washington Post's "Democracy Dies in Darkness," I'm jealous about the power of those campaigns and how they made me, and so many others, think about journalism and truth. Talking about this is more important now than ever, and I'm glad it's a cultural conversation. I even got a "Democracy Dies in Darkness" T-shirt. I was willing to become a walking billboard.

EXCITED BY

Within the industry, I like that clients are going straight to the people who are making the ideas and getting their leadership there. Any of the BS in between is going away and leading to better work. There are vanishing layers. On top of that, roles that have been associated with titles are going away, and disciplines are overlapping in service of great ideas. Creatives are account people, strategists are creatives, etc.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

I predict there will be an onslaught of political advertising like we have never seen. We'll be inundated with the most intense ads—it will be interesting to see. Especially with platforms like Twitter removing political advertising. Creatively, however, the highlight of my year will be seeing my daughter in the children's version of Hamilton.

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GUT

Anselmo Ramos
Founder and Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

"Open Sunday" for Popeyes. We presented that idea at the very first creative presentation for Popeyes—it was a no-brainer. When Popeyes ran out of chicken sandwiches after the launch, we had to find a simple idea for the relaunch. And we felt "Open Sunday" was perfect for it. For a couple of reasons. 1) It was simple. The hype around the Popeyes chicken sandwich was real. So the last thing you wanted to do is to complicate it. 2) It was the perfect date. The return of The Sandwich (how some people would call it) would be on Nov. 3, National Sandwich Day, which was a Sunday. 3) It was just the facts. By just giving out the facts, and saying the sandwich would be available "On a Sunday. Yes, Sunday," we communicated a lot of things. The brand has never said so much by saying so little.

JEALOUS OF

"Generation Lockdown," March for Our Lives. It's so real and raw. There's nothing more powerful than reality. I'm choosing this particular project not only because of the creative idea but also because of the serious issue behind it. We're getting to a point that we're becoming numb to gun violence and just accepting it as a reality of living in the U.S. today. Gun violence is a human rights and public health crisis. And overall, our industry could help a lot more to shape the future of the country. So congrats to McCann New York for this powerful idea. Hopefully it inspired other agencies to help with this issue as well. It surely inspired us.

EXCITED BY

The return to big ideas and brand building. It's a great sign to see brands like Adidas and Old Navy publicly admitting that they might have spent too much on digital performance and discounts-driven marketing, and are shifting back their efforts to brand advertising. Yes, performance is essential. But the pendulum has swung too much in that direction. Brands need to find the right balance. It's not either/or, it's both. There's nothing more powerful and everlasting than brand building long term. Hopefully, other advertisers will follow suit.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

I have no idea what the future will look like. I feel our industry has more pundits and gurus trying to predict the future than people trying to make the present the best it can be. William Goldman (screenwriter, 1931-2018) said: "Nobody knows anything." He was talking about Hollywood (hence the number of sequels), but it applies to advertising as well. And that's the beauty of what we do. This continued uncertainty that even tons of data will never take away. So, my prediction for 2020 will be the same as 2021 or 2120: Big ideas will make the difference. What's a big idea? An idea that's 100 percent on brand positioning, that has never been done before, perfectly executed, and impossible to ignore or forget. It will be forever hard to find one of them.

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Interesting Development

Paul Caiozzo
Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

Vita Coco's "Impossible to Hate," where we found the most negative people in the world and asked them to try new Vita Coco Pressed. It was a simple idea that led to a few nice moments, including the now-infamous "Pee Jar" tweet.

JEALOUS OF

Rustlers, "The Seas Between Us," by Droga5 London. Getting mainstream media to write articles about a microwavable burger isn't easy. To do it with such a creative, interesting idea is even harder.

EXCITED BY

Data and machines fueling performance giving way to data and machines fueling creativity. We need to put things in front of consumers that they get more value out of.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

In this crowded, visual world, branding and design can be more conceptual, more interesting and do some of the work formerly reserved for advertising.

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Isobar

Ronald Ng
Global Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

2019 was another exciting creative year for Isobar, with innovative work coming from every region. Mexico, Australia, China and the Netherlands were our big hitters, striking metal at all the top award shows. Pick a favorite project? That's like choosing a favorite child—tough one. But we're really proud of the work from our China office for KFC Pocket Store. It's a pioneering example of creativity in commerce, an uncharted space for game-changing work. Tapping into the new phenomenon of "social commerce" on WeChat, 8 million Chinese have so far become virtual KFC franchisees. Pocket Store owners enjoy discounts and vouchers when they order from their friend's virtual stores, and one person has sold an incredible $1 million worth of KFC.

JEALOUS OF

You gotta love an idea that makes you cry, laugh, cheer and feel humbled all at once. Microsoft did all that with its "Changing the Game" campaign. And it wasn't just about what they said, but what they did. Before the Super Bowl spot, Microsoft introduced an adaptive controller for gamers of all shapes, sizes and abilities. I hope this makes every corporation jealous, too. We need more brands to behave this way.

EXCITED BY / LOOKING FORWARD TO

It sounds cliché to say A.I. and machine learning, but both will surely open new doors to exciting creative expressions in 2020, enabling customer experiences that truly differentiate and elevate brands. Whether they power innovation in voice, search, retail, social or other platforms, the potential A.I. and machine learning can offer is unlimited. Most importantly, it's not just about what technology can bring us. Every innovation needs to be personal, relevant and delightful—evolving the relationship between technology and humanity for the better. At Isobar, we say it's not just augmenting reality, but augmenting humanity.

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Joan Creative

Jaime Robinson
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

We came across this messed-up stat that women are 27 percent less likely to receive CPR from bystanders than men. What?! We discovered it was because people were 1) uncomfortable to touch women's breasts, 2) afraid to hurt women and 3) unaware that women suffer cardiac events. Since the vast majority of students are taught CPR on flat-chested dummies, there's no real experience anyone gets confronting this issue before it becomes a matter of life and death. We saw a way to raise awareness about this bias AND get people used to performing CPR on chests with breasts. We developed a sleeve that could attach to any universal CPR dummy, simulating the presence of breasts, and made the design open source. It's called the WoManikin. Within 72 hours of release, over 80 major news outlets worldwide picked up our story, and it was shared like crazy in social. The device is now being used in CPR training in several countries, and was just featured in a global resuscitation conference in Barcelona. Some high school seniors in Illinois are making them for every CPR school in their metro area. In fact, we're about to develop and mass produce our second prototype, in conjunction with a major NGO. It's really exciting to think this will have an impact on real women, globally.

JEALOUS OF

I liked this year's Met Gala and Vogue's coverage of it. Delightfully irreverent. Playful. Inclusive. Wild. Moment-making. Social-first. I loved the "Whopper Detour" for the same reasons. Same goes for the "Last Ever Issue" by VMLY&R Poland, which I had the pleasure to help award the Grand Prix to in Glass Lions this year. I just came back from Tokyo, where I happened upon a little custom punk-rock kimono store down a side street. Skulls, eagles and lightning bolts embroidered onto premium silk in the traditional kimono style. All of these ideas break rules, and that makes them glorious.

EXCITED BY

The explosion of creativity from ordinary people and undiscovered artists in social. I spend way too much time lurking on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter, and being amazed by the talent of human beings from all walks of life. We source a lot of talent from Instagram—it's a treasure trove of new, unsigned talent that doesn't look like the same old same old.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Who even knows? The pace of creativity and idea exchange is getting faster by the day. It's a new decade, which feels like a rebirth. Not to mention, we'll have A LOT to react to next year. Fuck the popcorn. Grab a stick of dynamite.

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Johannes Leonardo

Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico
Chief Creative Officers

PROUD OF

For us, being called upon by arguably the brand at the heart of the Creative Revolution to be part of their most difficult marketing and communications challenge to date is one of our highlights of 2019. Despite a major shift in the company's operations and product line, three and a half years after the TDI scandal, the wound was still open. We are extremely proud of our agency and the Volkswagen team for the unconventional and brave choices we made with "Hello Light." Like addressing the scandal head-on with the radio audio in the beginning, and opening on 20 seconds of black screen for the audience to empathize with what it must have been like for VW employees. It has helped the organization start the healing process, and within just a few months it has gotten brand consideration back to pre-scandal levels.

JEALOUS OF

"The Look" by Saturday Morning for P&G. For a big brand like P&G to tackle this issue head on is extremely courageous. It is a beautifully crafted piece of work that is built from raw emotions and tough moments.

EXCITED BY

The increasing awareness that chasing the next hot trend isn't the holy grail of advertising. We founded our agency in 2007 on this belief. It's exciting for us and is evidenced to some of our biggest client wins this year. Companies looking for courageous strategy and creativity to inform long-term brand building.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

The pendulum is swinging back again toward what matters: using creativity to help brands overcome consumer indifference.

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JSM Music

Joel Simon
CEO and Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

Picking one project, out of so many amazing ones, is really fucking difficult. If I were to pick one, it would be Microsoft's Super Bowl project "Changing the Game" with m:united and McCann New York. That spot was born from Microsoft's holiday spot, "Reindeer Games," we had previously worked on. It was the continuation of the story of Owen, who is physically challenged with a very rare condition called Escobar syndrome, and how, as a result of Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller, he and all other kids with various physical disabilities could play and compete like everyone else. This wasn't like working on a traditional product spot which touts the amazing unique attributes of the item. This was about a massive brand reaching out to an untraditional, small demographic of forgotten people and improving their lives, giving them confidence and doing what they can to be part of a solution, for everyone, regardless of their physical limitations. There were even online unboxing videos, as the packaging was as unique as the product, the idea and the execution. A truly extraordinary experience to be a part of.

JEALOUS OF

By nature, the last thing I am is a jealous person. I keep myself grounded and at peace in being thankful for what I can do, what I have done and what I could do if given the opportunity. If anything, when I see something that blows me away, it reminds me of why I am in this business and what I aspire to create and be a part of. I was very impressed with The New York Times campaign "The Truth Is Worth It" from Droga5. The news media, as an industry, has come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny in the past few years, so to attempt to cut through all the bullshit and toxic divisiveness and see how journalists attempt to get through to the truth, was extremely brave and deserves recognition and respect. From a craft standpoint, the work is spectacular on all levels from each and every discipline—concept, direction, editorial, sound and, ultimately, execution. It's compelling, thought provoking and extremely powerful.

EXCITED BY

The trend I find most exciting in the industry is how more and more projects creatively go well beyond the traditional broadcast medium. Projects continue to have more assets behind them, such as online videos, long form, experiential, mobile and interactive solutions and executions. Multi-faceted, entertaining, participatory work that engages consumers, making them more of a participant than simply a viewer, is awesome. Ultimately, these projects make it into the mainstream news outlets and get reported on as they weave their way into pop culture.

A project such as FCB's "Whopper Detour" for Burger King was a brilliant, fun idea that saw tremendous success with users going crazy for the app and ultimately bringing it from No. 686 to No. 1 on both iOS and Android within two days of project launch. And although it's been a couple of years since its launch, McCann's "Fearless Girl" for State Street stands permanently right outside my studios in NYC's Financial District and has become as much of a tourist and local destination and attraction as any other physical installation NYC or the country has to offer. That's pretty fucking incredible. It's a very exciting and creatively fertile time to be in this industry, and I look forward to being a part of all of it.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

I predict that brands and agencies in 2020 will continue to create more work that is purpose driven, elucidating the culture and beliefs of their brand, as opposed to just marketing the attributes of individual products or services. Brands that will utilize unique creative ideas and executions to connect with the consumer on, for example, more social, educational and environmental issues will build longstanding loyalty on a more visceral and meaningful level. Examples are from brands like Verizon "First Responders—The Team That Wouldn't Be Here," Carrefour "Black Supermarket," Microsoft "Changing the Game" and Ikea "ThisAbles."

Consumers want to trust with whom they engage and frequent. With all of the viable options out there, in every category, consumers, now more than ever, want to feel that there is a commonality of thought and purpose with the brands they embrace. To achieve that is through hardcore strategy, research in mitigating the risks of potentially alienating a demographic on what purpose your brand supports, and more importantly, how to reach those consumers in the most creative, positive and impactful ways.

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Leo Burnett

Liz Taylor
Global Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

Since I split 2019 between two jobs, I'm going with one from each. Both use the power of creativity to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. The Gun Violence History Book by FCB Chicago. America has a tragic history of gun violence. But sadly, we've yet to learn the lessons of the past. The book became a powerful symbol and an education tool within Chicago schools. A way that would hopefully help people and policymakers learn a lesson from history and turn the page on violence in the U.S. Made from over 200 years of gun violence. The book has done what history has been unable to do: Stop a bullet. "Eva Stories" by Leo Burnett Israel. A Holocaust story for the social media generation. Based on a diary kept by the real Eva Heyman in 1944, 70 episodes take followers along on her harrowing journey. An innovative, provocative, exquisitely crafted effort to engage screen-hooked post-millennials in Holocaust education and remembrance as the last generation of survivors is dying out.

JEALOUS OF

The New York Times, "The Truth Is Worth It." Best product demo of all time. The importance of investigative reporting and the relentless pursuit of truth brought to life in film, print, experiential, podcasts. So f'ing good, it hurts. In a world of fake news, the timing and execution of this work was flawless. 

Adidas, "Billie Jean King Your Shoes." Smart. Fun. Empowering. An icon. Some stencils. Spray paint. Hacking the competition. Voila. Simplicity wins. They could have re-released her shoe, but that's not very BJK'y.

EXCITED BY

All the new ways in which content in consumed. Digital technology has created unlimited ways for how people find, consume and share content. What we do hasn't necessarily changed—we still need to create ideas that capture people's imaginations—but the where and how we do it keeps evolving. I get incredibly geeked out by that.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Being part of an industry that champions diversity. From who we hire to how we are structured to who we cast to the stories we tell. Advertising has yet to hit its stride when it comes to gender and ethnic representation. The only way to reflect the world we are aspiring to shape is to embrace diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Embrace and champion. Not just talk about it. 

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LOLA MullenLowe

Tomás Ostiglia
Executive Creative Director

PROUD OF

As the year is ending, we have a lot to be proud of, but there are two campaigns that really stand out—one for Pescanova and the other for Toys R Us (both will be launching for the holidays). They fill me with pride, because they truly reflect the growth of our young team and the sharpening of an agency vision we established at the beginning of the year: Tell stories that emotionally connect with people, and generate business by building brands through the channels we have available today. No small feat when you're talking about a frozen seafood brand and a toy brand on the brink. I am very proud of the people who are with me on this adventure; we work together and never settle. They never give up until they find the best possible solution, and I believe they are way more important than any one project.

JEALOUS OF

"Dream Crazy" from Nike, without a doubt. The whole campaign makes me insanely jealous, but the headline alone—"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything"—makes it my favorite project. I love it from every angle and I am very envious because it is brave, pure and also a perfectly integrated campaign scaled to immense size. It began with an Instagram post and did not stop growing, integrating all the right platforms and aligning with the storytelling in a fluid dialogue with people, from the haters burning Nike shoes and posting the videos to celebrities manifesting spontaneously in favor of the brand. A true example of Communication with capital letters.

EXCITED BY

I'm excited about brands taking on the challenge of creating more content. I love seeing communicators begin to better understand what stories are behind the brands, which ones really add value when motivating a purchase and generating greater enthusiasm when it comes to taking out your money and spending it on them. Stories from the Airbnb Community, Poetry and Paint for The New Yorker, and Doc Martens Rebel Soles, to name a few examples. I like it when I start seeing really interesting brand content, which is not arbitrary but has everything to do with the brand narrative.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

I used to want to predict the future, but now I want to try to influence it in my own small way by using creativity. So, in terms of advertising, I hope that we keep following the trend to revere, build up and respect those who are creators and those who love creativity. That way, the advertising that we do every day will seem a lot less like advertising, and that's a good thing.

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The Many

Josh Paialii
Creative Director

PROUD OF

Working with the amazing team at Netflix Creative Studio was a fun way to spend the early part of 2019. One of the trailer concepts we developed for the series Love, Death & Robots was a real highlight. How do you promote an 18-episode anthology of mind-melting fun from the brains of Tim Miller and David Fincher (especially knowing that they're the clients approving the scripts)? You lean into the mind-meltiness of it all. Our minute-long anti-trailer threw all of the traditional rules of a series preview out the window. From the editorial explosion of frames, to the aggressively appropriate track, to the WTF-did-I-just-watch moment at the end, it brought the show's promise of complete sensory overload to life in a way that no other show could. Beyond the fan love it immediately received, getting to work with the phenomenally talented editor Gabe Diaz made the experience a memorable one.

JEALOUS OF

Jersey Assurance from American Express was a campaign that really made me jealous. Not just because it resonated with me as a lifelong NBA fan with multiple decades-old jerseys in my closet, but it was one of those simple and fun ideas that made you think: How has no one thought of this yet? The insight was brilliant, especially in an age where kids follow players more than they do teams and players get traded more frequently. Insuring a player's jersey is insuring a new love for that player for maybe years to come. When a creative idea truly becomes a meaningful brand behavior—one that gets a whole new generation of kids who don't even use credit cards yet hyped about American Express—you can't help but tip your hat.

EXCITED BY

It's impossible to ignore the tidal wave of esports and gaming entertainment today, and it seemed not so long ago that branded partnerships in this industry were limited to energy drinks, snack foods, gaming hardware and internet providers. But just in the last few months, major brands like Nike, Adidas, Honda, Lexus, Louis Vuitton, State Farm, Mastercard, the NFL, Anheuser-Busch and so many more have all placed big bets on gaming. And they certainly won't be the last. As brands look to tell entirely new stories to new audiences in all-new channels, I'm excited to see them look to gaming as door blown wide open for content.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Well, I'd be remiss not to mention that the 2020 election is going to play a major role in the way brands and agencies behave next year. But I predict that brands will have the biggest influence on a local level. Not just taking stands on general policies or even the top of the ticket, but the specific measures affecting individual communities. We've become surgical in the way we can hypertarget audiences. If brands are brave enough to stand for something in 2020, they might just benefit from staying laser-focused. In the spirit of not starting another holiday dinner debate though, I'll give you one more prediction for 2020. TikTok. All the TikTok brand pages your little heart desires.

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The Martin Agency

Anne Marie Hite
Group Creative Director

PROUD OF

We launched our first work for CarMax this year with a campaign that brought humanity and humor to a category normally not associated with such words. Our launch video featured real people with bumper stickers that mean something to them—from being a proud foster parent to thinking sundried tomatoes are a culinary disaster. I'm especially proud that we were able to convince Fred Durst to do a cameo in a spot that showed a mom whose CD player was stuck playing "I did it all for the Nookie." Fred was quite lovely to work with, BTW.

JEALOUS OF

I love everything about "The Truth Is Worth It" campaign for The New York Times. It's so powerful and beautifully executed. It also gives a nice perspective when we complain about how hard our jobs are!

EXCITED BY

I love that we are using our creativity for good. The Tampon Book that draws attention to the absurdity of the luxury goods tax. The Hidden Flag in Russia for LGBTQ+ pride. The March for Our Lives "Generation Lockdown" video for gun safety. We've come a long way from cornflakes commercials!

LOOKING FORWARD TO

The more scattered we become, the more important it is for brands to have cultural relevance, stickiness and talk value. It's kind of like you either need to be brave or risk being irrelevant. That's a pretty exciting prospect.

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McCann

Eric Silver
Chief Creative Officer, North America

PROUD OF

Three projects I was proud of this year revolved around simplicity and utility.

The Adaptive Controller for Xbox showcased Microsoft's commitment to building accessible technology that leveled the playing field. The Super Bowl story of Owen and other passionate gamers enjoying games that were previously too daunting felt like a nice marriage of technology meeting humanity.

Generation Lockdown. In the U.S., school shootings have become so common that over 95 percent of public-school children now practice lockdown drills. We asked an 11-year-old girl to share what she learned in school with a group of adults in California. Their reactions said everything. How did we get to this point? And how do we get out of this?

Teddy Repair for Lysol. Laundry sanitizer is probably not the first thing you think of when you think of creative opportunity, which is precisely what excited us about this one. Eighty percent of kids' stuffed animals are covered in harmful bacteria. We created a program to help fix and disinfect stuffed animals. And then, we built a tracker so kids could follow their teddies every step of the way, until they were sent back home. Repaired. And cleaned.

JEALOUS OF

"Dream Crazy" was pretty darn good, but what I am consistently in awe of is the Nike brand and its custodians. Nike has been so good for so long. We are coming up on three decades of Nike taking a very simple thread, accompanied by three simple words, and consistently finding new ways to redefine it. The marketing has been so on point, we take for granted that the product has almost become superfluous. I don't know if there is another advertiser that has raised the bar so high, so consistently.

At McCann, we are constantly on the lookout for new inventions, activations and ways to intercept culture that have never been done before. Wieden seems quite happy to do it the old-fashioned way, with film, but absolutely amazing film.

EXCITED BY

I have been doing this for a while now, and the thing that still most excites me is the industry's ability to charter new ground. The "Advertising Is Dead" headline is so lazy and boring. Think about it. A decade or so ago, would we have predicted that direct, data and healthcare were going to be the most creatively bountiful categories? And it wasn't so long ago that a prediction of fast food and insurance being the most entertaining marketing would have surely been beyond our grasp.

I personally get most excited about doing work in categories where our initial, visceral reaction might be to shy away from it. Historically, the trap many creatives fall into is to run to seemingly comfortable terrain, such as sports or beer. It is precisely that comfort that is going to make surprising work very challenging.

There are still a lot of great thinkers in our industry. Predictions from pundits are likely to continue to be disproven.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Whether a recession happens or not in 2020, I believe clients will start to be more cautious with their advertising dollars. I actually think this will be advantageous for the best agencies. When every dollar matters, every idea will be scrutinized and vetted to make sure it is strategically sound and gives a sure return on investment. These are generally the ingredients for the very best creative. It will keep agencies honest, nimble and brave to ensure the work stands out.

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Merkley + Partners

Chris Landi
Group Creative Director

PROUD OF

Pride's a weird one. "Most Proud" means there's a "Least Proud." I try not to think in those terms. So, to turn a phrase, this year I was "Really Into" a holiday social film called "Mercedes-Benz of North Pole." Nearly four minutes in length, no creative restrictions and a brief by a pretty tough client to "Go have some fun." Whoa. The internet has been around for like 30 years now, but it can still feel like the Wild West to me. It's full of desperados, dysentery and turn card cheats, but there's this wide open space to create and explore. This project was like that.

JEALOUS OF

I've got a problem with "Jealous Of" too. It's not a way to work with others and really bad for the complexion. But OK, shut up Landi and answer the question. I was "Jealous Of" the cyberbullying effort called "The Epidemic." "Bullying is bad" seems like an easy layup of a message, but it's hard to get across without feeling strident and a little preachy (looking at you, Gillette) or shoulder-shrugging and ineffective (looking at you, Melania.) "The Epidemic" feels real, unforced and genuinely thought-provoking.

EXCITED BY

In 2019, I was "Excited By" by Hong Kong protestors using social media to turn a localized rally about extradition into a globally watched humanitarian movement. One with the stones to take on the world's largest totalitarian state. No matter how it turns out, it don't get no more creative and inspiring than that.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

"You way of life is over," screamed the skywriter to the sandwich board guy on the street corner. People have been predicting the death of our business for a pretty long time. But there's always going to be a new way to get the word out. And someone's still got to write "the word," be it served up in tomorrow's multi-metric holistic platform of augmented reality or today's 30 seconds of air time on CSI: Hoboken purchased by a media planner with the faint odor of gimlet on his breath. I look forward to whatever the future brings to our business. With the same hope and optimism I held in my heart stepping off the elevator this morning.

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M/H VCCP

John Matejczyk
Chief Creative Officer

PROUD OF

My proudest creative moment of 2019 was a geo-tech powered music video to help find missing kids—"Runaway Train 25" for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Some background: 25 years ago, the band Soul Asylum and director Tony Kaye released the famous "Runaway Train" music video. It featured photos and names of real missing kids from the NCMEC database and helped recover some of them. But it was one video for the whole country. Missing children, however, is largely a local issue with kids usually found in the same state where they went missing. Some are abducted, some lured away by sex traffickers, others run away and are later exploited.

Our idea was to recreate the video on its 25th anniversary with emerging artists and new technology that shows currently missing kids in the area where the video is being viewed. It was a massive undertaking, years in development, with enormously talented creative partners across the board from the music industry to data technologists. It gained remarkable national coverage, but even more important, local coverage across the country. We have now found kids and reunited them with their families. We're not at liberty to share the numbers, due to the sensitivity involved.

JEALOUS OF

As a Wall Street Journal fan, and having worked on the brand years ago, their new "Read Yourself Better" campaign definitely made me jealous. I'm sure it was motivated by a bit of jealousy on their part toward the brilliantly edited New York Times campaign. The WSJ, with more balanced coverage, needed to make their statement. But how do you make a bold statement in a polarizing time when you're not trying to line up with a pole and demonize the other?

"Read yourself past the bias." "Read yourself past the clickbait." "Read yourself past the hashtags." It's all bang on for the brand and put together with a beautifully compelling film by Juan Cabral. It empathizes with the brain-mush we all feel when we consume news in a torrent of bits and pieces and polemics, and offers a deeper, more insightful alternative. Making me even more jealous, it was done by an agency I had never heard of—The&Partnership. Well done.

EXCITED BY

Production value, craft, editing, mixed video, adventurous storytelling, challenger brands, fintech, blockchain, the TikTok community, the collective realization that we can all play a role in improving the internet, the rise of design, the Hong Kong uprising, Epstein didn't kill himself, the fall of ugly retail, the spread of navigable websites, design-driven businesses, the encouragingly deterrent effects of #MeToo, the new generation, Swedish creatives, the iPhone 11 camera, taste.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

I don't want to get overly optimistic, because I falsely predicted this last year too, but let's hope we can be done with woke-washing. The overreaching latching-on of brands to causes. It has been the anti-creativity that a more appropriately skeptical creative generation would have laughed out of the room. "You want your razors to combat toxic masculinity? Ha!" "You want your child-obesity-causing sugar cereal to advocate for LGBTQ?" Blank stare. (Well, to be fair, Kellogg's was founded on a brand purpose.)

Much of the work coming out of this bandwagon has been two-dimensional anti-craft. As if the simple act of claiming your virtue was all it took. Job done. As Hal Riney once told a creative team, "It's not supposed to be that easy." Awards juries are now honoring work unrelated to craft because they align with stated values. Why bother with genuine creative work? Or as the Wall Street Journal editorialized, "... many customers no doubt chuckle at the idea of seeking moral instruction from a corporate marketing department." No, thank you. I'm looking forward to high-craft, high-concept authentic creative work in 2020.

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Mister Sweat

Jeff Sweat
Founder

PROUD OF

Normally we promote other people's work, but this year we got a chance to make our own. In March, we launched Mayfly Quest, a book-marketing campaign for my postapocalyptic novel Mayfly. Book publishing rarely mounts the kind of campaigns that marketers do for entertainment and brands, focusing on getting books into the hands of people who weren't already fans. The focus of #MayflyQuest was reaching people who didn't know they should be fans.

The quest expands upon traditional online scavenger hunts by hacking Google Maps with 360-degree VR images of Los Angeles landmarks that have been "apocalypsized" and populated with clues. The hunt also includes radio emergency broadcast signals that dramatize a story taking place in the world of Mayfly. I'm proud of the way it turned out. But I also learned I'd much rather be creating work for someone else!

JEALOUS OF

This one just snuck under the wire—or should I say "snicked"? I'm a sucker for simple campaigns that bring an outsized response, so I loved when Snickers swapped its candy bars in France for Bounty bars. The actual ad associated with "Snickersgate" is solid (it probably reads better in French), but the genius is in the act itself. Replacing something people love with something most people hate? That's just sneaky and mean and delightful enough for my taste.

EXCITED BY

We've been wrestling with the agency model being broken for years now. Each new agency trend has promised to be the answer to the problems we all see in the system. Right now, agencies seem to be opening their minds—and models—even further, shifting to hybrid agencies or redefining "consultancy" in the shape of the kind of business they want to do. The challenges in our industry are requiring agencies to be proactive and inventive. The exciting part is that those are the exact attributes that make people successful in advertising, so I can't wait to see what happens next.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

People aren't forced to sit through ads anymore, which means that if any advertising is going to break through, people have to want to talk about it. Agencies and brands get this, I think, but for the most part no one has been building PR into what they create. I think that's going to change this year, not because we're getting smarter but because there won't be a choice. We're going to see more beautiful films, more experiences that grab people, more brands acting upon their beliefs. The question I always ask creatives is, "Would I share this if I wasn't getting paid to work on it?" More and more, the answer is going to have to be yes.

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MOCEAN

Michael McIntyre
President

PROUD OF

The Daybreak campaign for Netflix. Truly a collaborative project with our clients. We were able to use the best of MOCEAN across all our capabilities, original concept creative, special shoot, editorial, key art, music, digital/social and motion graphics for a true integrated "360" campaign. It turned out great and it was a blast!

JEALOUS OF

I know I'm not alone on this one, but the Game of Thrones/Bud Knight tie-in was pretty epic. I also though the whole Joker campaign was something really special. Yes, the original material was great, but the thoughtful/confident way the campaign rolled out was perfect. Incredible use of tone, audio and attitude.

EXCITED BY

It's truly an incredible time for our business. More and more, the gloves seem to be off, and what was once unheard of—e.g., the GOT/Bud Knight spot to even licensing Led Zeppelin for a trailer (a personal favorite)—is on the table. Yes, it takes more to reach our "short attention span" fellow humans, but that is pushing all of us to take chances and up our game.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Boy, I can't give away our trade secrets! Maybe a follow-up Walking Dead/Bud Knight zombie co-branded Super Bowl spot??? More seriously, I think we will see further crossover marketing between traditional brands and entertainment. Also, a push back toward mid-form and long-form content. Our short attention spans aren't getting longer, but audiences are consuming great storytelling in completely new ways and on new platforms. Bravo. PS: Other considerations for co-branded 2020 spots: Schlitz Creek. Bojack-in-the-Box Horseman. Captain Demogorgon.

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Mother London

Ana Balarin
Executive Creative Director

PROUD OF

Our animated series for Elvie's Pelvic Floor Trainer, called "Bobo & Bladder." It was a small project that didn't get as much attention as our bigger hits like KFC's Gravy Candle or IKEA's Christmas film, but it was just as funny and topical. A comedic musical micro series in which the episodes never get going because the hero's bladder leaks as they're about to embark on adventures like visiting Trampoline Land or Getting the Giggles. There are so many topics surrounding women's health that are still taboo—fertility, periods, menopause, incontinence, pregnancy, breastfeeding—that every chance we have to talk about them is important.

JEALOUS OF

I really loved the simplicity of a scheme called "Pay It Forward," a collaboration between The Big Issue, a magazine sold by the homeless in the U.K., and Monzo, the digital bank. Through very simple and accessible technology they made every Big Issue magazine resellable, so that readers could pass them on after reading. Most people are charitable, and sometimes the smallest change—like including a sticker with a QR code on the cover of a magazine—can remove a huge barrier and lead to behavior change.

EXCITED BY

What got us really excited internally this year was witnessing how far a small idea can reach when you give away creative control. A few months ago we were briefed by the U.K. Student Climate Network to get people involved in the Global Climate Strikes in September. There was no client as such (if you don't count the environment), no media buy and no production budget. They just wanted a thought that people could embrace, build upon and make their own. The resulting campaign, which was essentially two words alluding to the urgency of the climate crisis—Tick Tock—quickly took on a life of its own. From protest placards popping up across the globe and Greta Thunberg adopting it on video messages, to Billie Eilish designing an outfit made out of the logo and posting it on her social media accounts, it was humbling to see these amazing executions we had no control over, born out of a simple thought we created.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

More of all of the above: generosity, simplicity, women's health in the spotlight.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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