Matt Franks

Global Strategy and Planning Director, dentsu X

What's the most inspiring thing you've seen?

It’s interesting how purpose is still very much front and centre for a lot of the awarded campaigns but I think now that purpose is coming through with an element of profit beneath. And it’s interesting how a lot of the campaigns are very much considering all of the stakeholders in their business and the stakeholders that their business interacts with and it’s really come through in all of the richness of the creativity and it shows that they’re thinking much broader than the bottom line now.

What surprised you?

I think the most surprising thing about the entries that I’m seeing is they’re taking on social challenges. So all of the campaigns seem to be very much not around, “right, we just need to make some money and it’s short termist.”

For instance, the Womb Stories from Spain is such a wonderful demonstration around the scale of the thinking of these campaigns and the ambition of what the agencies have set out to achieve. It’s no longer a short-termist approach, it’s really about changing mindset, it’s changing communities and sometimes changing governments’ perspectives on things. It’s such a wonderful realisation of that in these awards entries I’m seeing today.

What work really impressed you?

The Beco ‘Steal Our Staff’ I think is the standout creative entry for me. It was entered into the Health and Wellness category - I think it could have been in any category and the stunning quality of both the design work and the ambition of the campaign and what it achieved.

So, it hasn’t just given a voice to an under-represented disabled community, it’s also driven awareness for the brand, it’s also driven profitability, it’s driven changes in business behaviour and it’s all done by a small brand, by a small agency in London. I think it’s an amazing achievement. I think visually it’s stunning. It isn’t just like a traditional charity campaign, it’s driven by a business that’s looking to raise actual investment, money, profitability.

I would recommend it to everybody to go look and at the case study for this because it really is the high watermark of what we really need to be achieving. It’s no longer about leads, sales, clicks, it really needs to be about changing mindsets, building businesses that grow for the future.

What have you seen that will have the biggest implications for our industry over the next 12 months?

The biggest implication for the industry is that you can’t just focus on short-termist approaches that ignore everyone else but the shareholders. That’s archaic thinking - it needs to be brought up to date to really embrace a wider perspective of all of your stakeholders, including your staff.

Many of these campaigns really do embrace everyone in the company coming together to drive forward their business. It isn’t about the bottom line anymore, it’s about thinking about the wider context in which you’re operating. I think the essence of design-led thinking and that really propels the campaign to cut through in a market full of noise is really about how campaigns win and engage and really drive value for a business.

Fundamentally, in the pandemic era, the best way that campaigns can really have resonance is by utilising the emotion and almost the nostalgic emotion that people have forgotten or longed for that really touches into a human truth and brings that out in the campaign. And that’s all these campaigns have really focused on: mothering, empathy, consideration for pollution, your children’s future. It’s all in these campaigns and it’s so wonderful to see and I think that’s where campaigns need to be for the future.