12 Campaigns That Show How TBWA Sparked Conversations Worldwide in 2018

A look back at the work from Adweek's Global Agency of the Year

With 'Where Do You Draw the Line?', TBWA-owned Lucky Generals highlights how conversations can quickly descend into workplace harassment.
Lucky Generals

Pulling off stellar creative around the globe is a big ask of any agency, in part because of the massive level of talent required—but also because there’s no single formula that can be copied and pasted across multiple regions with equal success.

That’s part of what got the attention of Adweek’s selection committee in the process of determining 2018’s Global Agency of the Year. Our editors and writers were struck by the diversity and range of work from TBWA\Worldwide, which also showed a consistent level of quality and innovation across its many offices. In recognition of this work—along with TBWA’s behind-the-scenes work strengthening its leadership across major markets and its ongoing evolution to meet clients’ changing needs—Adweek named TBWA as this year’s global agency honoree.

Even if you’re an advertising addict, chances are you’ve missed some of the international creativity that TBWA’s offices have had on display this year. So here’s a look back at some of the campaigns that showed the local resonance, cultural impact and innovative thinking that earned TBWA top global honors for 2018:

Amazon | Alexa Loses Her Voice

Office: Lucky Generals (U.K.)

With perfect comedic timing and a wonderfully surprising roster of celebrity cameos, this 90-second Super Bowl spot helped bring some humanity, warmth and quirkiness to a brand that typically has a drier, more transactional relationship with its fans. Developed by Lucky Generals, a London agency startup acquired by TBWA in early 2017,  the spot crammed a lot of product integration into a simple storyline without making it feel cluttered and salesy.

The results were substantial: According to an analysis by social analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, “Alexa Loses Her Voice” was the most-discussed ad of the Super Bowl (more than doubling online discussions of Tide’s ad blitz) and No. 2 for all of 2018—surpassed only by Nike’s polarizing Colin Kaepernick ads.

Helsingin Sanomat | Land of Free Press

Office: TBWA\Helsinki (Finland)

When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met for a summit in Helsinki, Finland, this July, local newspaper Helsingin Sanomat was ready and waiting. The media outlet worked with TBWA\Helsinki and outdoor ad networks Clear Channel and JCDecaux to create a series of ads that would be visible all long the world leaders’ routes from the airport. “Mr. President, welcome to the land of free press,” noted one digital display, while others featured headlines—in English and Russian—about how Trump and Putin have butted heads with or tried to stymie independent news outlets. “The media shouldn’t be the lap dog of any president or regime,” Kaius Niemi, editor in chief of the newspaper, said at the time of the campaign.

Joburg Ballet | Breaking Ballet

Office: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris (South Africa)

Think of all the words you’d use to describe ballet, and “relevant” likely isn’t one of them. South Africa’s Joburg Ballet set about trying to fix that gap in cultural connection by creating Breaking Ballet, a series of short dance videos that tackled the trending topics of the moment, from #MeToo and the March for Our Lives movement to Black Panther and Game of Thrones. The videos, created with TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, clock in around 2 minutes or less—which turns out to be plenty time to highlight how much ballet still has to say.

Apple | Welcome Home

Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

What’s left to be said about this short film, music video, performance art piece and product demonstration all wrapped in one? Directed by Spike Jonze and starring rising superstar FKA twigs (whose wide-ranging skills and fashion-forward outfits inspired the character “Kamilah” on NBC’s The Good Place), the ad for Apple’s HomePod brought a new level of creative ambition to Apple’s recent marketing, especially thanks to its heavy reliance on practical effects rather than digital trickery.

Hostelworld | Even Divas Are Believers

Office: Lucky Generals (U.K.)

How do you get people to reconsider how they perceive something as mired in stereotypes as hostels? One solution might be to book the least likely guest imaginable: Mariah Carey. The diva drops by a surprisingly upscale Hostelworld location in a spot that may have gotten less attention than Lucky Generals’ other 2018 celebrity outing, “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” but it also highlights the unexpected ways the agency found to leverage megatalent.

Louvre Abu Dhabi | Highway Gallery

Office: TBWA\RAAD

When the Louvre opened an official extension in Abu Dhabi last year, it obviously wanted to get as much attention as possible—while also sparking interest in a European-style museum experience. The result, created with the Dubai office of TBWA\RAAD, was Highway Gallery. The radio-enabled roadside art exhibit used short-range audio transmissions to tell thousands of motorists each day about classical works while driving the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

AIG | Pride Jersey

Office: TBWA\Hakuhodo

Part inclusivity campaign, part product innovation, the Pride Jersey used textile wizardry to turn seemingly black fabric into a rainbow when stretched by those wearing it.  The shirts were demonstrated by New Zealand male and female rugby teams the All Blacks and Black Ferns as part of AIG Japan’s Diversity is Strength campaign.

McDonald’s | 50 Years of Big Mac

Office: TBWA\Zurich and TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

McDonald’s 50th anniversary of the Big Mac gave the fast food chain (and its many agencies) plenty of marketing fuel this year. One of TBWA’s contributions was this collection of wide-ranging, uniquely stylized posters that contrast the old with the new to convey how the burger has endured through eras and fads.

Apple: Three Minutes

TBWA\Media Arts Lab

There’s no question that China is one of the most important markets where any brand wants to be making headway, especially in the smartphone space, where local brands Huawei, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi are all power players. So while “Welcome Home” and Apple’s holiday ad, “Share Your Gifts,” may be TBWA\Media Arts Lab’s most high-profile spots from this year, the biggest win strategically might have been “Three Minutes,” a story of a fleeting family reunion shot by Peter Chan solely using an iPhone X. The Shanghai office of Media Arts Lab was recently named Spikes Asia’s Agency of the Year for 2018 and won four China One Show golds.

Nissan | #SheDrives

Office: TBWA\RAAD

Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited decision to allow women to drive this year came with no small amount of family tension within the country, where many men still felt the driver’s seat was no place for their wife or daughter. While many marketers released work celebrating the turning point, Nissan and TBWA\RAAD confronted the issue of family support directly with the #SheDrives campaign, which featured husbands and fathers surprising women by showing up as their driving coaches. The resulting footage shows a wide range of reactions and tones—and also shows guys still have a ways to go in terms of putting their full faith in the women they love. But #SheDrives also feels commendably real and human, and it avoids taking the easy road of creating a fictional spot that celebrates the moment without showing the mixed feelings it has generated.

Asha Ek Foundation | Blink to Speak

Office: TBWA\India

Many diseases and injuries leave their victims with little ability to communicate, and high-tech solutions simply aren’t affordable or available for everyone who would benefit from them. So the Asha Ek Foundation, a nonprofit focused on helping treat motor neuron disease, worked with TBWA\India to create Blink to Speak, a new form of communication that relies on eye movement. Since eye function is typically one of our last systems lost when facing such diseases, the new visual language helps patients around the world communicate quickly with medical professionals and loved ones. The Blink to Speak system and vocabulary were shared for free online to help anyone who might need them.

timeTo: Where Do You Draw the Line?

Lucky Generals (U.K.)

While it wasn’t a consumer effort, the “Where Do You Draw the Line?” campaign, supporting anti-harassment effort timeTo, was a perfectly crafted message for the advertising industry in 2018. Rather than simply saying “harassment is bad,” the campaign from Lucky Generals highlights the gray areas in professional scenarios and how conversations can quickly turn from cordial to questionable to outright disgusting. In both print and video, the campaign uses lines to ask where a conversation should end—and then shows how far such statements can descend when left unchecked.

Check out the rest of our 2018 Agency of the Year coverage here:

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