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LFG: 2023’s Creative Cri de Coeur



Ideas that are stronger, more interesting, less self-indulgent and a damn site braver - are we ready to go boldly?

LFG: 2023’s Creative Cri de Coeur

What’s on your advertising wishlist for 2023? For a number of industry leaders, they’re gunning for a year packed with brave, bold and meaningful ideas. So… are you ready?

Trevor Robinson, Founder, Quiet Storm

"I would like to see some significant changes in the coming year. The first is to see bigger ideas with a bit more depth. 2022 showed us some truly glossy and visually impressive work, but the messages have been weaker and less memorable underneath that treat for the eyes. There’s no point in spending a lot of money to create something with no real message or thought behind it.
With so much happening in the world today, from the climate crisis, war, and recession, there’s a lot to talk about, and we should be reflecting the time and experiences of real people. This doesn’t mean we have to dwell on the negative, but we must match our impressive visuals with an equally remarkable story and give people what they need. Maybe this needs more research, more panels and a greater understanding of our audiences and how they feel so we can design appropriate and memorable work. A diversity of perspectives in meeting rooms is also an important factor that will help achieve more thoughtful and representative work, which relates to real people.
Following this, I want to see more diversity in our industry. Maybe I say this every year, but it is still something we all need to work towards. I want to see more people of colour leading agencies, at desks and in the work, influencing what we do daily. It can’t be a token meeting once a month but rather a part of the business. With the possibilities of business cuts and a recession on the horizon, it also has to be safeguarded because it’s vital to our industry if we want to talk to real-world audiences in authentic and representative ways. We are making progress but we can’t get bored of the conversation around diversity. Especially when it makes business sense.

Rob Campbell, CSO, Colenso BBDO

Simple question. 150-250 words. How hard could it be? 

Well, based on how long it’s taken me to write this… very hard. 

Part of it is because I know what I’d like to see in 2023 is probably very similar to what everyone else has said they’d like to see. Except they will have written it brilliantly and frankly, I don’t need them to help me feel disappointed with myself. So instead, I decided to write a true story. 

Recently a European-based creative school asked if I’d talk to their students about how best prepare to enter the industry. 

I was really honoured to be asked but also conscious that - as a ‘senior’ old white man - it would be hard to give objective advice given my entire career has benefited from my privilege. 

So I decided to try and offer something usable. By that I mean find something that would be beneficial regardless of heritage, gender, geography, or discipline. I narrowed it down to this: 

How can I help the next generation of advertising people learn how to deal with the current generation of advertising people? 

I did it in one page. 

Put simply, I’d like to see a lot more creatively interesting in 2023. 

If you want to know how we can do it, read what everyone else said far better than I ever could.


Paul Shearer, CCO Global Clients, Wunderman Thompson

As we look forward to 2023, what I would like to see from the creative work as well as the industry itself is for adland to get back to producing more ideas with legs.

There is nothing better than seeing an idea everywhere forever and forever. Classic examples like the Oxo family, Nike, the freestyle of the brilliant Meerkat campaign. And my shameless plug for our KitKat and HSBC work - well it’s the time for sharing.

I know these days media opportunities have grown to ginormous proportions, so you might be forgiven for saying it’s harder to be everywhere. But I love to see ideas that have that incredible ability to spin into wild organic growth. These ideas don’t need a media plan. They just burst into the world like a TikTok dance.

We seem to have developed a ‘run it and do something else’ mentality. I have heard some people in the industry say “consumers have got bored with this now”. Maybe it’s that the idea was boring in the first place?
Of course, it’s not that easy to crack the holy grail of brilliant big and long-lasting ideas. But with the technology advancements in production and media buying the actual run out of work is way easier. I am a big fan of AI and using that alone saves so much leg work. All you need to do is rack your poor brain into thinking of that big idea. 

Easier said than done. But you can do it.

It also doesn’t matter if the brief is for a TikTok challenge or a bush shelter OOH.

You can think bigger. 

Bigger ideas are not about the budget or the brief.

They are all about the commitment to doing better.

Not taking the easy way out.

Because the prize is immortality.


Manuel Bordé, Global Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R Commerce

Creative Commerce
More often than not I hear marketers talking about a focus on conversion marketing, and how commerce and brand equity should not be mutually exclusive, but instead intersect. The truth is, why work so hard on Top of Mind and awareness if you can now convert at the spot. Scanning a stadium billboard during a football match can drive product sales for viewers watching at home. And we all talked about that flying QR code during the Super Bowl. Yes, I know the industry hates QR codes, but you scanned it, I’m sure.

Creative Commerce is the next big canvas for creativity and talent.

The purpose of saving the brands.
Will we continue to see brands getting more and more into purpose? No doubt. But do I wish every client would take two steps back and assess whether every brief and strategy needs it? Even better, is it relevant to the essence of the brand? 

Automotive talking about saving the oceans. Salty Chips getting philosophical. Please.
I hope 2023 shows us a year where the best work celebrated across award shows is work that was not afraid to accept it’s about saving the business before saving the world.

Advertising is a joke.
I miss funny ads. The world misses them too. All except Twitter. We’re so worried about ticking boxes and pleasing everyone that along the way we forgot to be bold, daring and fun. Playing it safe became the norm. We forgot about creativity and focused on plain communication.

We need brave marketers. Bravery is infectious.

Till Diestel, CCO, Serviceplan Germany

Above all, there will be tools that will increasingly offer or enable us to communicate in new ways. As Louis Rosenberg wrote a few days ago "No, the metaverse is not dead - it's inevitable." So, all around web3, AI tools, like Midjourney, DALL-E. The power of voice and much more. 
I also believe that we will see more entertainment and humour again (we need it) because good storytelling remains key. No matter which tool, channel or implementation is chosen, it all starts with the insight, the idea combined with a great story to tell. 
And with the introduction of ad-supported subscriptions from the streaming providers, the 30-second spot will definitely be filled with life again. And in general, I am hoping for more together than against each other in our industry. More empathy. More humour. More stories. 
So: LFG.

Shaun Tay, co-founder & CEO, FCB Shout


My heartfelt wish for Malaysian marketeers is simple: BRAVE TOMORROW TOGETHER.

We’re putting the past years behind us now, the covid years, the divisive years, the disconnected years. We need to use 2023 as a launch point for creating a platform that enables sustainable growth for all in the industry. A shared purpose, stronger understanding between partners and above all, a desire for doing better, more sustainable, inspiring work that awakens a desire that we should and can be better than that which has come before.

Not easy for sure and it will require shared trust and a shattering of pre-conceived notions of what is ‘right and proper’. I can see the seeds of this being sown… the rise of many brave independently minded agencies is but one of many that give me hope that the tomorrow of 2023 (and hopefully beyond!) will be a new golden age for Malaysian advertising!

Dave Weist and Tim Vaccarino, ECDs at MullenLowe Boston.

We want to see amazing creative being used as the ultimate business tool this year.  

This is not the easiest moment in history, with the recession looming—or are we already in one? No one seems to agree. The focus for us in 2023 is going to be around deeper partnerships with our clients, really helping them solve the right business problems by putting creativity at the center of everything we do. Also, we’re going to capitalize on those moments when we can be in the cultural conversation—or even lead it.  
To do this, we have to be unconventional in our approach. We have an open brief system here, where we ask teams to create activations or innovations for brands they don’t normally work on day to day. These ideas are attached to real needs and speak to the core brand strategy, but they’re also designed to bring in fresh perspectives and get an unfair share of attention. All this work is beyond the normal ask, but it’s also very much in support of it. When every penny counts, we absolutely need to help clients get an exponential return. In a cool way.   
Clearly, 2023 is not about being self-indulgent. However, this is not a year to play it safe either, and we need to take those big swings to keep our clients out there.

Main Photo by Francesco Casalino on Unsplash
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LBB Editorial, Wed, 21 Dec 2022 13:14:47 GMT