Advertising awards

3 minutes estimated reading time

I got a chance to judge the UK Young Lions advertising awards and Adforum’s PHNX awards. The Young Lions responded to a common brief with the solution viewed through their specialism:

  • A communications activation plan.
  • A creative concept.

The standard of thinking was high, but I could also see the benefit of more agencies and brand teams tasking younger members of staff to enter the campaign. I was expected to having to wade through dozens and dozens of entries; there wasn’t that many.

Adforum’s PHNX advertising awards attracted global entries and took a long time to go through the entries that I saw. I got to see a lot of good work and wanted to showcase some examples later.

PHNX were more complex in nature compared to the UK Young Lions, with many more categories.

Advertising awards mistakes.

I saw a few unforced errors:

  • Category -spamming – award entries were submitted for categories that they weren’t appropriate for. You would see the same work turning up category-after-category with no relevance. You could see other judges becoming frustrated in the electronic chat function that ran alongside the entries.
  • Link the work tightly to the challenge that the client faces. You would be surprised how many entries failed to do this.
  • Have your entry in a language that the judges are likely to understand. You can only get so far with Google Lens when trying to tease out winning nuance of advertising awards.

Advertising awards entries that caught my eye.

There were a number of Adforum PHNX advertising awards entries that caught my eye and some entries that inspired me.

Advertising for advertising

A few years ago, LONDON Advertising (who I have freelanced for previously) ran an advertising campaign to demonstrate the power of advertising.

LONDON Advertising campaign

This was possible due to the cheaper media rates available early on during COVID-19 as brands paused spending.

It’s a very unusual tactic outside of advertising festivals and trade publications. So it was interesting to see a Spanish agency submit a couple of films into the Adforum awards that purely showcased their craft capabilities for use on different aspects of advertising.

It’s not Studio Ghibli, but still really well done by La Caseta. It was still surprising for me to see it entered for advertising awards.

Inspiring content

Grab Thailand

Uber analogue Grab ran this advert in Thailand to promote its version of Uber Eats, showing how the app is on the side of the consumer in terms of pricing, choice and speed of delivery. It uses thai boxing as a metaphor and features Bella as the main protagonist. Bella is a much loved soap actress beloved in Thailand. Her coach in the corner is a highly regarded former thai boxer.


For me Lux beauty soap was a brand that I associated with my Granny in Ireland, who used to alternate using it alongside Oil of Olay soap.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lux is still alive and well as a brand half-way around the world in Asia and Africa. Lux’s ‘change the angle’ campaign was a collaboration with female athletes to try and change the way they are portrayed in live sports coverage.


Mistine is a Thai beauty brand founded in 1988. It became the go-to beauty brand in Thailand. The company sold its products via direct sales, wholesale, online, retail, and the export market. In recent years it had focused on expansion into China, but had lost touch with younger generations of Thai women. It was seen as a low-class, outdated brand. The brand team started with a campaign with a film of young generation focus group discussing on societal judgmental issues while having a make-up session. None of them chose Mistine as they were all judgmental to the brand name.The film signed off with an apologetic message to Mistine users and have been insulted by negative associations with the brand name “Sorry that my name is Mistine.”

It’s a brave move to take that raw insight and build a campaign around it.

That then drove a six-fold uptake in search volume and media impressions.

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