Last Thursday, nine of the industry’s finest agencies came head to head for the Creative Shootout, an event that’s been described as The Great British Bake Off meets Dragon’s Den for the Creative Industry.

Participating agencies had been whittled down from 30 who entered, ranging from full service PR and social media agencies, brand experience agencies and branded content agencies, battling it out over a real brief from, FareShare, the charity committed to fighting hunger and food waste.

FareShare, is an incredible charity which has been working with the food industry for 23 years to redistribute surplus food to charities.  It provides food for 28.6 million meals a year, giving a life-line to the 8.4 million people in the UK who are suffering food poverty.   Yet despite its scale, a lack of presence on the high street means awareness is low and the charity is desperate to recruit volunteers.

This was at the core of the brief; increasing the number of people volunteering at its centres from 700 to 2,000 each week via a national volunteer recruitment campaign. It sounds single-minded but there are complexities, such as the disparate target audience and the fact the agencies had just four hours to develop their responses and just ten minutes to pitch them live to the audience.

Those battling included Bottle, Clarion, Frank, Ignis, Mischief, PrettyGreen, Raw, Tinker Tailor Trouble Maker and Text100 (and next year our mission is to be included on the list).

As we took to our seats amidst the grandeur of BAFTA’S theatre room, the atmosphere was tense.  Adding to this the FROW comprised our industry’s top ranked g-list and judging panel including the likes of; Abba Newbery, Creator Development YouTube, Alyson Walsh, Marketing Director FareShare, Colin Byrne, CEO UK & EMEA Weber Shandwick and Simon Peck, Group Managing Director Engine UK.

We were all handed remote controls and asked to rate each agency’s pitch live.   The outcome would partly influence the judge’s decisions and what’s more the poll was projected for everyone to see as each agency stepped off the stage.

The key criteria was as follows:

  1. Is there a big idea?
  2. Is there a clear follow-through from insight to result
  3. Does it answer the brief?
  4. Can it really work for Fareshare

As silence descended over the auditorium in eager anticipation of the first pitch, you couldn’t help but feel the pain for the first ones up but they were full of gusto and broke the ice by admitting they were “f**king sh*tting it”.

Who was it? It was none other than Frank PR who took the bold and dark humoured approach of flipping this issue on its head and making it more relatable with the launch of “Skip & Luck”; a parody diet that leaves you skipping meals and hoping you’ll be lucky enough to find a bite.  The startling insight linking the thinking with the idea is that food poverty is as common as dieting.

Another agency which tapped into this insight was, PrettyGreen.  They were up next and landed a similar idea albeit with a different name – “The FareShare 7:7 Plan”.  Aimed at triggering a “Youthquake”, this idea played on one of Instagram’s most popular hashtags #foodporn replacing it with the aptly titled #foodpoor.  The tactics centred on social sharing pics of empty food plates.

Text 100 moved things on from diets to fasting and lunch amnesties.  Inspired by the hunger marches of the 1930’s, the agency drew on the anger triggered by the unfathomable statistic that 8.4 million people are struggling to afford to eat in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

They called it “Get Hangry”, which theoretically taps in beautifully to the raw emotion of anger required to prompts people to act, but “Hanger” is now synonymous with Joan Collins chomping on a large bar of Snickers so it didn’t have the desired effect.

Clarion also went down the “Hanger” route with #gethangry, although this idea felt more concrete and thought through because you could see how it would roll out and inspire action.  It was a social experiment in partnership with a national food chain where one in eight of its diners (the statistic for people experiencing food poverty) would randomly experience delays in getting their food and when it did arrive the plates would be empty, fuelling the ultimate fit of “hanger”. But trained staff would diffuse the situation explaining the idea of the campaign and prompt sign-ups.

The remaining agencies brought altogether different thinking, good and not so good.

Tinker Tailor Trouble Maker’s “Elephant in the room” totaliser was beautifully considered, the idea of filling the elephant with flowers symbolic of new volunteers recruited to the charity was lovely but hunger is not exactly a taboo or elephant in the room subject so, sadly, it missed the mark.

“Hungerford”, the shop filled with empathy food items proposed by Bottle was creatively brilliant.  The parody products comprising; Walkers ‘Bags of Confidence’, ‘Ready for School” meals and ‘Beans Means Jobz”, reinforced the importance of a full belly to performance.

So which agencies made the final cut and what gave them the edge?

The team from specialist branded content agency Raw London presented an idea that gripped both Judges and the live audience and took home the top prize.

Live experience agency Ingis was runner up; with former Creative Shootout champion Mischief coming in third place.

Mischief tapped into the new currency frontier with its version of Bitcoin entitled “Bitecoin”. The “Bitecoin” traded time as its currency and the campaign rallied the nation to engage by volunteering its time.  As with all currency, the more time invested the greater its value.  The execution was digitally led, targeting a predominantly youth audience identified as most sympathetic to the charity’s cause.

Ignis built its campaign on the platform “Let’s Get Wasted”.  Guess the target audience, yes the nation’s “YOUF” or specifically, students.  Ignis mapped out how many volunteers it would recruit via activity centred on university cities.  The name & frame tapped into a cultural insight, as well as the issue of food waste, which also sits at the core of the charities mission.

Whilst winners, Raw London, stood out for the creative curveball it threw with “Any shape – any size”.  It tapped into the hard truth that hunger doesn’t discriminate and those affected come in “Any shape, any size”.

Using arresting images of hungry faces (in “Any shape – any size”) alongside misshaped but otherwise perfectly good food, it was the only creative that brought together (with high impact) explicitly what the charity does; it feeds hungry people with “in date” but not good enough food.

What can other agencies learn from the winner and runners up?

Be original

They were by the most original, least obvious and simplest of ideas. The filter of “does it pass the elevator pitch” is forever relevant and true.  The more you explain an idea the further away from being the right idea it is.

Think big

The blurring of lines between disciplines also played a significant role in defining the “Big Idea”.  More progressive agencies and those with a structure that isn’t pure play PR arguably think in big idea terms.  It’s a journey the industry has been on for some time but some agencies do it more naturally than others.  It’s a mind-set shift, from single channel to multi-channel and we’re not all there yet.

Prove it works

The importance of measurement shone through, the ones that made the final cut showed clearly how they would meet the brief’s very specific objective of recruiting volunteers.

It’s an all-round win win, the Creative Shootout presents another terrific platform for the industry’s rising stars to showcase their talents and each year a terrific cause benefits from their creative minds.

For information about how to volunteer for FareShare follow the link below:


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