the conversation

Get your creative swagger on

Judging the British Arrows was a reminder why creative confidence should be rocketing

By claire beale

Claire Beale here. I’ve wrestled this week’s Conversation off Jeremy Lee (a feeble fight) because I got fired up about something and wanted to shout about it.

Apologies to anyone who likes to bandwagon on new new things, but I got excited about TV ads. 

I’ve spent an asthenopian amount of time over the past couple of weeks judging the British Arrows awards. Hours and hours and, God, hours of watching TV commercials, branded content, online brand films. Two years’ worth of the best audio visual efforts of the British ad industry. Then a day and a half watching the best of the best of them with the rest of the judges – all together, in the same room at the same time, delicious. Debating and celebrating the range of work was a Class A injection of inspiration. 

And it immediately made me want to grab the industry by the collars and demand more kick-ass confidence, more pride in the standard of work here, more premium price tags for such transformative creative firepower. Heck, why aren’t you all walking round with a dislocating swagger?

But, but. By the time came I came to write this, my passion had dampened under a flood of sobering conversations. Talking to agencies about the dearth of talent, about the crippling protocols of pitching, about the bribes they’re having to resort to in order to persuade people back to the office, and dozens of other motivation-sapping challenges really took my fizz away.

But I still had to write this piece. Damnit.

So I tore myself away from that pile of cuttings I’m wading through on the metaverse and NFTs and where brands fit into this new landscape - all of which make TV ads seem so darn antediluvian - and rewatched a few of the Arrows entries that made me laugh, cry, phone my kids to tell them I love them. And the tingling came back - enough at least to propel this column and to send me reaching for your collars.

Yes, the industry is facing plenty of challenges right now but I’ve been writing about advertising for over 20 years and there’s always been enough challenges to keep my ink flowing. There’s never been a series of challenges like the ones we’ve had over the past two years, but almost all the ads I’ve been watching for the Arrows were made during the pandemic and the creativity is phenomenal. So if anything we should be swaggering more wildly than ever, bubbling over with pride. 

My hope is that getting back together more, getting the collective energy going, sitting through some live awards shows again, just enjoying being in the industry properly together again, will get the fires flaring. In which case, I can’t wait to see what you make with all that.


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