Cutting Through the Creative Waste

By Erin Dodds at the Creative Shootout,

A ten-metre whale erected out of rubbish, a chippy serving battered plastic, the Trash Isles – 2018 was full of memorable anti-plastic campaigns, arguably some of the best creatives of the year.

Since David Attenborough shocked viewers with Blue Planet II, consumer perception of single-use plastic has shifted, with 70% planning to change their behaviour in response to the documentary. This revolt against plastic has inspired powerful creativity, but have we seen it all?

When we started The Creative Shootout, we wanted to shake up stale industry awards with a one day competition that could shine the light on radical, creative ideas and importantly, create change for a national cause. And in turn, crown one agency as the UK’s most creative. This year’s finalist agencies will be tasked with a similar conundrum for our cause A Plastic Planet – how do you shake up a saturated creative space, anti-plastic, and mobilise plastic addicts to turn off the plastic tap?

This year’s nine finalist teams broke through the noise and impressed our judges by sticking to the below creative tenets:

1: Shocking and shaming isn’t enough

Consumers have seen enough choking sea turtles. While a monstrous landfill or image of earth ticking away like a time bomb may catch public attention briefly, these images have overwhelmed creative work (can also often backfire) and plenty of entries resorted to these tactics. The agency that is going to win A Plastic Planet’s work can’t rely on these alone to stand out.

2: Make it real

Agencies and brands can use elements of shock, however, to make the problem real for consumers. What if plastic had flooded our oceans so much, we were faced with the last fish and chips? While this idea incorporates elements of shock, it also places the single-use plastic idea firmly in the public’s daily life and makes it so much more tangible.

3: Keep it simple

While we appreciate the time and effort that went into the many high concept video entries we received at The Creative Shootout, sometimes the simplest ideas have the creative clout to stand apart. One finalist entry was simply a poem that dissolved in a jar of water, creating a beautiful image of floating words in the liquid. Probably low budget, but utterly concise and memorable. Leave the smoke and mirrors at home and get to the heart of the matter. A powerful, simple idea wins over theatrics every time.

While public backlash against plastic has reached unprecedented levels, only a fraction of anti-plastic measures have been passed into real legislation or enacted by businesses – the recent war on straws notwithstanding. Environmentalists, politicians and businesses are now tasked with seizing on the enormous potential of anti-plastic public sentiment and anger and harnessing it to implement action and real change. So too our finalists at The Creative Shootout Live Final will need to build on their creative sparks for A Plastic Planet and shape them into winning campaigns that can truly shift perception and turn sentiment into action. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!

You can purchase tickets for The Creative Shootout Live Final at


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