Thought Leadership

‘Creativity is a team sport’

The Gerety Awards Jury Insights panel lifted the lid on the future of purpose driven work and building cultures of curiosity and creativity.

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


The Gerety Awards are unique because they redefine the standard to which advertising is held. Named after Frances Gerety, the copywriter who coined the slogan “A diamond is forever”, the awards mark the first time that juries have been brought together to select the best in advertising – all advertising, not just advertising made for women – through the female lens.

To delve into some of the key themes and insights of this year's great work, members of the UK judging panel, chaired by Vikki Ross, Copy Chief and Jury Chair, Natasha Nanner, Director of Creative Strategy EMEA at Whalar, Sara Rose, Executive Creative Director at VMLY&R and Shanice Mears, Head of Talent at The Elephant Room engaged in a lively panel discussion chaired by Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director, Creativebrief. The jury lifted the lid on the future of purpose driven work and shared how they are able to maintain cultures of curiosity.

The joy of judging

This year’s judging took place at the School of Communication Arts in Brixton, with students sitting in on parts of the process. Opening the judging Marc Lewis, Dean of the SCA, spoke about the importance of reciprocity and leaving the industry better than you find it. For Ross, lifting a lid on the awards and allowing students to see behind the scenes was extremely important as she explained that “creatives look to award winners to set the standard which pushes the industry to continue to do better.” 

The Gerety Awards is unique as it looks at advertising through a female lens. Mears shared that looking at work this way “shatters stereotypes, removes the male gaze and lets women hold the baton in a way that isn’t sioled.” Adding that “it doesn’t have to be a female topic to have female opinion. The normal view shouldn't be the male viewpoint.” 

For the panel, a key highlight of judging was in being given the opportunity to look at work they might not normally see. Looking at ads from all around the world not only serves as great inspiration but gives new insights to different cultures and exposes creative thinking from across the globe. 

Creatives look to award winners to set the standard which pushes the industry to continue to do better.

Vikki Ross, Copy Chief and Jury Chair at The Gerety Awards

Escapism, Climate Crisis and Kindness

The work seen by the judges touched on a variety of eclectic themes in the wake of the pandemic. From purpose led campaigns that combat the climate crisis to humorous ads that provide relief after a period of societal unrest, Ross shared her preference for escapism in advertising; “Joy is what unites us” she shared, “An ad for a fizzy drink doesn't need to save the world. Leave that for the more heavy hitters or else brands can end up looking careless.”

Joy is what unites us

Vikki Ross, Copy Chief and Jury Chair

For those brands that do attempt to lead with purpose, Rose used an interesting analogy, she explained: “How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time” Suggesting that brands shouldn’t take on the task of fixing the whole world at once and instead consider the smaller nuances they are able to make a real difference toward be it political, geographical or social. “Not ‘sadvertising’ but speaking insightfully forward positive change” she added. 

Building on the idea that ads should be a form of escapism, Nanner commended some of the work that made use of technology and innovative formats to deliver a message in a more creative way. “One piece of work we saw put their brand billboard into Grand Theft Auto as that's where their audience are. Audiences appreciate the use of creative methods.” She explained. 

Conditions for creativity to flourish 

A large challenge of the past two years has been in creating the right environment where talent can thrive and great ideas can come to fruition. “We need respect for people we work with across all departments, not just creative but strategy, media planning, clients. Creativity is a team sport.” explained Rose. She stressed the importance of an open culture where individuals are empowered and given the opportunity to learn from setbacks and thrive. Optimism can be hard to maintain but is crucial to creativity. 

The right environment is able to facilitate creative problem solving and processes that lead to a more innovative final product. Mears shared that to create great work, you need to: “know the audience, their motivations and their cultures.” She explained: “If you’ve got the insights then you start to get it right. Creativity becomes different.” She pointed to the G Star Raw tapping campaign, where jeans are showcased as the models tap dance, as a simplistic yet engaging way of being artistic and doing something different. 

We need respect for people we work with across all departments, not just creative but strategy, media planning, clients. Creativity is a team sport.

Sara Rose, Executive Creative Director at VMLY&R

For this kind of creative thinking, creatives need downtime and space to live life so that they have experiences to draw upon in their work. “Creatives need time to do nothing - switch off and get ideas in downtime, in the shower. Freedom to allow time to think.” explained Nanner. The importance of this was echoed by Ross who urged agencies and marketers to allow people time out; “give people an hour to switch off or level up on top of flexible working. Time to switch off improves the work.”

Rounding off the insights panel, Kemp shared that the most important thing for the industry to do is continue to try; “try and keep trying to make the best work they can”. From respecting each other's time to remembering that creativity is a team sport, the Gerety Awards provides a creative benchmark of excellence for the industry to measure against to help us all continue to aim higher.

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Event Awards Gerety Awards