The UK’s first PR competition and awards event; focused on creativity; done in a day; for charity…

Is it the antidote to those overblown and stagnant industry awards dinners? Without a black tie or prawn cocktail in sight, the first ever Creative Shootout uncorked a live celebration of public relations creativity on Thursday 21 January at the China Exchange in London’s Soho as six leading PR agencies battled it out to take home the title of the ‘UK’s Most Creative PR team’.

In front of a live audience, and responding to a PR brief from the event’s charity partner Unicef, Mischief PR eventually emerged victorious, beating off stiff competition from finalists TVC Group, Bottle, Dynamo PR and PLMR, and runners up Frank PR.

The brainchild of Johnny Pitt, the Founder of Launch PR, the Creative Shootout’s premise is simple:  receive a real campaign brief; come up with a response; and present your agency’s idea to a panel of judges and a live studio audience all in one hectic day.

Let them eat cake
Having invited PR agencies to enter the Shootout via a 60 second challenge in whatever way they felt would be most impactful – one agency sent a cake, another did a music video, there was Snapchat, a game show format, an advert, and even a video from a dictator according to Pitt – the shortlisted finalists’ day began with a morning briefing from Jane Cooper, Director of Communications and Brand, Unicef UK.

The teams were challenged to come up with a creative campaign that tapped into the 70 years Unicef has been saving children’s lives and delivering children’s development and rights. They had four hours to respond to the brief in private Creative Shootout ‘hangout rooms’, before returning to The China Exchange and pitching their ideas in 15 minutes to the judging panel and live audience.

“You could cut the atmosphere with a knife,” said Pitt. “There was an incredible vibe to the whole day. The quality of the presentations we saw was amazing, with each team coming up with a very different response. The judging team were looking for originality, relevance, simplicity and value, but the campaign had to be creative; Unicef needed something that would get cut through and have the creative clout.”

Many crappy returns
Ultimately, Mischief PR’s idea to highlight how many children across the world will experience birthdays that are anything but happy – using the slogan ‘Many Crappy Returns’ – took the honours, with the agency crowned winners at the after party, hosted by performer and entrepreneur Shed Simove, author of Ideas Man. But it was a closely fought battle said Pitt: “Mischief came up with an idea that was not only holistic and complete, but also had significant creative impact. The Live Final shone the spotlight on creativity in a new, radical and pure way that’s captured the imagination. All agencies did themselves proud, with only four hours to turn round the creative response. A line in the sand has been drawn and we now have a real time showcase of creativity in the UK.”

For PR and marketing agencies intrigued by Creative Shootout, the fun all starts again with a call for entries in September 2016. “Next time, we hope the Creative Shootout will be cross discipline to include advertising and digital agencies as well as PR. The challenge will be to replicate what we’ve achieved on a bigger scale but keep that special vibe we generated this year,” said Pitt.

Has your agency got what it takes?
Keep an eye out for the chance to enter Creative Shootout 2017, and start thinking of ways to impress in 60 seconds (traditional ‘award entry’ pages of written A4 not required).

For more details about the Creative Shootout:
0207 758 3900
[email protected]


The Creative Shootout: a festival of PR ideas

  • Mischief’s winning campaign was designed to tap into the fact people in the developed world can be pretty selfish when it comes to helping people in need. Its creative aimed to highlight how many children across the world will experience birthdays that are anything but happy. Using the slogan ‘Many Crappy Returns’, the Mischief team laid out how it would get people thinking about how their own birthdays contrasted with the experiences of the people Unicef helps, and tie that into different fundraising pushes.
  • Comparing themselves to the ‘world’s worst boy band’, the Frank team focused on the fact UK people were too distracted to realise how lucky they were to have avoided the ‘geographical lottery’ that could have seen them born in the developed world, or a war zone. The first team to use props – balloons in this case – which were burst by audience members to revel seven activities for seven months, themed around: Eurovision, the European football championships, malnutrition, YouTube interviews with children from the developing world, ‘Strictly come disaster’, disruptive cinema and ‘selflessies’ – selfies taken following a donation.
  • Bottle took the view that rewarding potential donors was better than guilting them. Its #lifesavinghacks campaign was built around using the ingenuity of children facing adversity to bring them closer to people in the UK. A book containing 70 hacks and a Kickstarter campaign were also part of the campaign.
  • Riffing on a theme also touched on by Mischief, Dynamo’s suggestion was to make 11 December (Unicef’s founding date) the de facto birthday for the millions of disadvantaged children who don’t know their own date of birth. With a heavy social gearing, the team’s campaign included 360 degree ‘immersive’ videos on Facebook.
  • PLMR’s #70for70 drive to raise £70m for Unicef in its 70th year was hooked around the fact people donate far more to help animals than children in this country. Issuing blindfolds to the audience (and asking everyone who didn’t get one to close their eyes), the team opened with the story of Joe, who lived a healthy, happy life with all mod cons until he was 70. The twist, when the blindfolds were removed, was that Joe was actually a Labrador, and therefore a recipient of the £4.6bn spent by Brits on their pets every year. PLMR aimed to tackle the disparity between this vast sum and Unicef’s budget by highlighting the plight of children in danger.
  • A ‘pop-up child exploitation restaurant’ – a working restaurant featuring depictions of children being abused at work – was one of a landslide of ideas from TVC. Taking the creative ethos at the heart of the Creative Shootout’s to its logical extreme, the TVC team wanted to have 70 ideas for Unicef’s 70th year, themed around #UnIcef, which aimed to remove the “emotional and physical distance between potential donors and children in need. Other ideas included child chugger social experiments, alternative sports days in mocked up minefields and an edition of Newsnight edited by children.
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