#ThisAdCan at the AA House of Commons Reception 2016

At our annual Parliamentary Reception this year, we decided to celebrate advertising’s value to society.

We’re talking about those campaigns that have worked hard to break down barriers to champion diversity, teach the public life-saving techniques, raising awareness and funds for causes close to the nation’s heart.

In recent years, UK advertising has used their world beating creativity to great effect, changing behaviours and attitudes, and even saving lives.

Inspired by FCB Inferno’s viral campaign for Sport England – This Girl Can – which was a global, viral hit and wildly successful in its objective to get more women and girls exercising, and with the help of the agencies, charities, businesses involved, and a bit of virtual sparkle…

We celebrated how #ThisAdCan save, improve and enrich lives – and asked politicians and advertising types alike some of advertising’s biggest questions. Check out the showcased campaigns, plus photos and video from the event below.

FCB Inferno

Sport England’s research showed a huge disparity between the number of men and women engaging in sport. It found women were held back by fear of judgement – so they enlisted FCB Inferno’s help to get them moving again.

Featuring real women who jiggle and sweat as they exercise, set to the unmistakeable energy of Missy Elliott’s Get Your Freak On, This Girl Can was an instant hit – a year on, 2.8 million 14-40 year old women say they have done some or more activity as a result. Result!

Sport England This Girl Can
John Lewis Christmas Advert


In 2015, John Lewis used the growing influence of its much-anticipated Christmas advertising campaign to support Age UK with the story of the ‘Man On The Moon’. The campaign aimed to combat loneliness at Christmas, dramatically raising awareness of the issue by catching the public and the media’s attention.

It galvanised support amongst politicians and in Downing Street and returned over £2m in donations and corporate partnerships. Over 12,000 enquired about becoming a volunteer, potentially saving the public purse millions.

Maltesers believes that with the right attitude, the heavy stuff shouldn’t weigh us down. Awkwardness and discomfort often get in the way of inclusion, especially when it comes to disability – so they used their Look on the Light Side campaign to retell some awkward anecdotes to challenge perceptions of disability. Launched in the Paralympics opening ceremony, the campaign was trending on Facebook within 24h and resulted in over 2m organic views on Youtube – with an overwhelmingly positive reaction across social media.

Volvo Life Paint (Grey London)


Instead of using airtime to raise awareness of St John Ambulance, BBH chose to use the media to teach parents what they can do if their baby chokes. First aid can be scary, and most people think they won’t ever need it with just 12% learning first aid in the last three years.

Keeping the lesson fun and light-hearted kept parents engaged, and the campaign targeted new parents to make sure the message was spread far and wide. The Chokeables got 5m organic views during the campaign, and 11m more since then – but what matters most are the 52 lives saved.

Grey London 

Every year, 30,000 people in the UK suffer from cardiac arrest. If more people knew how to deliver CPR, the amount of lives saved could be potentially huge. Grey London chose TV tough-guy Vinnie Jones to teach hands only CPR to a 70s chart hit you can’t get out of your head.

With each of the 2 million views the campaign received came another person who learned how to perform CPR. The kicker? Moving hard and fast saved 44 lives in the first 12 months… that we know about.

663 million people across the world lack direct access to clean water – and one of the side effects disproportionately affects women, as they spend 200 million hours a day collecting water for their families.

In partnership with Stella Artois, Mother London’s Buy a Lady a Drink campaign created limited edition chalices to encourage Stella lovers to donate towards water.org. Funds from the sale of every chalice sold were donated, with a single chalice accounting for 5 years of clean water provided.

With 180,000 chalices sold to date, that comes to 790,000 years of clean water.


WCRS’ disruptive campaign sparked awareness around the gap in blood type donations for NHS Blood and Transplant – and to drove unprecedented behaviour change on a national level. With UK blood banks missing vital reserves of different blood types, they posited – what would an entire world without As, Os and Bs look like?

Those letters slowly – then quickly – literally disappeared across brand logos, personal social media accounts; wherever there were words and people willing to (easily) replicate the campaign. It quickly spread to national news. The result? Over 30,000 donor registrations in the first 10 days, saving or improving over 100,000 lives – and the most successful National Blood Week Campaign on record.

And Proud (adam&eveDDB)

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And Proud (adam&eveDDB)