Digital dominates in most creative ad campaigns of 2023 so far

By Lewis Boulton


London, United Kingdom


Although you’d think differently if you saw the weather in the United Kingdom, summer is officially upon us here.

For many in the industry, August is a great opportunity to take stock of the year so far and reflect on what we’ve learned. This is exactly what I did this time last year, exploring what the first five winners of our “ad of the month” feature had shown us about eye-catching advertising in 2022.

Last year’s cream of the creative crop leaned largely into two strong themes. On the one hand, some winners stood up for important issues affecting readers and communities, such as the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Other advertisers brought humour back into their messaging after the pandemic with witty campaigns that subverted expectations.

So, what can we say of the six winners so far in 2023?

For a start, the greater representation of digital entries taking top spots is a testament to the growing strength of online news brand advertising to produce compelling creative campaigns. As for the content itself, many winning ads help readers to take control of their finances as living costs continue to bite. Meanwhile, others take a look on the lighter side with some fantastic tactical campaigns.

Here are the six stand out winners so far this year in Newsworks’ popular ad of the month polls.

January: Hargreaves Lansdown

With Christmas bills, long nights, and cold weather guaranteed as January staples in this part of the world, we all need brightening up a bit after New Year’s celebrations. Financial services provider Hargreaves Lansdown took a slightly unorthodox approach in our first ad of the month winner of 2023, switching on lights to help readers switch on their money.

February: Lidl

The news cycle has calmed down a little from the steady stream of huge stories that broke in the United Kingdom and beyond last year, but issues such as the persistent rising living costs continue to affect readers’ everyday lives. Many advertisers went on the front foot last year to ensure consumers felt they were being supported through tough times.

Lidl carried this spirit in February’s double-page ad spread, showing how readers could still afford to feed the family a variety of quality food all week while keeping bills down.

March: Burger King

Burger King’s print and digital campaign from March is surely tactical advertising at its cheekiest. While Metro’s headlines were covering the findings into whether former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had lied to Parliament about illegal lockdown parties in Downing Street, the burger chain placed ads around the editorial for its iconic Whopper — complete with the phrase “there’s no smoke without fire.”

Just a coincidence, right … ?

April: NOW

With the final series of Succession creating near-mandatory viewing fever across the country, streaming service NOW made the most of the show’s topicality by putting its characters front and centre of its campaign.

Tipping expectations on their head, the usual celebrity endorsements and testimonials from happy customers are replaced with abuse from the show’s most popular (and acerbic) characters.

May: Alzheimer’s Society

This spring, the Alzheimer’s Society used news brands as part of a wider campaign to raise awareness around early diagnosis. Picking up on many people’s reluctance to go to the doctor for what seem like routine ailments, the charity urges people to take signs of memory loss more seriously.

June: ClearScore

Our most recent winner is another example of how a simple concept can catch people’s attention. No cute characters to be seen here: ClearScore gets straight to the point, helping readers take control of their credit score with this bright digital wrap.

About Lewis Boulton

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