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At a time when major awards in the industry across the globe, including Cannes, have been cancelled for the year, the UK’s creative show Caples Awards took the extraordinary step of announcing winners for 2020 over a YouTube live-stream. Caples had made all entries free for 2020 at a time when the COVID-19 outbreak saw agencies tighten their budgets. A statement put out by Caples stated that the organisation wanted to “offer a tiny bit of human warmth” while companies across the industry have frozen everything, including award budgets.

The step to make the awards free-to-enter led to a total of 1,271 submissions to be reviewed by a 26-member jury including Meera Sharath Chandra, Founder, CEO & CCO, Tigress-Tigress from India. The jury voted for 22 golds, 109 silvers and 224 bronze honours across 13 categories, with the agency of the year title being awarded to BBDO, Belgium.

There was a noticeable increase in entries from small, independent agencies and four-year old agency YoungShand of Auckland, New Zealand, and No Fixed Address, Toronto, Canada won awards.

Virtual awards show

One of the worries prior to the Caples Awards 2020 was that the jury would not get to discuss the work as fully as they have in the past. A feature of the Caples is that jurors can return to change their scores at any moment up until after the second review.

The jury set out with an optimistic mindset. This is reflected in the number of awards given, and in the fact that ‘feel-good’ campaigns were well received. The conversation was not inhibited in any way. In fact, quite possibly the reverse. The awards presentation was made in a Zoom webinar and was attended by 90 people. Despite a few technical hiccups along the way, it was a genuine celebration of great work.

Perhaps one of the ‘firsts’ for the Caples this time around is the fact that the presentation was streamed live on YouTube. It was prefaced by a short talk from Sir John Hegarty, founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty on ‘Truth in Advertising”. Many of the recipients were able to join from different parts of the world. Therefore, though it was 5 am in Sydney, creative team Blake Arthur and Carl Robertson of Ogilvy Sydney wore a black tie to receive their Gold in the Integrated category for KFC’s “Michelin Impossible”. Others to set alarm clocks included Maria Devereux of Colenso BBDO in Auckland, winner of Gold in Innovation for ‘Pre Check’ for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. 

Duncan Gray, a Trustee of the Caples Awards since 1995, said: “We were hoping this would be the best-ever Caples in terms of the work and it exceeded our expectations.”

Custodian of the Caples Awards Patrick Collister said: “We were forced by circumstance to change how we operate. Now we have the pleasing problem of what to do in 2021. There is a convincing argument to be made for keeping the Caples free. Obviously we need to be able to pay salaries but we aren’t in it to make money. We’re in it to endorse creativity.”  

The Caples Awards presentation, and Sir John Hegarty’s presentation may be viewed at

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Tags : advertising Ogilvy Caples Awards BBDO John Hegarty Meera Sharath Chandra