Looking back on Annual 2020

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Shiny covers have started to flood our social channels, as the trophies for last year’s Annual 2020 reach our winners this week. Looking back on the year that’s just been, it’s hard to say this wasn’t somewhat of an achievement: to run the eighth edition of the Creativepool awards, championing creativity across the globe at a time when the industry needed it the most.

Despite all the challenges and mentions of ‘unprecedented times,’ Annual 2020 was one of the most successful editions of our awards yet. With some of the industry struggling to find jobs and others kicking to get back up, The Annual provided a chance to celebrate successes and a shot at creative immortality. It was my first edition of the Annual awards too, and one I shall remember very dearly for a number of reasons. For one, I saw the industry truly coming together in one single community. That is something that leaves quite a mark on everyone involved, from organisers to winners and our esteemed judges.

And a mark we did leave, indeed.

Annual 2021 is accepting standard submissions until 27th May. Enter now to grab your slice of creative immortality!

Enter Annual 2021


Image credit: AMV BBDO for Bodyform

The Gold Winners

Across all of our categories (nomination awards included), last year we awarded a total of 22 Gold prizes. These winners represented the absolute best the industry has to offer, from newcomers to influencers, from creative agencies to the unsung heroes that work behind the scenes (more on that later).

The winners across the board were a select few and all unique in their own right. Last year’s lineup includes some of the most groundbreaking, innovative and outstanding projects, companies and professionals the creative industries have ever seen, from the marvellous ITV Creates to a heart-wrenching The Bitter Bond by ENGINE, from AKQA winning Agency of the Year (twice!) to the unparalleled success of Sherlock Communications as the PR Agency of the Year.

If you are eager to take a look at these disruptors and innovators for yourself, here is a list with links to their winning profiles and projects:

Prizes & Top Winners

The Annual scoring system is one of the fairest in the creative industry. It makes sense that grabbing a prize with it is also quite challenging. Only the most groundbreaking works will be awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold, and last year we awarded a total of 187 prizes across the board, against the over 2,500 submissions entered into Annual 2020.

There were more than a few surprises across the board. Russian television network RT was the entrant being awarded most prizes: 8 trophies, 3 of which Silver and the remaining Bronze, most awarded to their stellar Romanovs 100 AR project. Zulu Alpha Kilo, our Independent Agency of the Year, was a close second, with 3 Bronzes, 2 Silvers and 1 Gold.

A select few other companies and professionals were awarded prizes beyond being shortlisted, from our Agency of the Year AKQA (being awarded 4 trophies) to KIND, Colenso BBDO, AMV BBDO and many others.

After a year like 2020, the need to celebrate successes and champion creativity is now stronger than ever. We can’t wait to see what you will enter into Annual 2021 this year.

See the 2020 Winners


Image credit: Peter Anderson Studio

People’s Choice

The Annual is the only creative award with a People’s Choice component. Companies and professionals from all over the industry turn to the amazing Creativepool community and leverage their network to vote for their entries, so they can be awarded the much coveted People’s Choice prize at the end of the voting window.

Last year we saw over 20,000 votes cast during People’s Choice, as the community joined together to award the best work from 2019. People’s Choice is an exciting time of fun, healthy competition and celebration for the entire industry, a much waited moment for the entire Creativepool community.

Contrary to the Bronze, Silver and Gold trophies, there can only be one People’s Choice winner in each category, and it isn’t unusual for a submission to only be awarded one or the other. Last year, however, we had one indisputable champion of People’s Choice: TMW Unlimited.

TMW Unlimited was able to secure 5 prestigious People’s Choice prizes in Copywriting, Effectiveness, Graphic, Integrated and Social respectively. It was the company – no, the entrant – with the most People’s Choice prizes last year, and one of the most successful ever in the history of Creativepool.

Other notable winners include Critical Mass, securing 3 People’s Choice prizes, and AKQA, securing 2 (Agency of the Year included) alongside AMV BBDO, The Dubs, Mother and Sherlock Communications.

Here’s all the People’s Choice 2020 winners:

A new category

For The Annual, 2020 was a special year in many respects. One of those was the introduction of a new category to celebrate the unsung heroes of the industry: Creative Services Company of the Year. This new category was conceived for all those production companies, manufacturers and industry suppliers who support the industry on a daily basis with their amazing work. We were extremely proud to see Ambassadors grab the Gold prize and TonyG claim People’s Choice last year. We are keeping the category as a part of the Annual indefinitely from now on.

We are doing something similar with Annual 2021. As the world prepares to reach jump into a new normal, now is the time to celebrate all the good things from last year, created and crafted amidst the crisis. We have introduced Social Good and Covid-19 as two new free categories to enter.

See Annual 2021 Categories

What do the winners say?

There are very few things in this world as precious as the excitement of a winner – or their team, for that matter. Our Annual 2020 winners are all incredibly special in their own right, and they all have beautiful words to say about the awards. As you’ll have noticed on the magazine, we have been working on a series of #AnnualSpotlight interviews with all our winners and it warms our heart to read each and every single one.

Here’s a round-up of quotes from some of our 2020 winners:

“It’s an honour being the first company awarded creative services partner of the year, and awesome to see the category introduced in general. It really shows the growing involvement and recognition for the makers ‘behind the scenes’. The word ‘service’ has also definitely changed a lot since the 90s when I was behind the box as a VFX guy. Back then it was simply post-production, but it’s really evolved now to supporting brands and agencies across all kinds of creative, workflow, and scaling needs.”
Ambassadors, Creative Services Company of the Year

“The sheer mixture of disciplines and countries that the Annual encompasses is unique. As an agency from Latin America, there are very few opportunities for us to share our work with the international, English-speaking creative community, and even less that let us do so with such a broad range of professionals that give you real feedback and inspiration.”
- Sherlock Communications, PR Agency of the Year

“It is a real privilege to work with clients that trust us to make beautiful work for them and I felt so humbled to be nominated by the team at AKQA. To then go on to be able to achieve something so rewarding in such an unusual year was an unexpected but wonderful surprise; made even more special by the fact I was voted for by my peers in the industry.”
- Becky Swarbrick, Emerging Talent of the Year

“The great thing about the Annual is how it both feels like it belongs to the creative community, but at the same time is very outward facing and accessible. The People’s Choice element in particular is such a great opportunity to engage a wider audience in the craft behind what we do in this industry”
Rowdy Studio, Winner

“I felt delighted when we won this award because we worked so hard on the project and put all of our energy into getting it right. We took it personally, we brought new ideas to the script and kept improving the graphics and animations. This award showed us that effort brings rewards.”
- Leo Uehara, Winner


Image credit: BBDO Atlanta

What do our 2020 judges say?

We are extremely honoured and humbled to welcome a diverse mix of professionals and leaders from the industry to judge The Annual each year. Our esteemed judges represent the top of creativity, and each panel includes at least one brand representative. Our aim is to make the experience unforgettable for all involved, giving our judges the chance to share their unique feedback with the entrants in a wholly anonymous way.

Here is what some of our judges said about Annual 2020:

“Everything that’s unique about judging The Annual stems from the diversity and scale of the Creativepool community. Across hundreds of thousands of members who span the globe, you can meet every type of person, from those who are just starting out to leaders with vast experience. So, when you judge what has been submitted for appearance in The Annual, you can expect to be surprised by what you see, and who you will interact with. The level of creativity is off-the-charts.”
- Roger Darnell, Principal and Chief Communications Officer at Darnell Works, PR Agency of the Year panel

“What definitely feels unique is the fact that the whole Annual feels less than regular creative awards but more a cooperation between the judges and participating in creating some sort of guidelines for the upcoming year for the industry. I see Annual as a benchmark of what to do and where to go, how to look at things and how to understand and clarify them for the benefit of the creative communication worldwide. I mean how cool is that? Awards that basically feel like they are created for the actual living, breathing people, not the other way around.”
- Simon Waloszek, Creative Director, 3D panel

“For me, it was insightful to see the depths of the entrants’ capabilities in both craft and execution. There was a great diversity of backgrounds amongst the judges, which brought many varied perspectives.”
- Wilf Sweetland, Founder & CEO of Sweetshop, Creative Services Company of the Year panel

“The range of people involved in judging - talented folks from all levels and from across the full spectrum of agencies, brands and organisations. Also the opportunity to share thoughts and insight with fellow judges through the judging portal. A bit like the judges, I love the breadth of talent involved. A number of brands I really wasn’t paying much attention to are now firmly on my radar as a result.”
- Dan Wilkinson, Founder & Director at EVEN Creative, Brand Team of the Year

See the 2021 Judges

A Year Like No Other

What a year that 2020 was. Consumer habits shifting, budgets becoming tighter, a global economic and healthcare crisis out in the open, and the creative industry coming together closer than ever. We learned the value of purpose, community, support, authenticity and inclusion. We learned what it means to be human and how technology can truly connect us all.

It was thanks to technology that we felt closer, even while apart. The Annual was affected in many ways by the global pandemic, but our goal remained strong and unaffected: to champion creativity at all levels, celebrating creative passion, craft and expertise across the entire industry. And though Brexit didn’t help for sure, we learned about the most important value of them all: resilience. The same resilience demonstrated by the industry to forge ahead and keep being proud. The same resilience that got us through the worst of last year, and that now is pushing the industry to bond and look to the future.


Image credit: ENGINE for Born Free

Looking ahead

The standard submissions deadline for Annual 2021 is little more than a week away and we can barely imagine the breadth of talent and creative passion coming from this year’s entrants. We have no doubt there will be some outstanding projects this year as well, and that some tables will turn again with our coveted People’s Choice prizes. As things stand now, and as we get ready to enter a whole new world, we must admit we know very little for sure.

What we do know, however, is that this is the year to celebrate. This is the year to leave all the horrors and pains of 2020 behind, to look ahead to a brighter future of creativity, positivity and optimism. As the industry rediscovers these feelings, we too are working to be at the intersection of creativity, helping creative professionals and companies from all around the world to be championed for their successes.

Join us in building a better industry and show the creative industry that the world still has a need for creativity. Our role, forever unchanged, will be to act as the global connectors this year and for the ones to come.

Our 2020 was not easier than most. But it was powerful. It was a lesson. It reminded us what we are here for, and what our purpose must be going forward. We are the connectors of the global creative industry. We will never let you down on that.

Creative immortality is only one click away.

Enter Annual 2021

Header image courtesy of a very excited team at Cheddar Creative!