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How a creative director makes a difference with his creative works - With an Annual 2021 Bronze winner | #AnnualSpotlight

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The Annual 2021 winners have been revealed over summer, with some of the most exciting professionals in the history of Creativepool. Who are these amazing people and why do they represent the best of the best in the realm of creativity?

Freelance Creative Director Sean Cullen has worked in advertising for over 18 years, creating work for leading agencies such as McCann, The&Partnership and FCB Inferno. It wasn't until this year that he became more active on Creativepool, sharing some of his amazing work on the platform – and of course, he instantly reaped the fruits of his hard work. His stunning Imagine film for the Alzheimer Society granted him two Bronze awards this year – one in Production, one in Covid-19.

Sean's spirit is hugely driven by the power to make a difference through creativity. In this Annual 2021 Spotlight, we are learning more about a much talented creative director from the Creativepool community.

View The Annual 2021 Winners!

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Tell us about your winning submissions! What do you think impressed the judges?

The project was for Alzheimer’s Society. The film was based on my own personal experience, during the COVID-19 pandemic. My Mum has dementia and during lockdowns in particular, it was a harrowing experience trying to support her. The confusion and social isolation, had a big impact on her dementia and us as a family. I was fully aware that we weren’t the only ones struggling to cope. So I contacted Sylvia Lowe, the Head of Marketing at Alzheimer’s Society, offering my support to try and help others. I wrote a poem to express how difficult it was for a person with dementia, especially at this unprecedented time. I then worked directly with the fantastic team at Alzheimer’s Society to bring it to life in a film, which I directed. I think the raw emotion of the poem and film is what caught the attention of the judges.   

What felt unique about taking part in The Annual?

The most interesting part for me with Creativepool, is the ‘People’s Award’ section. This is where fellow creatives can vote on their favourite. There’s a real community aspect to these awards, with people commenting and actually supporting each other with submissions with a vote. I’ve been to my fair share of awards events and as good as they are, they can sometimes be quite cold and divisive places. Creativepool has a platform to encourage people to support one another from the start. My tutors at University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in Preston always encouraged friendly competition between students and I’m a firm believer in this and have tried to carry this throughout my career. That’s the best thing about Creativepool. I think that supporting each other actually benefits everyone.

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If you could name one reason that made you choose to enter this year, what would it be?

I entered the awards this year to show that positive outcomes can come from even the most negative of situations.

How do you plan to display your award?

It will take pride of place on the wall behind my desk, in our home study where I now mostly work, when not on location! This will be a reminder to me that you can achieve great things, even in the most darkest of times. 

Will you enter again in 2022? If so, what are your hopes?

I’d like to think I’ll enter again in 2022. I’m aiming to do further impactful work and create great ideas that can make a difference. Even if I don’t enter again next year, I’ll be supporting others that do. I’ll be there for the ‘People’s Vote’ for sure! 

What advice would you share with other agencies and individuals looking to grab an award?

My advice would be to create something that stirs people’s emotions. This will then connect with lots of different people and if you get lucky you may pick up an award or two along the way. 

How does winning awards such as The Annual impact your business?

Luckily, I do get regular work and the great agencies I work for in the North West of England keep me very busy. Of course, a Creativepool Award helps to raise your profile though, particularly on a Global level. Being featured in The Annual is something that I feel honoured to have achieved. 

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This year’s winners are a testament to the power of creativity in hardship. How did Covid restrictions influence your winning projects and how did you approach these new challenges?

Having been through The Annual this year, there are amazing examples of creativity being used to react and try to help others during tough times. Well done to everyone involved in those projects. In terms of Covid restrictions, they definitely had a direct impact on my submission. It was the reason I created the idea in the first place but also because it heavily influenced how we executed the film too.

I directed the film remotely, which would have been a huge challenge had it not been for the great team, including a great Director of Photography in Chris Hosker and Vicki Evans who produced it. They took my vision, shot frames and film treatment slides and really delivered. We worked really closely on the day and got everything we needed thankfully. I deliberately directed the film with empty rooms, to show the social isolation but also from a production COVID safety perspective at the time, this was an important factor to consider too. When it came to recording the voice for the advert, my wife (a VO artist) recorded in our home studio. This is something that we had set-up when the pandemic hit.

What are your hopes for the industry in 2022 and beyond?

I just hope we all keep pushing great ideas out and if we can collectively use the power of creativity for more good things in the world, that would be my hope for the future. As cheesy as I’m aware that sounds, I do believe is the most important thing we can do. 

What is your most exciting project in the next year?

I’m going to be working with a fantastic charity that plants a tree for every £1 they receive. I’ve advertised everything you can think of (ok maybe not everything!). But having the opportunity to do my bit, to help this fantastic planet we live on,  that’s where I get most excited. As creatives we have the skills to push for change and make a difference with what we say and do. Creating more trees is a good start!

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