Creatively galvanising advertisers into action

The UK Young Lions competition exists to find the nation’s best young creative talent to represent the UK at the world-renowned Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Participants are set a brief that they have three days to complete before entries are judged by a panel of industry professionals. DEPT®’s own Joe Watson and Ali Marler did just that to place as runners up in the ‘digital’ category out of more than 130 entries.

The task at hand

Participants were set a brief by the Advertising Association, the official UK representative for the Cannes Lions Festival, to galvanise the entire industry to take part in the 2023 ‘All In Census’. 

The ‘All In’ campaign was created in collaboration between the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA to help improve representation and inclusion in the UK advertising industry. The ‘All In Census’ was launched in March 2021, garnering more than 16,000 respondents, to measure inclusivity within the industry and set the benchmark for progress.

The Young Lions applicants were tasked with devising a follow-on campaign in one of six categories (Design, Digital, Film, Marketers, Media, Print) that would build awareness of the 2023 census and drive even greater participation than in 2021.

Time to Unmute

Senior Digital Consultant Joe and Midweight Designer Ali recognised that although the ‘All In’ campaign shows the industry is listening, marginalised groups are still being drowned out in advertising. 

The 2021 census reported that 32% of Muslims are likely to leave the industry based on a lack of inclusion and only 1% of C-suite leaders in the advertising industry are black, highlighting there’s still a way to go.

To help the efforts of the ‘All In’ campaign to improve representation and inclusivity in UK advertising, the duo submitted an integrated, digital-led campaign titled: Time to Unmute. 

Time to Unmute calls for everybody in advertising, whether they are part of the majority or minority, to speak up in order to measure progress and action the required change. 

The campaign tactfully ties the relatable ‘sorry, you’re on mute’ catchphrase, with a clear time-bound action to come together as an industry and complete the survey.

People who work in advertising are experts in getting brands heard, but don’t often apply this to their own voice to solve their own industry’s challenges. That’s why Time to Unmute puts the onus and opportunity on the marketing professionals to make a change.

Joe Watson, Senior Digital Consultant, DEPT®

Action-driven creative

The campaign creative brings energy and shareability to the act of completing a survey, drawing attention and instigating action through bold statements and animation. 

To create a sense of togetherness, pre-recorded and user-generated videos were ideated, where peers could share their reasons for deciding it’s #TimeToUnmute. 

Social stickers would act as a badge of pride and encourage others to do the same. All working together to encourage everyone to have their say.

The strategy

Time to Unmute has a broad target audience, from individuals to organisations, known contacts and new prospects. 

The existing Advertising Association audience and database of ‘All In’ registrants would be encouraged to take part again in 2023 through targeted email campaigns, paid and organic social; all with a clear message of measuring progress since 2021.

New prospects would be reached through a combination of social channels, such as LinkedIn and Instagram. On these platforms, relevant industry influencers such as senior leaders and more playful creators such as @mrrobertmayhew, whose agency-life-inspired content has garnered more than 100k TikTok followers, would be used to help drive action. 

The campaign also lends itself to shareability through assets such as social stickers and organisation asset packs encouraging Slack status updates, calendar events and more. 

Users would be driven to the All In Hub where the Time to Unmute campaign creative is continued and content which encourages exploration is delivered alongside the primary CTAs, register and complete the census. 

Joe and Ali developed an action-focused, powerful and almost provocative campaign that balanced raising awareness of the core issue behind the ‘All In’ campaign with a focus on the primary call to action. Inspiring those in the industry to use their voices to make a difference earned the team a runner up position out of more than 130 entries.  


Senior Digital Consultant

Joe Watson