The AdForum PHNX High Flyers

The year’s most unexpected awards event was a celebration of creativity in adversity. Here are the PHNX Grand Prix winners and highlights.

by Mark Tungate , AdForum

The AdForum PHNX Tribute was born in the loneliness of lockdown and rose to become a meeting of creative minds. With Cannes and other awards show cancelled, AdForum CEO Philippe Paget brainstormed an ambitious idea with the team: why not celebrate creativity with a one-off, free-to-enter event?

Working with Dutch design agency Addikt, regular collaborator Kyra Roest (of the Dutch Embassy of Creativity) and the AdForum team (notably Barcelona-based tech specialist Josep Ma. Serra), the PHNX was built from scratch in just three months. 

On July 9 it went live with an online awards show, preceded by an afternoon of inspiration from speakers including Trevor Robinson, Founder and Creative Director of Quiet Storm, Bas Korsten, Global CCO of Wunderman Thompson, and Advertising Association President Keith Weed. The event was held in partnership with the UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG) and the International Advertising Association (IAA)

Viewers were able to see the Grand Prix panel debate the winning entries. 


The Grand Prix winners were:


FILM: Lacoste, “Crocodile Inside”, BETC, France


DIGITAL: Burger King, “Stevenage Challenge”, DAVID Madrid/DAVID Miami

STRATEGY: Burger King, Moldy Whopper, INGO Stockholm/DAVID Miami/Publicis



There were no clear Grand Prix winners in the Print and Design categories. 

Taking part in the virtual Grand Prix panel debate were Valerie Madon, Chief Creative Officer Asia, VMLY&R; Harry Bernstein, Chief Creative Officer, Havas New York; Ali Rez, Regional Executive Creative Director, ME & Pakistan, BBDO Worldwide; Mónica Moro, Chief Creative Officer, McCann Madrid; and Bechara Mouzannar, Former CCO, Publicis Communications MEA. The panel was moderated by Nils Adriaans, Founding Partner of Morning + Glory.


Insights from Main Stage speakers


The afternoon's first speaker, Bas Korsten, Global CCO of Wunderman Thompson, talked about "creativity's smarter sister", inspiration. He said one of the keys to finding inspiration is to "indundate yourself with inspiring information and surround yourself with people who are different to you". He added that it was important to find moments to relax and reflect, perhaps by going for a walk, in order "for the dots in your head to connect".

One of his tips was to take a different route to work every day, to keep your mind alert. "Complacency is the enemy of creativity." He also had words of hope: "I've been impressed by the brilliance and creativity of humans in our current situation."

Trevor Robinson, Founder & Creative Director of Quiet Storm, shared some experiences from early on in his career. He recalled that legendary creative Graham Fink, while going through Trevor's portfolio, remarked: "I can't see any of YOU in here." So Trevor and his creative partner pledged to make work that appealed to themselves first. "We decided to believe in ourselves." Later, he realised that making work that nobody else could come up with was vital to keeping his job. "The importance of winning awards and becoming famous was pivotal to survival."

Advertising Association President Keith Weed reflected on the economic crisis and urged brands to invest in creativity. "Invest when your competitors pause," he suggested. He also encouraged the audience to stay positive. "Miserable people deliver miserable results." 

And talking of results...


The top scorers


You can see the full list of Gold, Silver and Bronze winners here.

Out of the 35 countries that won awards, the one with the most prizes was the United States with 52 prizes, including 10 Golds; followed by the United Kingdom with 37 awards and 5 Golds. Also successful were the United Arab Emirates (29 awards), Argentina (22) and Brazil (19).

The most awarded agency was Impact BBDO Dubai with 10 Bronzes and 5 Silvers, but no Golds. The most awarded networks were BBDO and Ogilvy, who got 32 prizes each, followed by McCann with 29, Havas (including BETC) with 24 and DDB with 20.

The jury was a uniquely diverse gathering of creatives, strategists, consultants and journalists – a total of more than 430 people. Together, they voted on almost 4,000 entries and gave over 270,000 scores, which amounted to more than 2,800 hours of voting – or 117 days. Surely an awards show record!

AdForum CEO Philippe Paget summed up: “Everyone who entered is a winner, because the PHNX was never intended to be a competition - but a celebration.”




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