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Why I feel so proud to come second

Amanda Jones

30 / 01 / 2024

Last week, Given was one of eight agencies to reach the final of this year’s Creative Shootout. A bonkers day where we all had four hours to respond to a brief set by Carers UK.

Four hours from briefing to pitch presentation. I’ve never put post-it notes on a wall faster! The prize? Winning the opportunity to create the work with Carers UK and £250k of free media spend (yes please). The brief? Come up with a campaign to halve the time it takes for someone to recognise themselves as an unpaid carer – it currently takes two years.

I’m immensely proud that we came second. What’s tougher is identifying why I feel so proud.

Maybe it’s because I was able to share my recent experiences of being a carer for my parents. Seeing that transform into a creative idea that I resonate with (and am weirdly, glad to identify with) was surreal – almost an out of body experience. 

But as humbling as it was to share my personal anecdotes of care – even ones that involved a strimmer and a cat (two separate incidents, mind) –  I don’t think that’s why I feel this bursting at the seams with pride.

Maybe I’m proudest of the pitch team and the strengths they all brought to the room. Our Creative Director, Becks Williams, who kept pushing on the insight, the idea and the story to get to something that felt truly meaningful. 

The awe I feel for Susan Milanovic, being an ever-calm fountain of idioms, keeping us together as a group and iterating again and again on the line that was central to the idea, landing us on ‘Call it care’. It rang so obviously true. 

Or the never ending ideation, grit and humour of Jennifer Ho. She kept pushing the words and the ideas, from the second we applied to the competition, right until the last seconds of those four hours. Guiding us to executions that had such clarity and creative spark that I genuinely think we could print tomorrow and put on billboards. 

Perhaps, it’s seeing how Given came together throughout the process: the many brainstorms, and ‘mega doc’ that meant our brains were brimming with inspiration when we walked into the room. Or how we all enthusiastically handed out zines about caring for our submission video.

Or could it be the emblem, that was made in minutes, but managed to represent what is now part of my identity: being lucky enough to love someone so much you want to help care for them when they need it.

We were the best of Given that day.

After reflecting and pondering, I’ve decided that whilst all of that was golden stuff, I’m toe-crunchingly, heart-racingly proudest of the fact we won the people’s vote

We got people laughing. Getting people to laugh at sad things is hard (and a personal comedic goal of mine). A short stint on the comic circuit revealed to me that divorce is sometimes funny, being childless at 36 is HILARIOUS, but being a carer is a chuckle blunter… usually people just feel sorry for you.

They laughed because our insight and idea RESONATED. We know that people don’t recognise themselves as carers, but they do recognise the actions they take to be there for their loved ones. So we showed them those acts, and we called it what it is: care.

At the end of our eight minute pitch we asked the 300-strong audience if they themselves, or someone they knew, had done one of these acts of care recently. Over half the audience raised their hand. They will think differently about caring now, maybe they will recognise themselves as a carer quicker in future. That was the moment I felt proudest.

Given is an agency built on using creativity to make an impact. In that room, with those people, we achieved that. We may have lost the opportunity to make the work for real. But getting 300 people to think differently about caring is winning for me.