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Quick Chat Creative – Best Strategy


The Best Awards were again in full swing for 2023. The team at Strategy Creative, who created the lead campaign, decided it was the time to celebrate. GSM caught up with the team to talk about the “Bestival”.

The Best Awards, organised by the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ), run every year to celebrate the ‘best’ in the local design scene. And, every year, a new lead campaign promotes entering Best and the awards night (…plus the after party). The team at Strategy Creative is to thank for last year’s campaign. We sat down with the team at Strategy (ST), to talk about poking fun at stereotypical stuffy awards and bringing some joy to the design world through ‘Bestival 2023’:

GSM: Why did you want to design the theme for Best 2023?

ST: The Best Awards are a staple of the design world. When the opportunity to design the campaign came across our desk—we jumped at it! Strategy had helped design the identity for Best at its very inception back in 2004. So to collaborate again on a full campaign was something we couldn’t miss out on. It was an opportunity to take the whole design community along with us for a ride. And when it came the time to decide what kind of ride it would be—we went all out.

GSM: Where did the idea for “Bestival” come from and why did you end up with this theme?

ST: We knew from the get-go that this project would be atypical. It would offer a lot of creative freedom and a completely blank slate. Alongside the exciting opportunity, it also screamed: ‘This is how Aotearoa will see us at Strategy’. This made us consider both what we stood for as an agency, and what we wanted the Best Awards in 2023 to represent.

Plus, after some tough years defined by pandemics and recessions, we wanted the evening to be a big party. We wanted to bring all these creative minds back to the moment they realised design was their dream: by creating an enchanting, wacky, childlike world. What expresses these things better than festivals and carnivals! The ‘best’ time for fun and play.

We also thought about the design industry—which can sometimes be burdened by high expectations and a lot of tough love.

We made a potent cocktail out of these things, creating a Bestival world which audiences would access via our ‘Rabbit Hole’.


Through eight stop-motion scenes, we made fun of classic design pet peeves:

  • the spinning wheel of death, brought to life through a wind spinner;
  • the classic carnival activity of apple bobbing, adapted using a Mac computer;
  • designer brainstorms, showcased as a giant cotton candy tornado…
  • Paired with a unique, celebratory tone of voice—we asked the audience to ‘roll up, roll up’ for a night they’d remember.

But our Bestival approach wasn’t the first idea we considered. We went down many avenues: metal detectors which would determine if you had the Best pin in you, theme parks that functioned on creative ideas, futuristic fortune tellers… We also considered a more political approach, by questioning how we consider success and what awards mean.

In the end, we came back to the idea of joy in design. But while we embraced the simplicity of creation, the process itself was far from that.

GSM: Ok, so—tell us about the process?

ST: We knew this was not only a big opportunity, but that it was a fun one too. It didn’t seem fair to single out a couple of creatives to take charge. So we developed a collaborative process which enabled everyone to have a voice, even if they didn’t have the pencil.

Once we laid out the project timeline, we picked dynamic duos to take charge in each phase: concept, detail design, production. Each duo would then ‘pass the baton’ onto the next. We also sprinkled in a couple of full studio workshops to squeeze all the best ideas out.

Having landed our concept, we realised we wanted to do something different in terms of production technique. In a world of digital literacy and the rising use of AI, we went back to basics and made use of stop motion. Using photos rather than 3D renders, we created videos to bring to life our eight distinct worlds. Each scene required building, painting and crafting handmade props. This took a lot of time to set up—like a lot! We then had to plan how to light and shoot them so they looked seamless. (In fact, we did this almost too well as some people didn’t realise they weren’t digital renders!).

We have a couple of photographic wizards in the team. So they took the baton at this point, with many of our team working behind the scenes or appearing as hand or feet actors. It was an incredible team effort which ran over 10 months. This included three main staggered shoots, resulting in 12,818 photos and 280 total assets created.

Once that was done, a lot of work went into editing and exporting these photographic stop motion videos into a range of formats. DINZ used these in the campaign leading up to, and on, the awards night.

GSM: Were there any wins or losses?

ST: You know how it goes. Once you start brainstorming, it’s hard to stop! We had a lot of ideas on how to bring the campaign to life beyond the online sphere:

  • sending studios a physical invitation buried inside a popcorn box,
  • setting up activations for the night itself, such as:
    • a spinning wheel that helps you choose a cocktail,
    • a scream room where you could air your frustrations while getting the deci-bell to ring,
    • a creative wall you could hit with various objects…

A lot of these didn’t happen. Still, we were stoked to be able to reuse our rabbit hole, which initially appeared in our introduction campaign video, as a selfie wall on the night. When it comes to the wins, there are a few:

  • We showcased Strategy with authenticity and colour.
  • We problem-solved some impossible logistics.
  • And, we had fun as a team along the way, becoming kids again side by side.

GSM: The end result and feedback?

ST: Not only did the campaign hit all its desired targets and dates, but the event itself was a sell-out. Our team travelled to Auckland for the occasion and had an absolute hoot watching crowds interact with our creations, from using the clappers (sponsored by BJ Ball) to posing in the selfie wall. The cherry on top was getting a heap of incredible feedback from the industry itself. (We know our community can be a tricky one to please!). As well as a few leads for new clients who enjoyed what we put out there. For us, this year will be all about continuing on this trajectory. Using design to solve client challenges, but also finding space to wield its most powerful force: just a bit of joy and wonder.

The Best Creative Rabbit Hole

Strategy was involved in the original iteration of the branding for Best, way back at its inception in 2004. For the campaigns, Best has always used the colour purple (the coveted Purple Pin is the highest award). And, the logotype wording is constant, But, almost everything else about the brief is open. For 2023, the guys at Strategy hit on the idea of the creative rabbit hole.

bestOne of the key shots from the campaign shows the rabbit hole as a physical construction made using concentric rings, and adorned with items—visual metaphors representing the world of a designer:
the famous mac ‘wheel of death’ represented by a hand-held windmill, the magicians hat—the place from which clients believe ideas are simply conjured…
The rabbit hole construction getting a second life at the awards night being used as a selfie station.
bestThe concentric rings of the rabbit hole were also integrated into the existing logotype seen here at awards night

Stop-Motion Sequences

These stills taken from the series of eight stop-motion sequences show painstaking attention to detail. Each sequence hit on one of the pet-peeves for designers:
In any creative agency, you’ll find lots of ideas bouncing around.
Sadly, not all them survive.
When you hit gold, you really pull it out of a hat!
Other times, the shiny idea is really just shit rolled in glitter.
Hitting your target audience sometimes feels like playing a game of whack-a-mole…
At this Bestival, we bob another kind of apple.
In the end, Aotearoa’s design community offers a good amount of eye-candy

Best Team Effort

We would like to thank the team at Strategy for their contribution to GSM magazine: Fraser Callaway, Matt Innes, Sophie Palmer, Holly Mcleish, Kate Van Arts, Chris Flack, Oliver Ward, Meg Stuthridge, Mike Peters, Mark Wilson, Sonia Mijatov, Lila Pitcher, Ryan Shields, Renee Williams.

For more information on Strategy—go to: //
For more information on the Best Awards 2024—go to: //

This article was originally published in GSM22. To read this and other great articles purchase this issue here.