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DMA Awards 2020: Winners' Series Channels and Craft - Inside the Work that Won


The second of our three-part Winners’ Series took place on 2 December.

Stephen Maher, DMA Chair and CEO of MBA, introduced and led the live online celebration, which uncovered nine more Gold winners and our second Grand Prix contender across our Channels and Craft categories.

After each unveiling, a new panel of DMA Awards Judges explored each Gold-winning campaign in detail that was described as “a really powerful change this year.” Discover the trends and triumphs, from the common thread of empathy and humanness to the power of data-hidden storytelling and effectiveness culture.

The second campaign on the Grand Prix Shortlist was announced from Klarna. Read on for a recap of all our winners, and our interactive panel discussions that featured:

  • Laura Jordan-Bambach, Chief Creative Officer, Grey
  • Simon Gill, Chief Creative Officer, Isobar
  • Peter Markey, CMO, TSB Bank
  • Cordell Burke, Creative Managing Partner, UK, UP THERE, EVERYWHERE
  • Guy Hanson, VP, Customer Engagement, Validity

Round 1 Winners’ Announcement

Best Use of Email

  • Gold: Jellyfish & Toyota
  • Silver: MullenLowe Open & Harley-Davidson
  • Bronze: NSPCC

Best Use of Social Media

  • Gold: Wunderman Thompson & BT Sport
  • Silver: TMW Unlimited & Simple Skincare
  • Bronze: Ogilvy & ŠKODA

Best Use of Unaddressed Print

  • Gold: OLIVER & The Guardian
  • Silver: WDMP & Key
  • Bronze: 23red & Network Rail

Round 1 Panel Discussion

Best Use of Email: Jellyfish & Toyota

Hanson explained that email plays a large role in promoting Toyota’s dealerships and products, so they wanted to turbocharge their personalisation. The brand began by rethinking their data strategy, both data they’ve got access to internally – what models customers own, what colours they like, etc –­ and externally – what could they draw from DVLA, local service centres, etc. They started building new email templates, using dynamic content to produce literally trillions of permutations, Hanson explained.

However, the brand recognised that personalisation wasn't just about more data: they wanted to figure out how it would allow each dealership’s persona to come through, understanding that it's also about tone of voice (for them, a conversational style). Furthermore, timing was vital and using anniversaries, such as anniversary of lost service, made sure that messages were triggered in a relevant way.

What turned this campaign into a winning submission for the Judges? Hanson said it was:

  • Massive increases in their email open and click rates
  • Managing to retrieve significant numbers of previously dormant customers, resulting in the programme making a lot more money
  • Touching on softer principles, such as right message, right time, but also right model, colour, season, etc.
  • Securing huge advocacy from dealerships that were previously resistant to getting involved, as they thought more personalisation meant more work, but when they saw it actually meant less work and more benefits, they came on board
  • Ultimately, thinking about their customers

Hanson added that when asked what the desired outcome of personalisation was, Jellyfish and Toyota explained it was happier customers who feel more valued and respected, and who actually want to come back for more. If you're going to judge whether a marketing programme has done well on delivering improved personalisation, he said, this is an excellent benchmark to judge success against.

Markey said that though this felt simple, it was so well executed in that they showed attention to detail and really understood their audience.

Best Use of Social Media: Wunderman & Thompson and BT Sports

Gill explained this campaign was all about promoting BT Sports coverage of the Premier League. For years, they've been competing with Sky. The environment was about reducing the spend, he said, but also the competition in terms of where people would spend their money to watch the games.

For a lot of people, football highlights are consumed through platforms like Snapchat, which actually confuses the media landscape, Gill said. So, BT needed a way to stand out. The campaign showcased over 130 million impressions in 45 different countries, driving significant improvement on sales compared to the previous year for a fraction of the budget.

While this is a through-the-line campaign, he continued, at the heart of it is a very simple human truth: “no matter how bad your team is, you believe there's a chance that they can do it,” he said, adding “no one wants to feel that football is totally predictable.”

They worked with Google Cloud operations to take the data, crunch the numbers, and write a dossier, which would predict all the individual results across the 38 games. Then they'd have a league table. Clearly, a football fan knows that the data will change as you go through the season, he said, but as a starting point, it gave rise to some interesting conversations about Team A, B, and C.

BT Sports also used hosts such as Gary Lineker and pros to comment and add fuel to the fire. The results were spectacular, Gill said. Though this didn't feel like a typical social media campaign, we came to the simple position that this was nothing without social media – it needed social to give its amplification.

By setting this up in a contentious and data-driven way, they presented an almost unequivocal view: this is what's going to happen when we mix the numbers with the human passion for football, he said.

Maher asked whether the campaign’s unexpected creativity, the kind that turns something on its head, is also a reason for the Gold.

“It's not often you see pieces of work where you genuinely go, God, I wish I'd done that,” Jordan-Bambach said.

At its core, this is a genius piece of creative work that uses AI to tell a story. When the tech is tucked into the background, she explained, you end up with an incredibly human concept that captures everyone's imaginations. For me, that’s the reason this campaign won Gold.

Best Use of Unaddressed Print: OLIVER & The Guardian

Burke started by saying that while print isn’t perceived as a unfashionable medium nowadays, this work is fantastic.

Guardian Weekly was trying to increase awareness amongst their growing audience in Berlin, he explained. Like a lot of clients, they had a modest budget and needed to work very hard. Strategically, they wanted to match the progressive values and activist energy of the target audience, demonstrating how the magazine can empower them to take action on issues they care about, Burke said.

“The really nice creative solution they came up with was to position the Guardian Weekly as a tool for Berliners to arm themselves with the facts to tackle global issues,” Burke continued. But instead of just handing out flyers and leaflets to passers-by, they placed the magazine inside a glass emergency box: to get it, readers had to smash open the box with a little hammer.

Unsurprisingly, awareness and sales went up by about 84%, he said, and so did site traffic. This campaign is a terrific example of understanding and involving a particular audience, he added.

Maher asked if Burke agrees crowdsourced campaigns are trending.

Burke said that what's interesting is giving people the tools and means to promote and participate in your brand. Though the campaign from OLIVER & The Guardian could be an offline medium, the fact that their audience was given this opportunity was really important. “That's why it resonated,” he said.

Round 2 Winners’ Announcement

Best Use of Mail

  • Gold: The Lettershop Group & Titan Travel
  • Silver: Sky Creative Agency & Sky Winback Team
  • Bronze: RAPP & Specsavers Optical Group

Best Use of Film, Video, or Moving Image

  • Gold: Klarna
  • Silver: MRM London & No More
  • Bronze: ELVIS & Mondelez

Best Use of Out of Home

  • Gold: OLIVER & The Guardian
  • Silver: M&C Saatchi & Invesco
  • Bronze: RAPP & Virgin Media

Best Use of Voice or Audio

  • Gold: ENGINE Group & Churchill Insurance
  • Silver: MullenLowe Open & Sennheiser

Round 2 Panel Discussion

Best Use of Mail: The Lettershop Group & Titan Travel

“As Judges, we’re not allowed to share the results,” Markey said, “but suffice to say they were very good, which is part of the reason this stood out.”

Titan had a bunch of audiences, Markey explained, so they did a lot of research to understand what people were buying their holidays: what were they like, their lifestyles and demographics, what trips they were looking for, etc. They’re a brochure-led business, both in how they deploy those through post and how they use this to get people in through things like paid search and one-to-one channells and into online.

They created 30,000 brochures and personalised the entire experience for their many different audience segments, both creatively to show the kinds of people and situations that would reflect them, then flowed that right through to customer experience.

Most people would go, that's a no brainer, Markey said, but often businesses don't do it. Titan took the time to personalise the entire experience. Most importantly, it shows that mail and brochures still work.

Best Use of Film, Video, or Moving Image: Klarna

Klarna, a trusted shopping service, put this campaign out into the sneaker-loving community.

The challenge was creating a raffle to win the best sneakers from the last decade, Burke explained, as lots of bots are infecting these draws. Putting bots out there inflates the cost of the sneakers: they get sold, come out again, and then they're sold for an even higher price.

To overcome this, people had to take their device, put their finger on it, and prove that they were a human being, using their actual heartbeat to enter. The humanity of that technology was fantastic, he said, adding that the campaign worked on so many different levels.

The results were amazing and the film, which resonated with that particular audience, was lovely. The campaign went from digital to short films to film series, taking the craft through to every touchpoint, Burke explained.

Jordan-Bambach added that “surrealism covered up the fact they couldn't get their hands on the product, because it was so rare.” They did something magical in being able to talk about the product without having it in front of them.

She also pointed out that the campaign was brilliantly modern. “There's a big leap between using data and intelligently using data to find an insight and frame it in a creative way that gives you a platform to jump off from.”

The basis for this campaign was supporting sneakerheads and finding this unusual problem, which unless you're a sneakerhead, you would know nothing about, she said. It's not for me or any of the other Judges. “It was just brilliant to see that boldness.”

Best Use of Voice or Audio: ENGINE Group & Churchill Insurance

Jordan-Bambach began by asking, what role does Churchill have in a coronavirus world? She explained that the insurance company pivoted and went, what can we solve within the home? What do our customers, current and potential, need that can help connect us to our brand values?

They created a mindfulness podcast for young children, helping them to relax and giving their parents a little bit of a break. It's brilliantly written, incredibly successful, and just a lovely thing to have created, she said, adding that it also took bravery. Your average client may not buy something that feels so outside of what you do day to day, Jordan-Bambach explained, but it actually makes complete sense for them as a brand.

She read a few reviews:

  • “My two and four-year-old really like a short story. And these are the first ones they've enjoyed. Thank you.”
  • “My four-and-a-half-year-old is a very busy bouncy boy, and even he was mesmerised listening and following the breathing exercises and loved it.”
  • “Mealtimes are very stressful in our household, but Churchy has added some Zen to family time. Thanks, Churchy.”

“It has created so much love with young parents,” she said, adding that it’s important to understand who young parents are now. Over 95% of young parents are millennials, Jordan-Bambach explained, so when you think about marketing to them, they're not the same people we would think of 10 years ago.

Maher took a question from Matt Connor, Chair of the DMA Awards Committee.

Connor began by saying that “it's amazing to hear the work being talked about in such detail.”

“Powerful use of data seems to be a common theme in the winners,” he said. “In these case studies, do the panellists think it’s the overt or covert use of data that’s more powerful?”

Gill replied that people are becoming more aware that brands in particular are collecting data about them, and they’re quite resistive to sharing it and uncomfortable that it’s being used to profile them. “However, if you do something delightful with that data,” Gill said, “people just forget about that.”

He referred to the campaign from Titan, explaining that people were excited to get those personalised brochures and were sharing them on social media. It's a good example of the positive reactions that come from using data to speak to people in a human and meaningful way, he said.

“As creatives, we should feel comfortable with data” and “shouldn't have it as a crutch,” he said. We should make our own decisions while being informed and understanding how data can power the human connections that we want to create.

Round 3 Winners’ Announcement

Best Writing

  • Gold: M&C Saatchi & The Fragrance Foundation
  • Silver: Ogilvy & Formula 1
  • Bronze: MRM London & No More

Best Design or Art Direction

  • Gold: MRM London & Tommee Tippee
  • Silver: MRM London & No More
  • Bronze: Klarna

Best Creative Solution

  • Gold: Wunderman Thompson & BT Sport
  • Silver: MRM London & D&AD
  • Bronze: MRM London & No More

Best UX

  • Gold: Ogilvy & ODEON Cinema Holdings

Round 3 Panel Discussion

Best Writing: M&C Saatchi & The Fragrance Foundation

Burke began by saying that “the craft of what we do is massively important.”

For various reasons, the fragrance category has the problem of sales decline, he explained. In this instance, the way back was “to communicate the emotional value of perfume in people's lives.” The strategy was proving that there's a connection between sense, memory, and emotion.

“They came up with the lovely idea that every scent tells a story” and “took fragrance off a highfalutin' pedestal,” he said. Powerful memory triggers can bring back recollections of relatives, friends, and situations, even your first kiss. These are the kind of things that will hopefully engage people and lure them back into buying the product, Burke said.

What’s interesting about this campaign, he continued, is that in theory, everything was visual, so people don't often take the time to craft the words as well. But “the writing was absolutely beautiful,” he said. “It just demonstrates the writer’s ability to conjure mental images and is a fine example of how copywriting can inspire, providing it has that attention to detail and quality.”

Best Design or Art Direction: MRM London & Tommee Tippee

This stood out for us, because the quality is high, the budget is tiny, and the results were amazing, Jordan-Bambach said.

Also, when we're looking at data, we’re looking for insight that gets you to a different place, she explained. They used real understanding of their audience – the fact that most young parents now are millennials – and knowing the pressures these parents face around breastfeeding and doing the right thing.

The story, told with the incredible artist Noma Bar, talked about Tommee Tippee being the most natural nipple for a bottle and the breasts of new mothers in a fun, playful way, she said, rather than you're a ‘milk machine,’ or that you're suddenly failing because you're having to give a bottle to a baby.

“It felt incredibly fresh,” Jordan-Bambach said. “That’s the reason it has been such a success.”

Maher steered the conversation towards humour in campaigns. Are we going to see more of that going forward? he asked.

“You're going to see lots of positivity,” Markey said. In previous crises that we’ve faced, both as a country and globally, brands have come out with more optimistic messages. He used the upbeat tone of Rice Krispies in the 1930s as an example. Certainly, we've moved beyond the days of these are difficult times, which was necessary back in March, but would be quite tone deaf now, he said.

“Humour can be powerful if it's done the right way,” Markey explained, but if you're going to do it, know your brand and audience. He referred back to how Tommee Tippee knew their playful tone would land well, but they also knew what they didn't want to be: stereotypical. “Break some of the traditions by doing something new and radical,” he encouraged, “something based on true, wonderful insight.”

Best UX: Ogilvy & ODEON Cinema Holdings

Ogilvy & ODEON pointed out that it seemed more complicated to book a cinema ticket than to book an around-the-world one, Gill explained.

They looked at this and said, how can we reimagine it? How can we make sure that this is befitting of the event? We've all got used to staying in and watching streaming services, he said. The cinema experience has to be special, but they didn’t want people to fight their way through complicated systems to enjoy it.

Through looking at this end-to-end and anticipating how it was going to be predominately driven by the web, app, and kiosk, they were able to make a lot of improvements. Additionally, imbuing into this the reasons why the Odeon is enjoyable unlocked positive brand friction and gave big results.

The campaign wittily used a series of experience principles associated back to films: ‘Go ahead, make my day’ referenced entertainment; ‘shaken, not stirred’ gave a personal feel; ‘feel the force’ offered a sense of empowerment, etc. While some might say this is a little flippant, Gill said, what he liked is the acknowledgement of our great connection with cinema, that it’s a day out, a big event.

It underscores this value of knowing your customer, because the best experience they've just with competition is what they’re going to expect. Gill added that the launch has been particularly well set up for when many of us will return to out-of-home entertainment.

The work is well crafted and thought out, he said. “And more importantly, it provides them with a good platform for going forwards.”

Maher commented that this is a brilliant example of using technology in the background to bring the foreground to life. Do you think we're going to see a lot more of this going forward? he asked.

“It's absolutely been the year of innovation,” Hanson said. We’ve read in the press that we've seen more innovation in one year than you normally see in five. Whether it's making use of artificial intelligence, accelerated mobile pages, or augmented reality, it's all really clever, he said.

The other thing that has struck me, he continued, is “a lot of brands have responded to the crisis by putting out a message along the lines of, we're here to help.” Odeon has said, we're here to help by making your booking experience simpler; Churchill has said, we're here to help by entertaining your kids for five minutes, adding that the latter is “gold dust for a young parent.”

It's been a tough year in which all of us can use this, Hanson said.

Round 4 Winners’ Announcement

  • The second Grand Prix finalist is the campaign from Klarna.

Round 4 Panel Discussion

Maher gave a recap of why Klarna is “an absolutely worthy winner,” reiterating the campaign’s brilliant use of authenticity, behind-the-scenes data, and its powerful, beautiful film. What allowed that to happen? he asked. The quality of the work is about the culture, he explained.

So how do you create a world where effectiveness can flourish in your organisation?

You need to have a drive for continual improvement, Markey said, adding that teams fail when:

  • They rest on their laurels, celebrate the results of yesteryear, and don’t look to the future
  • They don’t dig deep enough into what makes their brand unique, and where they can source ongoing competitive advantage from performance results

Marketing, particularly data-driven and digital, is so fast moving now, unless you stay at the top of the game, you will fall behind, he said. Seeing this kind of work is so important to push ourselves. “I've taken so much out of this that I could take back to my team.”

Markey added that the leadership team, whether it's from a CMO or marketing director, needs to set the tone for ongoing innovation. “Come to events like this,” he said. “Soak yourself in this stuff.”

The other panellists also gave some invaluable advice:

  • “This is about strategy, creative, and results. You have to be at the top of your game in all of those three areas to win” – Burke
  • “The secret to be able to sell work to your clients, as well as know it's going to be effective, is making sure that you've done your homework – and you're doing it from your audience's point of view” – Jordan-Bambach
  • Internal stakeholders are quite risk averse. “You’ve got to work hard in terms of making the business case for what it is you want to introduce and what the likely outcomes are" – Hanson
  • “The risky thing is not to be bold” – Gill

Jordan-Bambach left listeners with an encouraging note: “the brilliant thing about the DMAs is the work that feels really challenging is underpinned by so much rigour, you know that you can take that bold step.”

A huge congratulations to all our winners. As Markey said, “Marketing is an absolutely beautiful craft and discipline and deserves to be recognised.” And thank you to our contestants, sponsors, partners, panellists, and Judges. We hope to see you at our next Awards events:

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