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DMA Awards 2020: Grand Prix Reveal - Inside the Shortlisted Campaigns


The final instalment of the DMA Awards Winners’ series, The Grand Prix Reveal, took place in January 2021. For the first time in DMA Awards history, we announced a Grand Prix shortlist that featured the top three campaigns, voted for by our Grand Prix jury:

  • Wunderman Thompson and BT Sport
  • Klarna
  • MullenLowe Group UK, Mediahub UK, and National Health Service England

A huge congratulations to our Grand Prix champion: Wunderman Thompson and BT Sport, whose campaign’s single-minded, future-thinking approach won the hearts and minds of our arduous Judges. And congratulations to all our Grand-Prix contenders.

This virtual event handed over the floor to the talent behind these campaigns. Here are the details we can take away from their pitches to push for bolder, braver ideas in our industry:

Campaign: Unscripted

Background: Wunderman Thompson and BT Sport used data and AI to write a script that delivered the outcomes of all the games throughout the football season.

Here’s a recap of their video pitch:

The team behind Wunderman Thompson and BT Sport weren’t after ‘another football campaign.’ Instead of the traditional approach of looking back and telling a story that's already been told, they looked forward.

“We had to go from campaign thinking to culture thinking,” said Matt Steward, Chief Client Officer, explaining that they not only had to be hard on the idea, but put themselves in the absolute mindset of the fans.

Phil Wilson, Business Director, added that “the application of artificial intelligence within this campaign wasn't superficial: it was super fundamental.” That’s why they brought on board Opta, the world's leading supplier of sports data; Squawker, an editorial analytical force within the online space; and Google Cloud, the tech that powers it.

To communicate the campaign was about ‘celebrating the unpredictability of sport,’ they came up with 30 different methods of destroying the script, from dartboards to axes and leaf blowers. It was about saying ‘I can do better,’ as opposed to ‘that data is rubbish.’

The pivotal point was when this came through all of those social digital and one-to-one channels. You had something physical that people could talk about and something digital outdoors that they could see.

“It got people to react,” said Andy Lane, Managing Partner, adding that the campaign was shared in 44 countries. Using conversation rather than spend resulted in commercial outcomes, such as creating a massive boost in subscriptions based on the lowest budget they ever had.

The biggest impact is that it redefined their business approach to marketing. We realised an idea is far more powerful than a media plan, said Cracknell, Head of Marketing.

Here’s what our Judges asked our campaign representatives:

Jason Andrews, Creative Partner, Iris, asked: from an agency point of view, how did you sell it to the client, and from a client point of view, how did you sell it internally?

Lane said it was the way they worked together:

  • Everyone was part of the process
  • There were no PowerPoint presentations; there were ideas on a virtual wall that were judged by their merit
  • Being brave together: in the brief, BT asked for a sports culture idea rather than a sports marketing idea

Cracknell added that they were able to focus on the elements of the idea and tailor it for each person. For instance, keeping in mind if someone was a Manchester United fan to spark a passionate conversation.

Charlotte Langley, Brand and Communications Director, Bloom & Wild, asked: what were the biggest challenges or areas of pushback creatively and commercially that you had to overcome?

Cracknell said that the biggest challenge for him was selling something that they didn’t actually see.

Lane said that creating the script – which ended up being 66 pages – with the level of credibility they wanted felt quite scary, explaining that they had to pull in the data and analyse it before being able to put it together. He added that they produced 100,000 copies of a trimmed-down version to hand out at train stations across the country.

Katie Dulake, GM and Marketing and Communications, Mitsubishi, asked: how certain were you that this was the solution? Was there ever another idea in the running?

There were many ideas, Cracknell said, but as soon as he heard about telling a story by looking forward, he was hooked.

Lane said that they explored lots of areas, though they were always going to take the approach of looking for ideas that were cultural thoughts, not ads. Nothing matched Unscripted, he said.

Finally, the team was asked, why do you think you should win?

This campaign was different, Cracknell said, because they put an idea at the heart of it; authentic because they played to their role as a broadcaster; and impartial because of the partners they brought on.

Lane added that it showed how the power of creativity can take an ambition and carry it through.

Campaign: Heartbeats 4 Sneakers

Background: After their insight revealed that sneakerheads find the increasing use of bots for entering raffles extremely frustrating, Klarna created the first ever bot-free raffle for some of the most hyped sneakers of the last decade.

Here’s a recap of their video pitch:

This campaign targeted and engaged the sneaker community, making consumers aware of Klarna as a trusted shopping service and elevating the relationship with existing and new sneaker retailers.

Godfrey said that they wanted to emphasize their belief in shopping being an emotional experience, but as a bank, they also needed an authentic reason to play in this space and add value beyond their payment methods. Essentially, it was about doing things consumers wouldn't expect them to do.

Klarna teamed up with creative technologists at the Stockholm-based company, We Are Yours, who helped them develop a mechanic that meant only those with a heartbeat could enter the raffle. The VPN technology used the cameras on smartphones or laptops to detect changes in colour under someone’s skin caused by blood flow, making it near impossible for bots to enter.

Entrants received a confirmation email with a bespoke discount code for one of Klarna’s shoe merchants. After the raffle closed and for the remaining five days of the campaign, consumers could use the same tech to unlock various offers and discounts at 35 different sneaker retailers worldwide.

Here’s what else Klarna did to create ‘as big of a splash as possible’:

  • They had a dedicated microsite, promoted the campaign on social and via sneaker influencers, and amplified it through their partnership with Highsnobiety
  • They made four films dramatising the life of a sneaker fanatic, what Godfrey described as ‘sneaker-themed 80s music videos’
  • They planned a virtual launch party for the press and influencers
  • They created an Instagram filter game that required users to raise their eyebrows to play – spot prizes were given

The campaign earned more than 700 million impressions, generated more than a 10% increase in brand awareness, and 650,000 people visited the site during the two-week campaign period.

One of the main reasons the campaign was successful, Godfrey said, was because the core team never deviated from the plan when it exploded out into multiple territories and teams.

Here’s what our Judges asked our campaign representatives:

Simon Gill, Chief Creative Officer, Isobar, asked: how you were guided by the audience and the use of data and insight to help power the choice of art direction?

Godfrey said that, way back, they blended the data from two demographics: Klarna’s consumers and those in the wider landscape. To build a picture of individuals beyond what sneakers they’d like to buy, they looked into the platforms they use, forms of entertainment they enjoy, other things they consume, etc.

Then they made sure to communicate this with the creatives. The ‘out there’ art direction speaks more towards Klarna as a brand, he said, adding that these assets were social driven. Lots of fast cuts, different colours, and retro yet modern twists were used to make people want to keep watching after their initial glances.

Jae Hopkins, Director – Sales and Marketing, Eurotunnel, asked: how did this campaign work in terms of effectiveness for Klarna account openings?

Since Klarna is a service rather than a product, Godfrey explained, the journey of gaining customer trust and awareness around the value they provide as a payment method takes much longer. The best indicator of finding this out is through the merchants participating in the campaign, he said. Every merchant – 33 worldwide – saw an increase in orders, with 40% being the highest.

Finally, Godfrey was asked, why should his team win?

What they’re most proud of is the innovative tech and doing something that traditional banks wouldn’t likely do, he said, adding that they were able to accomplish so much in house as well, from planning to data and creative.

Campaign: We Are Nurses: We Are the NHS

Background: As we all know, the NHS has been under tremendous pressure this year, but the longer trend of nurses leaving and not enough coming in is a huge problem. This campaign “lifted the lid on what it's like to be a nurse,” encouraging and guiding people who’re thinking about going into nursing.

Here’s a recap of their video pitch:

The pitch asked us to forget about the pandemic and think about before, when the NHS was experiencing many other crises:

  • The nursing bursary had been removed, making it more expensive to do a nursing degree
  • Brexit, a future entity that no one yet understood, meant nursing applications from the EU dropped massively
  • 2017 was the lowest year ever for student applications

Nurses are the backbone of the system, making up the biggest clinical workforce alongside doctors, explained Fran Griffin, Senior Strategist, so to say the campaign aimed to recruit nurses didn’t do the challenge justice.

Their insight found that loads of people would like to work in the NHS, but it’s difficult to convert their interests into something tangible. There’s a huge fear of failure, which you see in many careers, she said, but in nursing it's pivotal, because it means that people don't pursue this dream. The leading comms strategy helped people to continue this aspiration. Sabina Usher, ‎Communications Strategy Director, added that they did so with a third less cash.

To bring this campaign to life, they used real staff, patients, and settings, working closely with NHS clients to sign up a huge number of nurses as ambassadors. The beauty of this is they didn’t have to ask them to act, they just asked them to do their jobs, said Lovisa Silburn, Creative Director, NHS. There are over 350 different roles, but often people don't know what they look like. If they see them, she added, they might actually consider doing them. As retention is a large problem as well, the campaign had to give people something inspiring but also realistic.

Applications for their older audience shot up by the highest percentage. This campaign wasn’t a short-term strategy: it was a long-term building foundation for the NHS’ future recruitment approach. “If we don't get them to start the journey now,” Silburn said, “there won't be anyone to look after us in the future.”

Here’s what our Judges asked our campaign representatives:

Jill Dougan, Marketing Director, British Gas, commented that the previous year, the NHS had such a successful campaign. How did you make sure that the year two campaign still achieved that differentiation and cut through? she asked.

Griffin said that, in first year, the brief was about making everyone fall back in love with the NHS. In second year, they needed to move beyond that inspiration and find audiences right for nursing. Usher added that guiding people to overcome different obstacles to applying was a much more difficult task.

Cordell Burke, Creative Managing Partner, UP There Everywhere, asked: from a creative perspective, how did you manage to keep the film and photography consistent and powerful across so many media touchpoints?

They had a single-minded focus on telling the stories of real people, who also did deep dive films, CRM, and interviews on social, Griffin said. The same principles were applied across all their creative, but flexed throughout every touchpoint.

Usher said that knowing the difference between the story you're telling in a 60-second TBC versus your 15-second social film is really important; though it sounds obvious, it’s often not. Everything needed to be as creative as its counterpart, Griffin added.

Mark Cripps, Former CMO, The Economist, said that the team commented on the insight being unexpected. How did you land on that particular one as the primary barrier? he asked.

The NHS has ambitious growth targets, spanning beyond a teen audience alone, Usher said. Through reimagining the audience, they found one they hadn't considered before: the career switchers. They then had the ‘aha’ moment that many people would like to be a nurse, and that fear of failure was key.

Griffin added that the continued surprise came from how this fear manifested in different audiences, giving the example of how around 60% of students change their minds about their courses the week before they start.

Scott Stockwell, Editor in Chief, IBM, asked: what's your thinking about bringing people back in who, through lack of confidence, have fallen off that journey?

Every touchpoint needed to get those interested to the next phase, Griffin said, because it was extremely unlikely that someone would see the entire campaign. Their CRM strategies had a lot of retargeting around deadlines. They introduced a reminder strategy, which succeeded in re-engaging people, but they left it up to the individual – a career change is a huge decision.

Finally, the team was asked, why do you think you should win?

Usher said that, hopefully, they’ve communicated the sheer enormity of this challenge. They weren't asking people to buy a product, she said, they were asking people to make a fundamental life-altering decision that was crucial to the future health of the nation.

Griffin added that it’s about the power of a fully integrated, creative campaign, where the alignment across the journey was built to prepare their audience for this huge decision.

With that, the campaign pitches came to a close. Thank you very much to all our Grand-Prix contestants; our Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners; all those who entered the 2020 DMA Awards; our panellists and 300+ Judges.

A special thank you to our diversity partners: Culture Heroes, Outvertising, and Creative Equals; our sponsors, particularly our headline sponsors: Royal Mail MarketReach, Salesforce Datorama, and Validity; as well as our insight partner Feefo and our print partner Geoff Neal Group.

We hope to see you next year.

For more insights, check out our editorials on the DMA Awards 2020 Winners’ Series:

Channels and Craft – Inside the Work that Won

Industry Sectors and Data – Inside the Work that Won

Campaigns – Inside the Work that Won

You can also view the Winners’ Series on-demand, here.

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