Best of the Best - Excellence Awards
Marketing Society Global Ambassador, Hugh Burkitt, analyses some of the best of our 2018 winners, plus his top ten favourites award-winning papers from the
Best of the best - our Excellence Awards 2018
Marketing Society Global Ambassador Hugh Burkitt examines the year's winners and old favourites
To see how to navigate this booklet...
Blood, sweat and tears
Hugh Burkitt reviews this year's Excellence Award winners.
This year's case studies
From our Grand Prix through to New Brand and more - a pick of this year's best of the best winners.
Hugh's top ten favourites
Hugh looks back at some of our winning brands from the last five years of the awards.
Blood, tears, sweat and bravery
Hugh Burkitt rounds up the year's winners
Because our Grand Prix winner – Bodyform – upset some sensitive viewers, but greatly impressed our judges, by showing menstrual blood instead of the traditional blue ink in their ads.
Their campaign was judged the best in both the Purpose Driven Brands and Marketing Communications category on its way to winning the Grand Prix, and you can read about their strategy and the results that impressed the judges.
"Bodyform’s bravery both normalised periods and was seen to have empowered women."
Because a powerful campaign by The National Safety Council of the US, which warned of the dangers of prescription opioids moved me to tears.
This entry from Energy BBDO in Chicago won our Brand Activation Category and made its mark in history by being the first from outside the UK to win one of our categories outright.
"Relatives of some of the victims whose faces were carved into a wall of 22,000 pills spoke movingly about their loss."
Because every year our Excellence Awards involve huge amounts of perspiration as well as inspiration by all our entrants. Not just in writing brilliant papers, but in creating the story in the real world that is worth writing about.
And in the following pages you can learn from them in minutes, what they have toiled over for hours, days and in some case years. Do take a look at some of the marketing gems here…..it might suggest a brilliant idea to inspire you own marketing….
"We are hugely grateful to all the marketers who are willing to share their stories with us, without them there would be no competition."
In line with the Society’s agenda the judges were on the lookout for brands which had taken risks and succeeded as against the odds, and for the first time we awarded a prize to the Bravest Brand.
Taken on this occasion by Skittles, who gave their rainbow brand identity away to the Pride Festival and sold their brand in black and white packs……a risk which led to a dramatic increase in awareness, distribution, and sales…..
Grand Prix winner
This is what happens when whores and pimps become marketers
Brand: Bodyform/Libresse (Essity)
Agency: AMV BBDO
The campaign came up against a number of obstacles, not least ad regulations and stigmas that repudiated the use of "indecent" imagery.
AMV BBDO’s campaign for Bodyform/Libresse was designed specifically to provoke, and so it was always going to attract the ire of social media trolls.
“This is what happens when whores and pimps become marketers” was just one of the many vitriolic reactions to the work on Twitter. But while the haters were out in force, their clamour was drowned out by those lauding the work.
Since launching its "Live Fearless" platform, Bodyform felt that the femcare market's use of confidence in marketing had become cliched and commoditised. It was also trailing behind Always and Tampax, both of which outspent it in terms of advertising. So in 2016, it rejected the arguably prudish convention of symbolising menstrual blood in ads using blue liquid, instead showing red blood.
#Bloodnormal kicked off with a film showing women bleeding in sports. Other executions used striking imagery, such as a sanitary towel with "blood" being pipetted onto it, or a pair of pale knickers with stylised blood around the crotch.
Influencers were recruited, including poet Dominique Christina, and commissioned to embed the message into their art.
"The campaign came up against a number of obstacles, not least ad regulations and stigmas that repudiated the use of "indecent" imagery."
But many media owners came round once educated about the consequences for society’s failure to be open about menstruation. "#Bloodnormal delivered the brand's biggest cut-through in its history, impacting not just sales but cultural norms and taboos."
The campaign triggered a multiplicity of social discussion, while many media outlets jumped onboard, with columnists writing about society's prudishness around menstruation, for instance.
The campaign — on a minimum budget — stole social share of voice from Always (from 37% to 90% within a month), even spreading to countries where the brand is not active, while perceptions of the brand experienced marked improvement and sales grew significantly.
Bravest brand winner
Give the rainbow. Taste the rainbow.
Bravest Brand - Winner
Taking a brand's most valuable asset and then ditching it from packaging could quite reasonably be construed as utter folly. But in the case of Skittles, flying in the face of marketing convention and removing its iconic rainbow proved to be both a powerful celebration of diversity and a paragon of commercial nous.
A marketing spend of just over £600,000 meant that the campaign had to punch above its weight.
From 2014, the confectionery brand had been finding it harder to reach consumers through its TV-heavy marketing, harder to reestablish retailer support, and was suffering from a consequent fall in sales. A drastic situation called for a drastic measure.
Rather than rely purely on advertising to try to turn things around, Skittles and agency adam&eveDDB began with an idea that would resonate with millennials and refocus communications away from the traditional media.
The realisation that Skittles and LGBT+ festival organisers Pride shared the image of a rainbow at the heart of their brands formed the kernel of the campaign idea. But rather than merely link the two, Skittles "gave away" its rainbow to Pride, removing it from its packs.
"The Skittles campaign emphatically demonstrated that being brave and taking a risk can result in some of the most effective and laudable marketing."
A marketing spend of just over £600,000 meant that the campaign had to punch above its weight. Using PR and social, with a product film, a float at Pride events, in-store photo booths and influencer content, the results pummelled the featherweight budget.
A partnership with Tesco saw millions of rainbow-less packets of Skittles appearing on-shelf.
The campaign outperformed its modest budget, driving 250m impressions, doubling distribution at the UK's biggest retailer, achieving huge sales growth and elevating market share.
It emphatically demonstrated that being brave and taking a risk can result in some of the most effective and laudable marketing.
Why did this campaign work?
- Because of the idea
- It permeated Skittles' business
- Because it engaged millennials
Brand revitalisation winner
How Beano became the social currency for a new generation
Brand revitalisation - winner
Agency: Red Brick Road
Beano is best known for Dennis the Menace, a character infamous for his disruptive tendencies and much loved by children young and old. But like a lot of publications steeped in tradition (the comic is 80 years old this year), Beano was struggling for relevance in a digital-centric world.
With print sales ailing, it needed to take inspiration from Dennis – rediscover its youth and pummel its way into the 21st century.
Beano stablemate Dandy had tried and failed to launch a paid online edition, with the digital title “folding” after just six months. Not only that, Beano's own online presence had proven lacklustre for several years. Clearly, there was a significant challenge ahead.
"Beano and agency Red Brick Road set out to grow the comic's online user base to a sufficient volume for ongoing commercial success."
Beano and agency Red Brick Road set out to grow the comic's online user base to a sufficient volume for ongoing commercial success. To do this it needed to redesign its digital offering, creating a brand and message to relaunch it.
The strategy was built on a deceptively straightforward insight: that children are both digital and binary, technologically sophisticated and perceiving the world in terms of “yes” and “no”, “good” and “bad”. This observation informed the campaign: viewing the world through the eyes of a child.
Launching in October 2016, the campaign used TV, print and digital advertising to bring kids to Beano.com, using examples of "So Beano!” (bad) and "No Beano!” (good). Once kids visited the site, they encountered a user interface built specifically around the branding, including opportunities to submit user-generated content.
The results spoke volumes, with penetration up by a huge 1500%, awareness leaping from 50% to 75% and, perhaps surprisingly but certainly not unwelcome, print sales growing 10%.
Brand activation winner
How a brand turned a misconception about presciption drugs on its head in a compelling and powerful way
Brand activation - Winner
Brand: National Safety Council
Agency: Energy BBDO
In 2016, the National Safety Council was largely an unknown brand in its native US. While the public service body was unrelentingly active in eliminating the causes of preventable deaths , the organisation had failed to build its own brand.
But the realisation that in doing so would serve its raison d’être — saving lives — spurred it into action.
'Stop everyday killers' turned a misconception on its head
While Americans were understandably worried about the idea of unpredictable, once-in-a-lifetime deaths, they were less concerned about those accidents more likely to kill them — everyday deaths. The slogan and brand platform “Stop Everyday Killers” was conceived to turn this misconception on its head. The campaign was set in motion by educating consumers about one of the most overlooked, yet deadly, causes of household death — prescription opioids.
"The centrepiece of “Prescribed to Death” was a memorial wall built using the faces of 22,000 victims carved into pills."
The US is aware of its widespread use of opioids, yet paradoxically there was a belief that opioid addiction or overdose would not happen to them. The NSC set out to debunk the myth.
The centrepiece of “Prescribed to Death” was a memorial wall built using the faces of 22,000 victims carved into pills. Opening in Chicago and subsequently touring the rest of the US, new faces were carved and added every 24 minutes — marking the average time between opioid overdose deaths.
The memorial was promoted on Facebook, via the NSC's owned channels, and on local radio, OOH and donated ad space. The campaign overturned perceptions of the brand, accruing one billion impressions and driving a 45% increase in the perception of the NSC as a "leader in fighting preventable deaths", while more than 104,000 Americans stuck "Warn Me" stickers on their insurance cards to spark conversations with their doctors.
Why was the campaign was so effective?
- The central memorial wall really connected with people
- It turned a perception on its head
- The slogan 'Stop everyday killers' resonated
New brand winner
Disrupting the British heating industry through digital
New brand - winner
Disrupting established markets is how may new brands make their mark. So it was that Boxt set out to shake up the conventions of the home heating market, turning the laborious, two-week process of arranging for a new boiler installation into a 20-minute interaction on a mobile phone.
The people behind Boxt already had a bricks-and-mortar business and thus industry contacts, but with their new venture they wanted to use digital to leverage their expertise and create a seamless digital experience that could complete an installation in 24 hours.
Aware that big players such as British Gas and EDF were working on their own digital heating installation platforms, being first to market was a priority.
At the heart of the Boxt proposition was a questionnaire that customers would complete that addressed their boiler needs and gave fitters precise information for a quick, safe and clean installation. Boxt would use fitters on a freelance basis, a similar approach to Uber's use of self-employed drivers.
"Clean, stylish branding that reflected the streamlined level of service offered by Boxt was created."
Clean, stylish branding that reflected the streamlined level of service offered by Boxt was created. The easy-to-use consumer app employed an airline-style booking engine that adjusted installation prices algorithmically based on fitter and stock availability. For fitters, Boxt created a dedicated app through which they could input their availability, complete post-installation photos and manage their payments.
In the early spring of 2017, a soft launch utilised small spend on pay-per-click and Google AdWords, with short-term targets smashed. A full launch in September was spearheaded by an above-the-line campaign using TV, newspaper and digital and social advertising.
The campaign’s and product’s impact was dramatic. Within a year, Boxt became the second biggest installer of boilers in the UK.
Not for profit marketing winner
Organ donation saves lives. Take it from Gordon.
Not-for-profit marketing - winner
Brand: Scottish Government/Healthier Scotland
Agency: The Leith Agency
Convincing the bereaved to sign away the organs of a recently deceased loved one is clearly no easy task and so maximising the number of people who sign up to donate their organs in the event of their death is key to the health service.
Typically, marketing around organ donation tends towards the emotive, tugging at people's heartstrings. But for its 2016/17 campaign, the Scottish Government decided to take a calculated risk, breaking with conventions and instead using humour, positivity and images of naked bodies proudly displaying transplant scars to persuade people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.
But it had to do this with a markedly reduced budget — 40% lower than its previous 2012 campaign.
TV was identified as the best means of driving awareness to a point at which the conversation could be continued on social media. But it was expensive. Carat thus opted to run advertising in July (the cheapest month for the medium), which would be synced to digital advertising.
The creative conveyed the message "We Need Every body" by literally using people's naked bodies. Heart transplant recipient Gordon Hutchison became the campaign's leading man — a swarthy, ginger-bearded Scot who posed in the nude with his axe and a strategically placed log.
"The TV ad featured a cast of naked people of all types — "wrinkly ones", "pretty ones", "noisy ones", "spare tyre ones" and "big ones", the latter referring to Gordon."
The TV ad featured a cast of naked people of all types — "wrinkly ones", "pretty ones", "noisy ones", "spare tyre ones" and "big ones", the latter referring to Gordon.
Digital comms included the targeting of past registrants to support the campaign and urge them to tell friends and family they were on the register. Celebrity advocates were also brought onboard, while a "thank you" film gained 80,000 video views. Consumers were encouraged register by visiting the organdonationscotland.org website, which was also optimised for mobile.
The risky approach paid off and the campaign was highly impactful, driving the highest ever percentage of Scotland's population to sign up to the Organ Donor Register and the lowest number of patients on the organ donation waiting list since records began.
Hugh's top ten winning papers
Marketing Global Ambassador and awards judge, Hugh Burkitt, examines his favourite winning case studies from the last five years of Excellence Awards
Marketing Society Global Ambassador, Hugh Burkitt, selects his top ten case studies from the last five years - along with the year in which they won.
1. Easyjet (2014) - case study
This Grand Prix winner described the brilliant work done by Carolyn McCall as CEO and Peter Duffy as CMO that transformed Easyjet and tripled its stock market value. I particularly admire the way they improved every aspect of the marketing mix – starting with the product itself. They tackled their terrible record for punctuality, and also ended the nightmare practice of forcing passengers to fight for un-allocated seats, because this was – erroneously - thought to be the fastest way to turn an aircraft around. Ryanair’s CEO - Michael O’Leary - publicly congratulated Easyjet on their marketing in his own Annual Report that year and then went on to demonstrate the sincerity of his flattery by imitating many of their innovations.
2. Macmillan Cancer Support (2015) - case study
This is a personal favourite partly because I am proud to have been a trustee for many years of Barnardo’s - so I know how difficult it is to keep the message of a large and complex charity clear and consistently compelling. Charities exist in one of the most competitive markets of all – the quest for donations from the public. Barnardo’s, incidentally, won our Not For Profit Category in 2012 - without any influence from me - but MacMillan won our Long Term Marketing Excellence prize in 2015 with a paper that gives a masterclass in how the right brand communication can improve all aspects of fund-raising.
3. Maltesers (2017) - case study
Maltesers managed a highly unusual triple win in 2017 by walking off with the Customer Insight, Marketing Communications and Cause Related Marketing category prizes. Their “Looking on the Light side of Disability” campaign was not only funny, it was effective in selling Maltesers and in changing attitudes towards disability.
4. John Lewis (2017) - case study
There is so much hype about the John Lewis Christmas campaign each year that marketers can get bored by it. In 2017 the John Lewis campaign was overlooked by our marketing judges, but our Finance Directors can sniff out what is really good value for marketing money, and they picked out John Lewis as their number one for return on marketing expenditure. And if you believe the econometric analysis, the four Christmas campaigns from 2012 to 2015 delivered the John Lewis Partnership a cool £177 million of additional profit.
5. BT Sport (2014) - case study
There was much debate in 2014 about whether the launch of BT Sport was a Brand Extension or a Brand Revitalisation. In the end we decided it was both – and it won both categories. It was a game-changing move for a hitherto rather dull telecoms brand.
6. Always (2016) - case study
We don’t get as many P&G entries as I would like to see, but this one is definitely worth a detour...
7. Tesco (2017) - case study
When I began work with The Marketing Society fifteen years ago, Tesco under the leadership of Terry Leahy as CEO and Tim Mason as Marketing Director was Britain’s most admired brand among marketers, and achieved an astonishing doubling of its profitability to over £2 billion per annum.
Then they over-reached themselves and lost a fortune on Fresh’n’Easy in the US….and Leahy’s successor was hustled out of the door for failing to get Tesco back into growth. Enter “Drastic Dave” Lewis from Unilever, and with Michelle Mcettrick in the brand marketing seat, I am genuinely pleased to see that they have turned round the Tesco brand.
8. Amnesty (2016) - case study
The Marketing On a Shoestring Category is often worth a look, and this spoof campaign by VCCP for the London Arms fair of 2015 reached over thirty million people and did a brilliant job for Amnesty …all on a shoestring.
9. Guinness (2015) - case study
In my own advertising days my biggest nightmare was confronting a global marketing executive who was convinced, as they often were, that if only they could run the same advertising all over the world, advertising effectiveness would be transformed. It never was. Here Guinness give us a brilliant example of how to create a global brand position – “Made of More” - that has inspired brilliant local creativity. Their reward has been both increased sales and many creative garlands.
10. Lego (2015) - case study
I once travelled all the away to remote Billund in Denmark to visit the original Legoland, in the hope of finding some clue that would help my agency win the pitch for the LEGO account. To my lasting regret we lost out to WCRS, but all agencies worth their salt would love to work on LEGO, as it has such creative possibilities. Which are well demonstrated here by this campaign - when an entire ad break on ITV was filled with commercials re-made with Lego to promote the Warner Brothers LEGO Movie..