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Newsworks Planning Awards – A judges view

Katrina Lowes, head of marketing at Vodafone Global Enterprise

Katrina Lowes, head of marketing at Vodafone Global Enterprise, fills us in on what made the winners of the 2016 Newsworks Planning Awards stand-out for her.

Having cut my advertising teeth on remnant newspaper ad spaces over 20 years ago, I was looking forward to being one of the judges at the 2016 Newsworks Planning Awards. Back then, my press planner taught me that insight was always more important than size in engaging and converting my target audience. And that lesson has stayed with me ever since.

So, when the weighty pack of entries arrived, I settled down in anticipation. I was looking for inspiration, innovation and good old audience insight. But I was also looking for creative use of newsbrands – those agencies and advertisers that had really gotten under the skin of their target audience and figured out how to leverage the emotional engagement a newsbrand can offer.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

From David Wheldon’s passionate introduction on judging day, to the discussion, debate and decision making around the judging table, the role of newsbrands has never been more recognised or proven, if this year’s entries are anything to go by.

We saw Target Media and STUDIOCANAL make imaginative use of The Sunday Telegraph as a tactile (not tactical) engagement tool, bringing grandparents and grandchildren together to make paper hats. OMD UK and Channel 4 created a contextual campaign that was SO topical, it seemed to have been written with the daily copy in Metro. And PHD and McCain delivered an almost real-time ‘Make your family famous’ campaign using Trinity Mirror and evening TV ad breaks.

Sainsbury’s cross-platform campaign was a clear winner in the first of two new categories – Best use of insight. Not only did PHD and Sainsbury’s find a way to do something about the fact that more than 90% of Mums have never had a meal cooked for them on Mothers’ Day, they also cleverly integrated the #LittleTwists campaign by targeting Dads with a breakfast pancake recipe.

The second new category – the Effectiveness award – is all about proving consistent return on investment. So the ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ entry from OMD UK and Boots stood out from the others because it provided evidence of sustained customer behaviour change. The co-branded content approach with Trinity Mirror was measurable in multiple ways from tear-out Advantage points that were trackable in-store to an increase in the number of health related requests received by Boots’ Pharmacists.

Newsbrands are like getting a trusted opinion from an old friend. We connect emotionally with the brand personality that most appeals to us and they have an amazing power to persuade us to take action.

It was a pleasure to read so many great entries as I know how much time and effort it takes to write each paper. They lay down the challenge for all clients to up our game and be more demanding of our agencies when it comes to including newsbrands in our media strategies.

So congratulations to all of the winners – you really proved that newsbrands are a powerful tool in connecting with our customers and delivering measurable return on investment.

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