Over the course of a week, we reveal The Drum’s pick of the top brands, campaigns, agencies and individuals to have made an impact over the course of the last 12 months. The full list is also published in The Drum’s 8 January issue, which is available to purchase here from today.
Here, we take a look at the PR, social and networking categories, including ambient stunt of the year, social phenomenon of the year and PR triumphs and disasters.
David Bowie comeback
Given that most of his fans thought he had retired, it came as quite some shock when David Bowie, without warning or fanfare, released new single ‘Where are we now?’ on the morning of his 66th birthday in January 2013, simultaneously announcing that a new album would follow. In the modern era of non-stop communication, it seems almost unthinkable that such a grand comeback could be kept under wraps, but that’s what makes Bowie’s return such a PR master class. In deploying none of the obvious promotional tactics of the music business, and reminding us that less is sometimes more, Bowie immediately became relevant once again.
Paddy Power – Rainbow laces
A brave initiative for a brand that is aiming to reach, in the main, a male audience that is rarely communicated with when it comes to discussing openly gay footballers. Players and the public were asked to wear multi-coloured shoe laces over a weekend to show their support for football players to be open about their sexuality. Brands have never touched upon the issue, but here the bookmaker was able to communicate with players and pundits alike in support of a cause that really should not be a problem in this day and age. And it managed to do that while retaining its cheeky tone of voice.
Findus horsemeat scandal
It would be unfair to say Findus was the only retailer affected by the horsemeat scandal, but the way in which the frozen food brand reacted to claims that its ‘beef’ lasagne was in fact 100 per cent horsemeat was downright catastrophic. Findus waited seven days to inform the public that horsemeat had been found in its products, and the brand’s ‘Message to our Customers’ lacked empathy – and the word ‘sorry’ – with the brand instead choosing to apologise "for any inconvenience caused”. When your food’s more equine than bovine it’s a little more than simply an inconvenience, we’d say.
Co-operative Bank drugs scandal
Handing over £300 for crystal meth and cocaine and boasting about taking ketamine are not exactly what you look for in the chairman of any business, never mind the chairman of an ‘ethical bank’ with an estimated revenue of £3.5bn. 2013 was already shaping up to be a perilous year for The Co-operative Bank but in November – days after former chairman Paul Flowers testified to the Treasury Select Committee – he was filmed agreeing to buy Class A drugs and later arrested by police in the Merseyside area in connection with ‘a drugs supply investigation’. Following his arrest, the bank has revealed an increase in the number of customers closing down their accounts, but says it’s still “too early to form a definitive view as to the extent of such damage”.
Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi divorce
June 2013 saw the ten year union of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi unravel – very publicly – when the Sunday People published photographs of Saatchi allegedly ‘strangling’ his wife outside Scott’s restaurant in Mayfair, London. The month that followed saw Saatchi announce he was divorcing Lawson having "become estranged and drifted apart."Divorce proceedings took just seven weeks, however, details of the couple’s time together have slowly begun to emerge during the trial of the couple’s two personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who are accused of fraudulently using Saatchi’s private company credit cards.
Tweet of the year
Nokia’s cheeky ‘thanks Apple’ tweet suggesting that imitation is the best form of flattery following the announcement of the colourful iPhone 5c – which bore a marked resemblance to Nokia’s range of Lumia phones – became the most retweeted brand tweet ever, racking up over 40,000 retweets and 11,000 favourites. One reason that the well-timed tweet did so well was the fact the Apple announcement was not being tweeted or live streamed by the brand itself, since Apple does not have a Twitter account. The brand engagement led to over 8,500 retweets in the first 20 minutes.
Social phenomenon of the year
Picture messaging platform Snapchat proved in the second half of 2013 that it wasn’t simply an app teens could use to send inappropriate images that would delete in a short timescale: Juicy Couture signed up to advertise using Snapchat Stories, Co-op unveiled a Mission Impossible-style student campaign, and the company turned down a $3bn offer from Facebook. At the start of December, the platform appointed Emily White, the former director of business operations for Facebook’s Instagram unit, as its new chief operating officer, suggesting that it is looking to stay independent – for a while, at least.
Twitter storms of the year
#FBrapeThe Everyday Sexism Project, No More Page 3 and Social Media Week were among those who wrote a letter to Facebook complaining about rape and domestic abuse content on the platform, leading to over a dozen brands - including Nissan, Dove and Nationwide - removing their adverts. The #FBrape campaign racked up over 50,000 Twitter mentions in its first week, and led to Facebook admitting that changes needed to be made. Following the campaign, Facebook has begun soliciting feedback from representatives of the women’s coalition and other groups and increasing the accountability of the creators of content.
Industry Twitter feed
Group MD and founder of Frank PR, Andrew Bloch has his finger on the social pulse on his Twitter account, keeping the world informed of PR stunts, campaigns and random face-palm moments. Bloch has almost 30,000 followers at time of writing, and tweets an average of five times a day.
Networker of the year
Not the Manchester United defender/midfielder, although he really wishes he were – Phil Jones is in many ways the glue that holds the industry together. If there’s someone he doesn’t know, then they had better worry, as there’s no one that can connect people within the marketing sphere across all disciplines like The Drum’s longtime Dadi Awards chairman. With his regular Podge lunches growing in size each year across design, digital and sports – Jones has become the walking embodiment of what LinkedIn strives to be – only LinkedIn isn’t as well connected. He’s a top bloke too.
Irn-Bru Fanny Bottle
Anything Coca-Cola can do Irn-Bru can do better. Following the success of Coca-Cola’s personalised bottles, Irn-Bru decided to pay homage to the more traditional names of its homeland launching personalised bottles for Tam, Rab, Senga, and of course the star of its TV advert – Fanny. The limited edition run came about after a mock-up can dedicated to Fanny was posted on the brand’s Facebook page, leading thousands of fans to inundate Irn-Bru with requests to make a real one.At the time of launch A.G. Barr said the bottles would allow fans to “enjoy a taste of Scotland with Fanny.”
PlayStation takeover of Oxo tower, Manning Gottlieb OMD
The hotly anticipated launch of the Sony PS4 was marked by a suitably extravagant stunt by the brand when it took over London’s Oxo Tower on the bank of the River Thames in November.In the battle to outdo rival console XBox One in the publicity stakes, the tower was adorned with huge versions of the PlayStation controller’s circle, cross, square and triangle symbols, brightly lit and requiring six abseilers to attach them to the tower over a four-day period. The campaign was bought and planned by Manning Gottlieb OMD, with support from Fever PR, Talon Outdoor and Curb Media.
Mobile or tablet launch
Speculation and rumour will surround any Apple launch, but the launch of the fifth-generation iPad was even more hotly anticipated, with leaks emerging ever since the launch of the previous generation device a year earlier. And its debut in October didn't disappoint, emerging at a strong time for Apple and pleasing early adopters with its thinner-than-ever 7.5mm physique, making it the lightest full-size tablet in the world. But it's not just superficial; the iPad Air's speedy 64-bit Apple A7 processor makes it eight times faster than its original first-generation device, and beating every iteration since on speed.Yesterday, we looked at work The Drum will cherish, big ideas of the year, integrated campaign of the year.