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Winners revealed at The Drum Awards for Search 2021

The Drum Awards for Search celebrates the best work, companies and people in the field

The results of The Drum Awards for Search have been announced, with Mermaids, Buzz Bingo, Western Union, AutoTrader and the JM Smucker Company among this year’s winning advertisers.

While sometimes overlooked in favour of other more glamorous forms of advertising, search is one of modern life’s most fundamental tools for communicating information. The Drum Awards for Search recognizes the creative thinking, strategy and technological innovation that goes into connecting companies with the people looking for them.

The entries for 2021’s global awards were judged by a fittingly international group of judges, including senior figures from LinkedIn, Merkle, MightyHive, Tide, Wayfair and Essence.

The results were revealed at a virtual ceremony. Catch up below if you missed it.

This year’s top honour went to RAPP for its Re-educating Google campaign on behalf of Mermaids, a charity and advocacy organisation that supports transgender youth.

This year’s jury was led by Miracle Inameti-Archibong, head of SEO at Erudite. Her choice for the Chair’s Award was Verve Search, whose humorous and profanity-laced project for Buzz Bingo was so successful it’s now a Netflix documentary.

You can find out more about the winning work below.

Grand Prix/SEO – Most Effective Use of Content

Agency: RAPP

Client: Mermaids

Campaign: Re-educating Google

Research has found that transgender children are half as likely to consider suicide when they have supportive families. When parents of gender-diverse children are unsure how to handle things, they often turn to the internet for advice – and run straight into misleading, transphobic content.

To help parents find useful, vital information to help protect their kids, RAPP mapped out the search journeys that led parents to Mermaidsuk.org.uk. By identifying the common terms, phrases and behavior patterns of parents, the team built a bank of frequently-asked questions and unexpected search terms.

This meant Mermaids was able to intercept parents before they reached dangerous content, creating dramatic results and allowing the campaign to give over 400 hours of potentially life-saving advice.

What the judges said: There were so many amazing campaigns, and this was a hard decision. This was an outstanding campaign in every category it entered. The concept of algorithm bias makes this a really important campaign: it changed the whole search landscape and provided desperately-needed answers. A heart-warming and humanitarian campaign – everyone who came across it loved it.

Chair’s Award/Music and Entertainment

Agency: Verve Search

Client: Buzz Bingo

Campaign: Profanity on Film

Buzz Bingo wanted to aggressively grow its organic traffic and brand awareness by creating content that would generate high-authority, editorial links to their site, as well as coverage mentioning their name. As a casino, Buzz Bingo is subject to strict laws regarding advertising, which is partly why casinos have often aligned themselves with the glamour of Hollywood and celebrities.

Verve Search‘s response was to create Profanity on Film, a campaign that would test the popular belief that Samuel L Jackson swears more than any other actor. The unique, fun piece of research was then shared with agencies, contacts, journalists and traditional influencers like actors.

The campaign outperformed all the objectives set, and achieved such visibility that it has now been picked up for a Netflix documentary. And, as it turns out, the title of Hollywood‘s Sweariest belongs to Jonah Hill.

What the Chair said: Sometimes people say a campaign has gone viral, but you’ve never heard of it! This was not that, I had seen this everywhere! I was impressed by their use of data: I know what it took for them to trawl all those scripts, extract the data and put it forward as research. It was a brilliant campaign, funny as well, and I like when data makes things interesting.

Automotive and Transport

Agency: PR Agency One

Client: Auto Trader

Campaign: Eau de New Car

Auto Trader is the UK’s largest digital marketplace for both new and used cars. While it’s well known as a used car marketplace, new car customer acquisition was a key area for improvement. That’s why PR Agency One was tasked with increasing the search engine visibility for new car deals search terms.

The months between January and March are Auto Trader’s biggest sales quarter of the year, and it was important to create an unusual campaign to cut through competitor marketing. For the partnership’s inaugural digital campaign, they created Eau de New Car – the UK’s first perfume that encapsulates the scent of a brand-new car. The campaign was fully integrated, combining PR, SEO, social and content, CRM, house activity and OOH.

It not only outstripped the primary SEO objectives, but also raised brand awareness, increased consumer engagement and word of mouth.

What the judges said: Truly unique and very creative – stood out not just in this category, but others too. Highly relevant connection to campaign and what they are trying to sell and rank for.

Finance and Professional Services/PPC – Best B2C Campaign

Agency: Mediahub UK

Client: Western Union

The money transfer industry is a key service for those who are far from the ones they love. Western Union is the market leader, transferring money on behalf of over a billion people in over 200 countries, via 500,000 agent locations and locally-translated apps and websites.

Technology – the digitization of money – is creating an increasingly crowded space with strong new competitors. In this challenging environment, WU tasked Mediahub with driving a 20% increase in global digital customer acquisition on flat media investment.

By combining proprietary and off-the-shelf data tools such as machine learning, automation and attribution, plus controlled experimentation, Mediahub proved the efficacy of a data-led approach to gain competitive advantage in a hard-fought category. Thanks to this strategy and bespoke solutions, WU achieved 44.87% above their new customer target.

What the judges said: This was a very innovative approach using cutting-edge proprietary technology to manage huge paid campaigns at scale and driving results.

Most effective use of social media

Agency: Publicis Groupe PSOne & Digitas

Client: The JM Smucker Company

Evaluation of peanut butter brand Jif’s keyword footprint revealed an interesting adjacent topic of ‘jif v gif’-related searches. Nothing gets the internet more wound up than a debate on correct pronunciation, and one of the most contested modern words is ‘gif’. Is it a hard or a soft G?

The team identified this as an opportunity to inform campaign initiatives and partner with social media channels in order to improve brand awareness and drive traffic to the site. Combining this consumer search data with engaging content, diverse media assets and the power of social, it drove the highest ever peak in consumer interest.

The brand saw a two-fold increase in searches for ‘Jif’ and a three-fold increase in site traffic, as well as increased product sales, social engagement, media coverage and consumer engagement at every level of the funnel.

What the judges said: Memorable work that some judges had seen in action. By connecting with people’s curiosity and emotions, as well as fear or embarrassment around pronunciation, it achieved great scale and reach.

The full list of this year’s winners can be found on The Drum Awards for Search website.