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How brands beat Covid: explore 2021’s nominees at The Drum Awards for Marketing

The PlayStation activation at the Supertrees in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay

’Pivot’ must surely be one of the last year’s most repeated words. With the best-laid plans of mice and marketers in shreds, this year’s Best Pivot Initiative category at The Drum Awards for Marketing is dominated by stories of Covid-19 recovery. From a virtual expo stand that took attendees on a journey, to a bold suspension of a world-famous brand slogan, read about some of this year’s nominees united by a common theme.

Have a favorite? Join the conversation on social to let us know which entry has caught your eye – and then join us for the ceremony on Thursday July 8. The Drum is launching a new model for award ceremonies, filmed before a live audience and broadcast from The Drum Labs in Shoreditch. Read more about the shows here or find out more about the innovative multipurpose venue here.

Be sure to check out the full list of nominees here. You can watch the full awards show streamed live here on July 8 at 4pm BST.

Agency: SharpEnd

Client: Campari Group

Created by: Biancamaria Sansone, global travel retail marketing director at Campari Group; Jennifer Smith, global brand manager at Campari Group; Cameron Worth, chief executive officer at SharpEnd; Eddy Peters, client lead at SharpEnd

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic bringing air travel to a standstill, Campari Group wanted to reassure partners of its commitment to the global travel retail sector. By commissioning an innovative virtual stand experience for The Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel, it did more than simply replace the standard physical expo booth.

Campari Group’s activation across its Departures Lounge and three flight arrival destinations was fully interactive and showcased brand heritage, product innovations and how individual brand assets could look in-store.

Guests were able to ‘board’ a private jet and select a drink, before being transported to Venice, Kentucky or Scotland to visit the homes of Aperol, Wild Turkey and The Glen Grant respectively. After exploring each 360-degree destination environment, visitors had their virtual passport stamped and could either travel to the next destination or return to speak with a brand representative in the Departures Lounge. It led to longer dwell times and many repeat visitors.

Agency: Mindshare

Client: KFC

Created by: Mindshare, Mother & Freuds

KFC’s endline is one of the world’s best known, but one of the least appropriate in a pandemic. KFC decided to embrace the discord and address it head-on with a global campaign announcing the temporary suspension of the famous line until the return of better days.

The campaign strategy went against conventional wisdom for messaging in difficult times. Relying on a phenomenon of behavioral economics – the pratfall effect – the brand highlighted its own weaknesses, making people feel more warmly towards it. Brand sentiment rose, engagement was high, and the campaign contributed to KFC having a much better 2020 than it first feared.

Agency: Amplify

Client: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Created by: Isabelle Richards, Sony Interactive Entertainment lead; Jeavon Smith, executive creative director; Alex Wilson, head of content; Kate Lancaster, business director; Inertia Studios – show content

Typically a global launch moment for a video game console is a celebration centered around the players – from long queues that form outside shops days in advance to live activations that invite the entire gaming community to come together. The pandemic made these normal occurrences impossible.

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), the maker of PlayStation, surprised consumers by creating an experience everyone could take part in despite being seen by few in real life. The activations took place on iconic landmarks and locations around the world including the Supertrees in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, Venice’s St Mark’s Square and a mountain range in Switzerland, and were amplified on social, turning the world blue as each territory launched.

The resulting imagery is stunning. Using anamorphic illusions to create fully immersive content, it seems to defy reality as the PlayStation5 and its DualSense controller appear to break through the screen. The experiences were filmed as they went live, edited and posted on social channels. Over 20 million joined the celebrations.

Agency: Havas Sport and Entertainment

Client: Puma

Created by: Stéphane Guerry, Emeric Deminière, Augustin Penicaud, Fabrice Plazolles, Nil Nivière-Schouvaloff, Quentin Clausse, Pièrre Acuña, Georges Emmanuel Assou, Audelia Leloup

Lockdown was an especially difficult time for music fans, so Puma invited them to a live concert that was 100% Covid-proof. Puma has built relationships with many musicians over the years, and thanks to its leadership in the field of athletic and casual fashion the brand is no stranger to the stage.

When French rapper and brand ambassador Alonzo released an EP during lockdown, the team decided to bring his music to his fans through a virtual concert in a city that was completely unaffected by the real-life pandemic: The City of Los Santos in the GTA V video game.

Digitizing all the assets that make up a real concert, including integrating official Puma clothes and shoes to dress Alonzo’s character, Havas connected the in-game scenography with the track list and visual effects. Fans could attend the show in-game with a character, or stream it live on Twitch.

Agency: Forbes

Campaign: Forbes’ Pivotal Moments & The Launch Of Forbes Virtual

Created by: Lynn Schlesinger, chief marketing officer; Sherry Phillips, senior vice-president of ForbesLive; Shelby Tompkins, vice-president of ForbesLive; Jessica Charles, vice-president of programming, ForbesLive; Leann Bonanno, vice president of ForbesLive and content partnerships; Danielle Rubino, executive director, brand marketing

As the world’s leading business media brand, Forbes saw the transformative events of 2020 as a vital opportunity to re-shape its future. With the world retreating behind a screen, Forbes needed a new way to reach changemakers to help them navigate through uncertainty and ensure important conversations could continue.

Forbes Virtual, a new digital event experience designed to connect like-minded communities around the world, was born. In the second half of 2020 alone, Forbes held 66 virtual events, engaging people from 188 countries with dialogue, learning sessions and socially driven programs. Various virtual offerings gave a platform to underrepresented voices.

The virtual pivot led Forbes.com to record-breaking audience numbers in 2020. In fact, all 100 of Forbes’ most trafficked days occurred last year.

See the full list of nominees here, and register to watch The Drum Awards for Marketing ceremony to be the first to hear the results.

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