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Winners announced at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021

Canadian agency Zulu Alpha Kilo took home the grand prix alongside a raft of other wins

Digital marketers work in a crowded field. As technology advances and creative tools become more powerful than ever, The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries seeks to reward the most effective campaigns and innovations of the last year.

This global competition, formerly known as the Dadis, has been committed to recognizing the digital industries’ best companies and brightest talent since 2006. With categories devoted to artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and to the use of data and search, it rewards knowledgeable and creative implementation of the newest tools alongside great art and design.

This year’s jury is similarly international, with senior marketers, data experts, creative directors and agency leaders taking part from around the world. You can see the full list here, watch the recorded ceremony or read on for some of their comments on the winning entries.

This year’s Grand Prix was awarded to Zulu Alpha Kilo, its work for HomeEquity Bank and the Royal Canadian Legion topping the category for Best Digital Media Strategy. It was a remarkable year for this Toronto-based creative company, a self-described “maverick indie agency”, which also won the ‘Best Digital Brand Experience’, ‘Automotive and Transport’, ‘Finance and Professional Services’ and ‘Most Effective Use of Mobile’ categories.

The Chair’s award was selected by Phil Jones, founder and organiser of Podge Events, who has long been a proud champion of these awards. He picked AnalogFolk’s campaign for Canesten (Bayer) - you can read more about the ‘Intensivão da PPK' campaign here.

This year’s awards were announced from The Drum Labs, The Drum’s new experiential event space and media hub in the heart of Shoreditch. With nominees invited to attend in person, the whole ceremony was also streamed live on LinkedIn, Twitter and The Drum’s website, the show featuring comments from the judges and shining a spotlight on the most exciting work.

If you missed it, you can catch up below or read on to learn more about some of the winners. Winning entry reports will also be shared on thedrum.com, giving readers behind-the-scenes insight into what makes a standout entry.

The full list of winners is available on The Drum Awards for Digital Industries website.

Grand Prix, Best Digital Media Strategy

Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo

Client: HomeEquity Bank & Royal Canadian Legion

Campaign: World’s Oldest e-Sports Team

HomeEquity Bank (HEB), which specializes in financial solutions for seniors, is a proud sponsor of the Royal Canadian Legion Veterans Association. Since the first world war, November 11 – known as Remembrance Day in Canada – has been a day to honor veterans and raise funds to support those in need.

In recent years, younger generations have been less devoted to this tradition. Then, in 2020, due to Covid-19 lockdown regulations, the Royal Canadian Legion were unable to count on their most reliable source of donations: taking to the streets to sell poppy pins. Also, large outdoor gatherings were banned, limiting the size of Remembrance Day ceremonies.

HEB came up with a way for the Legion to raise funds by connecting with younger Canadians during lockdown. It hinged upon insight was that most young people today are only connected to war through the video games they play.

So HEB partnered with the Royal Canadian Legion to recruit four WWII veterans (all over 90 years of age) to form the World’s Oldest Esports team, known as ‘Team Legion’. Top video game streamers on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Live joined them in virtual battlefields - not to play, but to put down their controllers, hear the stories from the veterans first-hand and honor their service.

The campaign generated 6.9m earned media impressions, including 342,000 views of the November 11 livestreams. Canadian educators now use clips of the streams to help students connect with history. And, fulfilling the campaign’s original goal, Remembrance Day online donations saw a 321% increase.

This entry particularly impressed the judges, with what they called the “the intersection of insight, execution, cultural relevance and social good”. The jury felt that creating context for historical education, through the creation of an age-appropriate esports team, was a “really smart way of engaging a younger audience”.

Paid Media Campaign

Agency: TikTok Japan

Campaign: TikTok Toho Film Festival - Films for all of us

TikTok organized a new competition-style film festival, in collaboration with Toho, the biggest film distribution company in Japan. Its goal was to ‘level up’ content perception on TikTok by diversifying into film and entertainment genres, while promoting the Japanese film industry through an unprecedented approach to discover creators.

Toho’s involvement gave the competition street cred: two of Japan’s top young actors got involved, as well as legendary Japanese director Miike Takashi. The overall winner would win the right to create a new film with industry-led professional support from the Toho team, and a commitment to star from actress Hamabe Minami.

This was a first-of-its-kind single platform-led film festival and film-making competition, on a massive scale: anyone with a smartphone could enter by adding a hashtag to their video. Using TikTok’s free tools, filmmaking became democratized and free. Of course, TikTok markets itself as a video viewing platform, meaning that appreciating the work happened in the very same place – the app.

To widen the film festival’s reach, TikTok used multiple media touch points to bring together film fans of all walks of life. This was amplified using both online and traditional print media, organic exposure on TV shows, social media, and of course advertisements in cinemas.

As a result, the campaign attracted over 5,000 entries, amassing an incredible 550,000,000 total views. It increased positive brand perception by almost 90%.

The judges described this entry as ”highly effective in solving the core issue”, praising it for establishing a platform that can outlive this initial campaign.

Travel/Leisure/Tourism/Sports

Agency: Cyber-Duck

Client: Sport England

Campaign: This Girl Can

This Girl Can (TGC) is Sport England’s nationwide campaign to get women and girls moving. With several ground-breaking and well-received campaigns behind it, TGC turned five in January 2020, celebrating and reaffirming its purpose with a high-profile launch event hosted by Claire Balding.

The launch film introduced ‘Me Again’ as a rallying cry for all women, mixing new and original footage to a confident soundtrack by Little Simz. It reminded women the campaign had their back, while tackling new taboos including motherhood, menstruation and menopause. The inclusion of a visible tampon string as a woman got ready for yoga, for example, responded to research showing period shame dissuades many women and girls getting active while they are menstruating (even though exercise can alleviate symptoms).

Once Covid-19 became a reality in the UK, the campaign pivoted to focus on its online social community, becoming a platform for women to share lockdown experiences, support one another, and find ways to be active despite the restrictions.

Through a brand partnership with Unilever deodorant brand Sure, TGC made its way into stores as a limited-edition product, and the campaign’s mission to highlight everyday images of women getting active expanded to include Sure’s advertisements.

In a landscape where ‘femvertising’ is increasingly common, the judges felt this campaign raised the standard of women-focused messaging: “This was a great campaign, with results that transcend marketing on the vital topic of health and body positivity.”

Consumer Products or Services

Agency: Impero

Client: Estée Lauder Companies

Campaign: Making Dr Jart+ Cicapair A Cult Product Across The UK

Dr Jart+ became a cult brand in South Korea by building immersive branded experiences, but these were impossible to recreate in the UK in the middle of a pandemic. The team saw this situation as an opportunity to push the boundaries of the beauty category’s creativity. The resulting work disrupted the traditional landscape, using technology to reach and engage an audience unable to leave home.

Aiming to build a similar cult following of the hero products in Dr Jart+’s ‘Cicapair’ range, the campaign subverted a stance common in skincare, where sensitive skin is portrayed as a ’skin problem v product solution”. The team asked consumers to rethink sensitivity, promising to soothe and restore the skin’s natural barrier to defend itself against environmental aggressors.

Cutting-edge digital artist Rek0de, who is known for blending physical and digital worlds, created a 360-degree film featuring possibly the least skin-friendly place in the UK, packed with blue light, stress and pollution: Piccadilly Circus.

Over 2,000 people entered the portal to the world of Cicapair within the first two days of launch, with more than 20,000 unique visits over a two-week period. This resulted in a truly digital-first beauty launch experience, which used AR to immerse consumers in the brand world from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

The film saw a view rate nine-times higher than Youtube’s beauty benchmark, with doubled engagement across all social channels and record engagement for the brand on Instagram. The business impact was even greater, with retail sales delivery more than twice the target.

You can see the full list of winners on the website, and the winning case studies on The Drum.

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